AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes have finally managed to get enough information together to re-submit their plans for Plough Lane, almost nine months after their initial scheme was made public.
You can browse all 39 new documents here, with the public consultation period ending on October 8, 2015. Comments on the scheme are being accepted by Merton Borough Council until that date, with residents only encouraged to submit their views.
Meanwhile, we are hearing a growing rumble of dissent in the area, as residents wonder why decisions about the Plough Lane site appear to being made behind closed doors, by the borough’s majority Labour councillors as if Merton were their private fiefdom.
Yes, they are the majority party in the borough, but that doesn’t make it right for them to pursue their own agenda simply because they’ve made some kind of promise to AFC Wimbledon that the Plough Lane site is rightfully theirs.
So why the rumbles of dissent?
Well, putting aside the stadium/housing issue for a moment, it does seem odd that proposals for a new secondary school site in the borough are the subject of cloak-and-dagger secrecy. The only people who seem to know which sites are in the running are members of the local Labour Party. Odd indeed.
It does also seem odd that the reasons given for Plough Lane being an apparently inappropriate site for a school include, it “would stop AFC Wimbledon returning to the borough” as declared by Cllr Martin Whelton at a full council meeting last week. Can’t they see that this is starting to reek of ‘fait accompli’? Pre-determination of a planning application before it has even been finalised?
Odd too is the fact that, when submitting a list of possible sites for schools in the borough to central government, Merton Borough Council failed to even mention Plough Lane as a possibility, despite its perceived limitations.
Another oddity is the fact that the council (or at least Merton Labour councillors) seem to think that Plough Lane would be an inappropriate location for a school due to flood risk and proximity to an electricity sub-station. Yet they seem to support the building of 602 homes on exactly the same site. If these problems can be overcome for residents, they can surely be equally well overcome for a school. Merton Council hypocrisy
Another oddity is the belief that building a football stadium constitutes “sporting intensity” when it will be used (according to AFCW) 30 times a year by the team for games, with training, ladies, girls and youth teams training and playing elsewhere.
We could continue, but were we in the shoes of cllrs Whelton, Judge, Alambritis et al right now, we would be starting to feel a little uneasy about how our approach to ‘the AFC Wimbledon problem’ was starting to look in the eyes of voters.