So we’ve read many more than a thousand pages of documents relating to the Plough Lane development submitted to Merton by AFC Wimbledon, but nowhere can we find any reference to use of the stadium for kids’ football training.
We thought one of the main tenets of the application was ‘community’. Yet it looks as though the club’s much vaunted children’s training sessions will continue to be held off-site. Anyone got any better info on whether this is true and if so, why?
We would love to be wrong on this one, but it looks as though being based in Plough Lane will make no difference to the training sessions carried out by AFC Wimbledon, which already runs them in various locations in the borough (eg £6 for an hour of Saturday morning training at Wimbledon Park. Not cheap.). So how will being based in Merton rather than just a mile or so over the border make any difference to the club’s community efforts?
And so as far as ‘sporting intensification’ of the site is concerned (Merton Borough Council has ruled that this must be the main force for development rather than simply putting housing or retail units there), how will it increase with the construction of a football stadium on the site of the current greyhound stadium?
Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium holds two meetings a week throughout the year, with banger racing as well. Meanwhile, in support of their bid, football fans claim the stadium will only be used 30 times a year. Which doesn’t sound very intensive (or revenue-generating, to be honest, unless there’s some sort of groundshare going on), yet it won’t host public training sessions on the site either.
So we will end up with a large housing development and a supermarket next to a stadium that stands largely unused – except on match days when up to 20,000 supporters will flood into the area, with the associated effects on traffic, transport and parking.
The current fitness and squash club will remain on site, of course, but with a mere two parking spaces for users (which they must share with visitors to the new supermarket which AFC Wimbledon wants to build to help fund their stadium project), making it a less attractive destination.
The squash club also currently hosts the highly popular Dancebites school, which provides dance classes (ballet, tap, streetdance etc) for guests including children. And what do parents need when accompanying kids to their dance sessions? Parking. Losing parking spaces will effectively mean a reduction in community use of this facility.
Not exactly ‘sporting intensification’ is it?