So where are visitors to AFC Wimbledon’s proposed new stadium in Plough Lane going to park if they don’t use public transport?
The club makes it clear in its planning application that neighbouring streets across a wide area will have to take the strain. It has even gone to the trouble of sending out a team of researchers to physically count how many on-street parking spaces are available for use by supporters on matchdays.
They found 5,544 spaces; we applaud their precision.
That is apparently how many available bays exist within a two-mile radius of the greyhound stadium site, and developers say it justifies their decision to cram as many homes onto the site as possible (property = £££ for Galliard Homes, of course) rather than reduce the concentration in favour of a more floodplain-friendly development. Which would perhaps enable more green space on the site, or parking spaces that could be used by supporters or, on non-matchdays (one might assume) employees of nearby St George’s Hospital. Hundreds of hospital staff currently park at the greyhound stadium on weekdays under current arrangements.
There is a questionmark over where these health service staff will park in future. Meanwhile, residents shouldn’t worry – because the council will simply extend controlled parking zones, AFCW cheerleaders insist. Well, hurrah! Although, actually, there is no indication of this in the planning application. Nope, none at all. Another assumption that residents are supposed to take on trust? (In addition to ‘oh the application is for a 20,000-seat stadium, but no, really, we only want 11,000. Honest.’)
And even if the council (councils, to be accurate, because Wandsworth residents will be equally affected given that Plough Lane sits right on the border of the borough) should extend resident parking zones, this would not come at zero cost. Visitor parking permits cost £2.50 a day (£1.50 for a half day), while resident permits cost £65 a year.
These are fees that we would have to pay on an ongoing basis, not just on days when AFC Wimbledon are playing at home. Matchdays, incidentally, will be days when it will be nigh-on impossible to find a local parking space if you’re shopping, delivering a child to a party, attending an event at a church hall or enjoying a gym session – because those spaces will most likely be taken by visitors to the stadium. An AFCW assumption – not ours, remember.
Find it hard to believe that AFC Wimbledon expects supporters to park on-street rather than use public transport? Well they do. Their own figures calculate that around a quarter of all visitors on matchdays will arrive by car. Which, at a 20,000-seat (or even an 11,000-seat) stadium, is a lot of on-street parking spaces.