Merton gets go-ahead on AFCW stadium plans

Development plans for Wimbledon Stadium will NOT be called in by the Secretary of State, Merton Council was informed today.

That means building work can begin on the 10k-seat football stadium, 600+ home enabling development, new squash club and retail unit.

We wish AFC Wimbledon good luck with their project, and only hope that traffic, flooding and infrastructure matters are managed well enough to minimize problems and maximise benefits to the local area where, let’s face it, we already suffer enough with road congestion and air pollution.

One good thing that has come out of the planning process so far is that the football club does seem to have increased its involvement in the local community, with a more frequent presence at local charity events and providing training in schools.

It has also been an eye-opener as to how Merton Council does business, and we can only hope that our elected councillors and taxpayer-funded council officers draw some lessons from the benefits that could be gained from adopting a more transparent way of dealing with residents in future.

We reserve the right to continue keeping residents informed on progress at the Plough Lane site, as a new facility rises from the ashes of the historic Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. In the meantime, over and out!

Call-in request update

As reported previously, Wandsworth Council has submitted a request to the Secretary of State to take over the Plough Lane planning application, expressing concerns that Merton has not taken an objective approach to approving the scheme.

There is an amendment to the email address to send in your request for a call-in of the application. In addition to npcu@communities.gsi.gov.uk it is as follows: “Please send your message through the online form http://forms.communities.gov.uk/  or call 030 3444 0000. “

Wandsworth submits Plough Lane appeal

Wandsworth Council has submitted an official application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Development to have the Plough Lane development called in, we hear. Their grounds for a call-in are that the development has a serious impact on their area not just Merton so they want an impartial and objective authority to determine the application.

Merton cannot be trusted on Plough Lane plans

If their request is accepted, it would mean the Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon planning application is the subject of a full inquiry by an independent planning inspector.

Any interested party can call for a planning application to be called in, resulting in a full investigation of all relevant documentation – not just the materials assembled by the planning officers for the local authority involved.

The mystery of how Merton does its business

So whatever your view on having a 20,000-seat football stadium and 600+ home development built in Plough Lane, if you’re not confident that Merton Council has considered it fully and objectively, it’s your chance to ensure areas including transport, traffic, health, education and flooding do get properly investigated.

If you also believe this application is too important to allow it to be decided by Merton Council alone, you need to write to The National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU), which is responsible for central Government planning casework. It is via the NPCU that you can request that the Secretary of State calls in a planning application. The contact details for the NPCU are:

Email: npcu@communities.gsi.gov.uk

NCPU, 5 St Philips Place, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2PW

Copy in your request to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid Email: sajid.javid.mp@parliament.uk

Mayor washes his hands of Plough Lane application

Two days before his self-imposed deadline, the Mayor of London announced on Monday that he would step back from taking over planning permission for the Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon application for Plough Lane and return it to Merton Council to decide the case itself.

Read Sadiq Khan’s full letter here.

His decision comes exactly as predicted by our London Assembly Member Leonie Cooper while the so-called consultation process was still ongoing, as well as by the Leader of Merton Councillor Stephen Alambritis. Which makes a cynic wonder whether the decision had been pre-determined all along.

Wilful spin by Merton Council

Meanwhile, we hear that Wandsworth Council is strongly considering an appeal to the Secretary of State over whether Merton Council should be allowed to make the final decision on an application which is right on the borough border and has so much potential impact on their borough.

 

 

 

Wilful spin from our council of shame

No wonder AFC Wimbledon thinks planning permission for Plough Lane is a slam dunk, given the skewed propaganda disseminated by Merton Council. Our council is either getting it wrong by misrepresenting the position of the Mayor of London’s office, or it has been given the inside track on this issue, ‘knowing’ that whatever submissions are forthcoming during the two-week consultation period (which ended on August 10), the AFC Wimbledon/Galliard application will be heading back its way one day very soon.

Merton says on its website: “In a report published today, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has indicated his preference to hand the decision back to the council.

“The Mayor announced today a Greater London Authority (GLA) public consultation into how best to progress AFC Wimbledon’s planning application to build a football stadium and flats in Plough Lane, Merton, prior to making a final decision.

“The report makes clear that the Mayor is minded to return the authority to make the decision to Merton Council, where the cross party planning committee agreed in December 2015 to grant permission.”

What the GLA report actually says is: “It is recommended that the Mayor’s request to consider reversing the previous Mayor’s decision to act as planning authority is consulted on for 14 days, after which the Mayor will be able to consider the option of returning the application to Merton Council to determine.”

