Kingston Council (RBK) officially rejected a planning application at the Seething Wells filter beds site in Surbiton today (June 19), delighting campaigners in the area.

A petition against the proposed permission for "storage" on the 19th century has attracted well over 3,000 signatures from residents and supporters who want to see the site preserved for its historical significance and protected for existing flora and fauna in the area.

Campaigners, who have come together under the title Seething Wells Action Group or SWAG, say that the planning application for "storage/distribution" on the site would open up the possibility for further development there.

On Friday, RBK announced its decision to formally refuse the proposal "for retention of existing Use (Class B8) for storage/distribution" at the site.

In a document uploaded by RBK informing about the details of the decision, the "Reason/s" for the rejection stated:

"The applicant has not demonstrated, on the balance of probabilities, that the site, Seething Wells Filter Beds, is or indeed has been used for storage as per Class B8 of the Town and Country Planning (use Classes) Order 1987 for the required period of time, as such, the use of the site for storage (Use CLass B8) is not lawful."

The Seething Wells Filter Beds are the site of a 19th century waterworks that helped provide clean water to London during a deadly cholera epidemic spread by dirty water.

The application for "storage there" was submitted by the owners of the site through the Icon Planning and Environmental company.

In a statement sent to the Comet, the SWAG campaign described their satisfaction with the council's decision.

"The SWAG is delighted that Kingston Council has rejected the application by the owners of the filter beds for a certificate of lawful development," a spokesperson said.

"The application was to retrospectively designate the site as industrial water storage.

"SWAG’s campaign has seen more than 3,600 local people back the petition to save the site as well as dozens of letters of objection sent to the council.

"But the battle is far from over. The council’s refusal does not back SWAG’s view that the site is abandoned and therefore without planning designation.

"This means the owners – Isle of Man registered Cascina Ltd – can continue to look at other planning routes – included permitted development rights – to chip away at the site’s protections," they added.

Green Party Councillor Sharron Sumner, who launched the petition, added her thoughts following the decision:

"Firstly I’d like to say a massive thank you to the thousands of local people who have backed our campaign.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and the number of people who really value Seething Wells’ heritage and biodiversity.

"The council would not have rejected this application without your actions. But now we need the council to go further," she said.

Kingston Labour, Kingston and Surbiton Greens and Kingston Liberal Democrats, who hold a majority on RBK, have also campaigned against any future development on the site.

The Liberal Democrats though have argued that the petition "did not call for the right actions to actually" protect the site long term.

They instead want to see an invocation of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which could allow for local authorities to come to an agreement with the private landowners.