COVID-19 - Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Given the importance of outdoor exercise, one of the very few reasons for which members of the public have been permitted to leave the safety of their homes, keeping Wimbledon and Putney Commons accessible to all is vital.  Not surprisingly, visitor numbers to this unique resource have been persistently high;  at times they have been twice the normal levels.

As the Government changes its guidance on accessing open spaces, we will amend our restrictions accordingly but taking into account the local situation, particularly in respect of the higher visitor numbers we are experiencing. We are taking every decision on the basis of supporting the national effort to stay alert and avoid a second spike of the virus. We fully appreciate the impact of these measures on the local community in particular.

Developing and implementing policy measures in compressed timescales and in a very dynamic environment has been challenging.  The approach that we have always taken to enforcement is one of education rather than imposition of harsh penalties.  We appreciate your patience and understanding with our staff as they act to the best of their abilities to support the national effort to limit the transmission of this dangerous pathogen.  

For the safety and well-being of others, please do not visit the Commons if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms of the virus (new dry cough and/or temperature).  Remember you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Please note that the toilet facilities are only open Friday to Sunday and you should factor that into your visit.

Social Distancing

Social distancing measures have been mandated by government to reduce social interaction between people in order to limit the transmission of coronavirus.

For your own safety and well-being, please follow government guidelines in respect of social distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6’ 6”) between you and non-household members; this includes both other visitors to the Commons as well as members of our staff.  This is particularly important if you are running or cycling.

We would remind you that cycling is only permitted on the designated shared use pedestrian and cycle tracks – if you are not sure where they are, there is a map available here.  The rule of thumb on the Commons is that if there isn’t a sign saying you can cycle, then you can’t.  We have also put new notices up in strategic places – please read them.

A joint message for runners and cyclists - you are exerting yourselves and, not to put too fine a point on it, sweating and breathing hard. It is vital that you of all our visitors ensure you keep the required 2 metres (6' 6") from others. If people are ahead of you and you cannot pass them and keep the required distance then please stop and let them know you are there so they can move aside.

Commons' Car Parks

The Telegraph Car Park on Putney Heath is now open with larger than normal parking bays have been marked out to enable you to adhere to social distancing guidelines and visitors are requested to park within these bays. Do check around you and allow others to move away from your vehicle before getting out.

The Windmill Car Park - is now open from 7.30am to 8.30pm.

Points to note:

Larger parking bays have been created to enable proper social distancing. Please park within these bays only.  Do check around you and allow others to move away from your vehicle before getting out.

Larger bays have reduced the car park’s capacity by half and we would encourage those who can walk to the Commons to continue to do so.

There is no additional parking outside the car park so please do not leave your vehicle on Windmill Road or any verge.  The white gate at the bottom of Windmill Road is also being closed at 8.30pm so please DO NOT leave your car outside the car park, you could still be locked in. 

When the car park has reached capacity staff will reinstate the barriers at the bottom of Windmill Road so please be aware of this when driving in.

The Toilets are now open 11am to 6pm on Fridays, and 10am to 6pm on weekends.  Social distancing restrictions are in place and you are kindly asked to observe these.  The toilets remain closed at other times.  This should be factored into your visit.

Springwell Car Park is now open

REMPF car park
 is now open between 8.30am and 4.30pm

Walking Dogs on the Commons

We strongly advise that dogs be on a lead between 9am and 7pm - As the Government’s guidance evolves from strict rules to principles, we are reflecting this approach in the restrictions on dog-walking on Wimbledon and Putney Commons.  From Thursday 28 May therefore we strongly advise that dogs be kept on leads between 9am and 7pm. Outside of these times, dogs may be off-lead with the exception of the seasonal restrictions requiring dogs to be kept out of ponds and also on leads around Queensmere and on The Plain - these restrictions remain in place for the sake of our wildfowl and we ask you to respect them.

What do we mean by “strongly advise”? This means that we ask you to take responsibility for ensuring that your dog remains under proper control at all times and that you are able to recall your dog if the situation demands it. If you cannot guarantee this, then please keep your dog on a lead. Given the significantly increased visitor numbers we are currently experiencing, this is particularly important if you are walking when or where it is busy. Please respect all our visitors - some people are frightened of dogs, may be vulnerable and at risk of being injured if knocked over, or simply don’t want their family picnic invaded. In accordance with our byelaws, our staff may ask you to put your dog on a lead to prevent your dog from causing a nuisance or in any way endangering other visitors.

