Planners ‘concerned’ about Plough Lane proposals

Merton Borough Council has been bombarded with emails about the Plough Lane redevelopment; it’s good to know there is so much interest in the future of this critical site.

Many come from AFC Wimbledon fans, local to the area as well as from further afield. It is impressive indeed to see how much support the club boasts nationally and internationally. Last time we looked, emails had been submitted from as far away as Hawaii, Canada, California, Berlin and the Czech Republic, as well as from supporters who live in Sheffield, Doncaster, Bristol, Birmingham, Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Colchester, Brighton… the list goes on.

Well done, AFCW, for galvanising so many people to drop an email in support of their development plans. If the application were being decided by postal ballot, you would surely win.

But getting the go-ahead for a planning application is not the same thing as winning a popularity contest, and ensuring a development is both fit for purpose and appropriate for its site is critical.

That’s where professional planners come in, as well as local elected representatives who act as a voice for their constituents.

Concerns have been raised about the methods used by AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes to calculate the impact of their development plan for Plough Lane on flood risk and transport infrastructure. Wimbledon Park councillor Oonagh Moulton confirmed at a public meeting last week that both these elements were under close scrutiny by experts within Merton Borough Council’s planning department, and that they would be asking the applicants to revisit their calculations.

This is music to the ears of concerned residents who are unconvinced by AFC Wimbledon’s assurances that building a 20,000-seat stadium and 602 homes will have minimal effects on traffic in an already congested area. And that we shouldn’t pay attention to Environment Agency categorisation of the site as a highest-risk flood plain, effectively because it doesn’t fit in with their plans.

Meanwhile, we find out that local politicians in Earlsfield and Tooting have lodged serious concerns about the Plough Lane development on behalf of their constituents. More on that in a separate blog post coming soon.