Planning committee chairman ‘should stand aside for AFCW application’

The chairman of Merton’s planning committee Cllr Linda Kirby should stand aside when AFC Wimbledon development proposals for Plough Lane are debated and voted upon, says Wimbledon Park Councillor Oonagh Moulton.

“Conversations at the breakfast table” between Cllr Kirby and her husband Cllr Andrew Judge, a staunch public supporter of the football club’s plans, mean “it would be a great mistake to allow Linda Kirby to chair the planning committee,” Cllr Moulton told a meeting of residents.

“I think it’s potentially challenge-able,” she said, on the grounds that Cllr Judge has publicly and openly taken a particular view that AFC Wimbledon should be given the go-ahead to build a 20,000-seat stadium on the site of the current greyhound stadium in Plough Lane. “It’s a grey area to say the least,” Cllr Moulton added.

Chairman of the Wimbledon Park Residents Association Iain Simpson told the gathering, at Kohat Road church, that he thought there was “clear evidence that the planning application has been pre-determined by Cllr Judge and Cllr Alambritis.”

Cllr Stephen Alambritis is the Labour leader of Merton Borough Council and another vocal supporter of AFC Wimbledon’s proposals. (Spot the councillor!)

Iain Simpson was adamant that what’s going on behind closed doors regarding the Plough Lane planning application is “a pretty blatant manoeuvre by Judge and Alambritis”, and he said that he would query the process in due course. He made one complaint earlier which was rejected by the council’s lawyers.

“It’s not being decided fairly, and that’s potentially illegal,” the WPRA chairman said.

Cllr Martin Whelton has already stated publicly that one reason why the Plough Lane site would not be even considered as the site for a school is that “it would prevent AFC Wimbledon from returning to the borough”, leading to suspicions of pre-determination.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting blog post about the planning process: Inside the planning committee: it’s not enough just to say it’s all fair and impartial. You have to show it is too.