Pick up after your dogs – There has been a significant increase in the amount of dog-waste being left on the Commons so could we please remind all dog-walkers to pick up your dogs’ waste whilst walking anywhere on the Commons.

The ‘Dogs on Lead’ area and the ‘Skylark Zone’ restrictions on The Plain have been in place since 1 March 2020 to encourage and protect our ground-nesting birds, such as Skylarks and Meadow Pipits.  Please look out for the notices, keep your dogs on lead in this area and keep to the grass pathways.  Many birds also nest in areas of bramble and gorse so do be careful in these areas too.

The ‘Dogs out of Ponds’ restriction came into place on 1 April 2020 and most of our ponds will be dog-free zones in order to protect our wildfowl as we approach breeding season.  Around Queensmere, you will also need to keep your dog on a lead.  This is as much for their protection as it is to protect our resident swans – during breeding/nesting season they will attack a dog without a second thought.

No more than four dogs are permitted in any one group.

Don't let your dog disturb other visitors or wildlife.

Please remember that some people are scared of dogs, perhaps more so at this time.

Horses

The Commons are now being utilised for horse-riding.  Wimbledon Village Stables are starting to bring back their horses from grass and will be once again out on the Commons using the horse rides. They are of course aware of how busy the Commons are at the moment but you should take care if walking near the horse rides and to be aware that you might come across horses, particularly if you have dogs and/or young children with you. 

Riders must only be in groups of two unless members of the same household are riding together.

Bins

The most pressing issue for our staff is the emptying of litter and dog-waste bins.  With the significant increase in visitors our staff are now having to empty bins at least once if not twice a day, compared to twice a week prior to the pandemic. 

To help us deal with the current situation and in the interest of keeping the Commons clean and tidy at all times, we would ask you to please take your litter and any dog-waste home with you for disposal if at all possible allowing the bins to be left available for emergency situations. If bins are full, please do not leave your litter at the side of the bins;  it not only presents a risk to wildlife that lives on the Common, but also presents a health risk.  It also doubles the amount of clearing-up our staff have to do when it has been attacked by crows and foxes. 

Benches

Please be aware that the benches are not sanitised and, in order to maintain social distancing of 2 metres (6’6”), you should only use a bench with other members of your household.

Golf 

Following the phased reintroduction of golf to the Commons, normal play with up to four golfers playing together resumed on Sunday 7 June

Byelaws

Despite the alien environment in which we find ourselves, our byelaws are still very much in effect and are enforced by our Keepers.  The byelaws protect the Commons, our flora and fauna, as well as the safety of our visitors and set out exactly what is and isn’t permitted.  Upholding law and order during these difficult times is of paramount importance and is a responsibility that our staff take seriously.

In addition to what has already been mentioned, we would also draw your attention to the following: 

  • Do not light barbeques or any form of fire. The ground may be wet but, in some areas, it is drying out quickly and we have already we have already had a number of fires over the past month.
  • Do not fly any drones or model aircraft.

The approach that all our staff are taking to enforcing the new restrictions as well as the byelaws is one of education; we believe that now is not the time to impose penalties but if that becomes necessary then that course of action will be pursued.

The environment in which we are currently operating is constantly shifting and as we all adjust to the new world order, we will continue to review our policies to ensure that they are absolutely appropriate for our local circumstances.  We will ensure that any changes are communicated clearly and provide justification for the decisions taken.

Although some or all of the restrictions that we have implemented may appear drastic, the severity pales in comparison to the evolving global human and economic catastrophe.  A shared sense of responsibility for compliance is therefore critical as failure to do so by even a small minority will erode the collective capability to limit the transmission of the virus.  We therefore ask for your understanding and support of the policy measures that we have implemented.

In continuing to provide the essential service of protecting and preserving this unique open space, our staff continue to put the interests of others ahead of their own and the Conservators are sincerely grateful for all that they do. 

Thank you.

28 April 2020
Updated 12 May 2020
Updated 20 May 2020
Updated 28 May 2020
Updated 1 June 2020
Updated 8 June 2020