Wilful spin is not what you expect from your local council. Wilful spin and misrepresentation of the facts is what we are getting. Shame on you, Merton Council.

 

 

 

This process stinks

Anyone got any confidence left that the planning process is anything like transparent for Plough Lane development plans?

AFC Wimbledon supporters are fed up that their stadium ambitions are being held up. Residents are fed up that the whole scheme stinks of predetermination. And it’s a stink that gets stronger by the day.

Why so?

Exhibit A: Cllr Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council, who happily declares after a private meeting with the Mayor of London: “I’m very confident that this decision will be handed back to the London Borough of Merton and we will affirm the decision we took on December 10 that the club can go ahead with building a new stadium on Plough Lane.”

That’s a mighty confident stance to take considering the Mayor of London said he would only make a decision following a two-week consultation and subsequent 14-day period during which submissions would be considered.

Exhibit B: Merton and Wandsworth GLA representative Leonie Cooper emails a constituent on August 4 (while the consultation was still open to submissions) to say that the Mayor had already sent the plans back to Merton for determination. Bear in mind that Ms Cooper is a close colleague of Sadiq Khan, so you might expect her to have the inside track on the issue. But knowing for sure that the plans were being sent back to Merton before the consultation had even ended? Fishy, indeed.

Exhibit C: Leonie Cooper (yes, her again) tweets at 0926am on August 18 from her account:

In reply to

what fix? Passed back to as no grounds to intervene (Boris call-in was spurious)

 

She is again claiming that the application has been passed back to Merton Council, despite the fact that this has not yet been made public, and we are still within the 14-day consideration period following the close of consultation on August 10.

Exhibit D: In an email to a constituent sent on the afternoon of that same day August 18, Ms Cooper states:  “the Mayor has not yet made a final determination, as he has not yet had the chance to look at the various submissions made during the consultation.” This statement contradicts both her tweet earlier that day, and her statement of August 4. Make your mind up, Leonie!

If the Mayor of London does hand this planning application straight back to Merton, the suspicion will always be there: was this most recent consultation a mere case of window dressing? It stinks.

Many thanks to all those who continue to contact us with background information and links that enable us to keep residents informed about the ongoing intricacies of this complicated issue. A direct message on twitter is the best way to stay in touch @SW19Stadium

 

Why the Mayor of London should determine Plough Lane plans

1 Pre determination
Merton Council had already ‘saved’ the stadium site for AFCW long before plans were even submitted. Cllr Andrew Judge stated publicly that a school couldn’t go there because it had been saved for AFCW; Future Merton was tasked with making sure barriers were cleared for the football club to take over the site. As a result of this, the council’s planning department has failed to take a neutral approach to the plans, effectively acting as an advocate for the developers rather than considering them objectively and comprehensively.

2 Transport
Merton Council is so biased towards the development plans that it has failed to properly consider its effects on the local road and public transport network. It has failed to mention that the Plough Lane area is among the most congested locations in the borough as reported by TfL. It has also totally neglected to consider the considerable disruption that will come with Crossrail 2 in relation to this large scale development.

3 Retail
Since the Plough Lane scheme, which includes a large retail unit, was approved in December, the shopping situation in the immediate vicinity is now quite different. Not only has a Coop store opened less than five minutes’ walk away in Durnsford Road, but a Lidl is about to open directly opposite the stadium, and a Sainsbury’s is currently being built at the top of Haydons Road. The retail assessment, which stated originally “there is a deficiency of convenience facilities within the vicinity of the application site” therefore clearly now needs to be re-considered.

4 Flood risk
Since the application was approved, Plough Lane itself has flooded repeatedly due to heavy rain, and after gutters were swept – a groundwater issue which Merton has obviously failed to take into consideration. Our local council appears to be in denial about flooding and subsequent transport problems in the Plough Lane area, having failed to put it on its list of black spots to avoid during flood incidents despite the road being impassable and with traffic queues backing up in all directions.

5 Pollution
The Plough Lane/Haydons Road area with its almost permanent traffic jams is among Merton’s most polluted, yet this fact has not even been considered by planners as far as the housing and stadium development is concerned. This cannot be right. Merton Borough’s approach here – as elsewhere – appears to be, build it and fix it later. This is inappropriate as well as reckless.

The deadline for comments on the Plough Lane development is AUGUST 10. Send your email to planningadmin@london.gov.uk to ensure loose ends are considered and properly dealt with before Merton lets Galliard Homes and AFC Wimbledon effectively do whatever they like with our neighbourhood.