The 300 artists/small businesses who work from the Wimbledon Art Studios complex beside the Plough Lane stadium have written to Merton planners protesting that development plans as they stand would ruin them commercially.
They object to the AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes scheme on the basis of its inadequate transport and parking plans. Their neighbours at Garrett Business Park make the same argument, as does on-site Christophers Squash and Fitness Club.
Wimbledon Art Studios is one of the largest creative art complexes in the country: a warren of studios occupied by artists and small creative businesses which hosts an annual series of highly popular and commercially vital open studio sessions that attract some 10,000 customers and generate hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of sales.
The artists say in their submission to Merton Borough Council: “The proposed development promises to swamp the local road system causing serious congestion, particularly Summerstown and Riverside Road, both of which are very narrow and already struggle to cope with current traffic levels.
“We know, if the development gets a planning consent without a serious re-think of the traffic implication, buyers will simply refuse to visit our studios and a major asset to the local and broader community will die.”
[Take note, AFCW CEO Erik Samuelson: “a serious re-think” ; that is more than the minor changes that you have promised.]
As well as traffic, parking is another major issue for the art studios. They highlight an unrealistic level of on-site parking provided for residents of the proposed 602 homes, chaos that would result from people parking on street, and the fact that local public transport is poor; “mayhem is the only possible result”, they say.
The Mayor of London’s office is already looking at the shortage of affordable studio space for artists in the capital as a critical issue, with concerns that creative industry is being increasingly squeezed by development.
It is shameful that in its desperation to guarantee a home in Plough Lane, AFC Wimbledon is showing zero consideration for others who count this site as their home. And we find it incredible that the club could submit plans of this size without seeking the views of local businesses on the site and on its borders.