They are development partners for Plough Lane, but behind the scenes how well do the two major players actually get on?
AFC Wimbledon just wants to establish a permanent base on the road it considers its spiritual home (FC Wimbledon, the forerunner of AFCW, played for years on the corner of Plough Lane and Durnsford Road. That spot is now a housing development).
But to fund its ambitious plans it has had to get into bed with Galliard Homes, who want to maximise profits by cramming as many high-rise homes as possible onto as much of the site (a highest-risk-rated flood plain) as they can get away with.
And that is essentially why the plans have hit problems. The application has been rejected by the Greater London Authority because it constitutes over-development (in addition to a host of other issues), by the Environment Agency on flood-risk grounds, by NHS England and Wandsworth Council because of the strains it places on local infrastructure, and by Sport England because it fails to include enough space for residents to enjoy recreational pursuits.
Complaints along these lines would be minimised were Galliard Homes to drastically reduce the proportion of housing (it currently envisages 602 homes) planned for the site, where Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium currently stands.
Representatives from Galliards were noticeably absent from forums organised by Wandsworth and Merton councils earlier this year, when residents had the chance to hear more about the Plough Lane application from the development team.
Instead, it was left to AFCW’s CEO Erik Samuelson to defend the plans along with representatives from consulting firms who carried out flooding, traffic and transport assessments. (All of which, incidentally, are being revisited as a result of critical comments since the plans were submitted to Merton planners just before Christmas.)
So what is going on behind the scenes between AFCW and Galliard Homes?
Is the football club begging the housing behemoth (reportedly London’s second largest house-builder) to please, please, please reduce the size of the housing proportion of the development – ie make do with a smaller profit – if there’s to be any hope of getting that much-longed-for stadium?
Are they prepared to stick to their ‘community club’ credentials and stand up to the developer big boys? They’ve done it before when the FA decided setting up the club was “not in the wider interests of football”…
Or is AFC Wimbledon prepared to see its stadium hopes dashed because the ‘enabling development’ is simply too large, but the club’s house building partners refuse to compromise with a more appropriate=smaller=less profitable proposal?
We await developments with a great deal of interest.