Time to say no – again – to this shoddy, shabby application

Just a couple of days until the deadline for submissions (October 8, 2015) about the AFC Wimbledon /Galliard Homes revised planning application for Plough Lane. It’s been a relatively short period of time to read through the myriad re-worked documents, and it is unclear whether having previously objected, a subsequent fresh objection needs to be made against the new plans.

The council has been pretty un-helpful on this front, while local councillors and our MP have boasted that they’ve managed to have the submissions deadline extended by two days beyond the statutory minimum. Hmm. Throw in another personal submission just in case, is the best advice we’ve received.

Anyway, we’ve trawled through the documentation and it appears that little has changed since the original scheme was made public. In brief:

  • It seems to be widely acknowleged by traffic authorities that building a football stadium and 600+ homes will make the traffic and transport situation worse in what is already a traffic blackspot. The main response to this is to plan a new pelican crossing for Plough Lane and accept that roads will need to be closed while pedestrians disperse after matches. Not great for local businesses, let alone general traffic flow.
  • Train travel figures are still vague, and agreed to be pretty much unrealistic, especially on the Wimbledon-Earlsfield-Waterloo line, but no one seems to have much of an answer to how everyday travel will be affected, especially when mid-week evening matches take place. Anyone who regularly travels on this line 5pm-8pm will know there is already severe overcrowding.
  • There is no mention at all of how little Haydons Road station will cope with increased numbers of travellers. Trains are short, access to/from the northbound platform is via a steep, narrow stairway, the pavement onto busy Haydons Road is narrow. Overcrowding at this pinch-point will inevitably lead to problems at both platform and road level. No solution is offered as part of this application.
  • It is suggested that taxis should drop off passengers at (unspecified) locations in the vicinity rather than proceeding all the way to Plough Lane (where traffic – road and pedestrian will be dense), meaning that surrounding roads will become rat runs and air pollution will worsen.
  • Billionaire property developer Galliards has shown no sign of cutting into its profit margin by reducing the number of poky homes it plans to cram onto the site, despite the intensity exceeding GLA recommendations. Rooms and storage space in many units do not meet minimum GLA requirements.
  • Green areas within the housing development will not be open to the public (as was previously suggested, albeit bizarrely), will be limited in size and surrounded by 10-storey tower blocks, meaning little natural light is likely.
  • There are no public play spaces for children at the development, despite complaints from Sport England on this subject.
  • The site remains a highest-risk floodplain, but developers are conveniently ignoring this fact to push ahead with their plans because they appear unwilling to believe the official designation. It seems very odd to put in an application on this basis.
  • The applicants claim there is a bona fide need for a sizeable retail unit on the site, despite the plethora of local shopping opportunities in all directions.
  • The application boasts that the development plans are supported by the Greyhound Racing Association, but fails to mention that the GRA is now in fact part of the same group as Galliard Homes, focusing on buying up greyhound stadia, running them into the ground and then redeveloping the land at considerable profit. To claim this support is disingenuous if not downright misleading.

There is some good news though, for Christopher’s Gym, which now has use of a decent number of on-site parking spaces which, presumably, enable it to stay in business. Hurrah: the one section of the site which does actually support “sporting intensification” will remain, although it’s more “sporting continuation” given that the club already operates from there.

Development plans actually REDUCE sports use in Plough Lane

Oh, and plans for a “creche” have been included. But rather than taking some of the vast development to create a community asset, said creche will be slapped onto the side of the stadium building, its reception area at ground floor sticking out into the public cross-site north-south road, with the main creche facility at first floor level. So no outdoor play space, but with a suggestion that the childcare operator might use the ground floor level as play space on non-matchdays. Not sounding very well thought-through and child-friendly, is it? More like a box-ticking exercise. No one associated with the development has been boasting about the incorporation of creche faciities, leading us to think they are as embarrassed by its cursory nature as we are unimpressed.

To sum up, the amendments are minimal, shoddy and insufficient. If this application had been submitted by any other organisation than AFC Wimbledon, it would be getting a clear and immediate thumbs down from all sides.

The closing date for objections to the revised planning application for Plough Lane is October 8, 2015.  Email your views to: planning.representations@merton.gov.uk

Include your name, address, the planning reference number 14/P4361 and clearly state your objections on planning grounds (traffic, transportation, flood risk, parking etc).