Mayor Khan says he will spend a fortnight deciding whether to hand the Plough Lane development plans back to Merton Council following the current AUGUST 10 deadline for comments on material changes in circumstance since the scheme was approved back in December.
Meanwhile, Wandsworth and Merton GLA representative Leonie Cooper clearly states (in an email to a local resident which is currently doing the rounds) that the Mayor has already decided to hand back the plans to Merton Council for final approval, thus making a mockery of the current consultation period.
She also peddles the untruth that the previous Mayor Boris Johnson “did himself also say that he was wrong to call the decision in”. The fact is, he actually said that he “may have made a mistake”; quite different.
Merton’s leader Cllr Alambritis also repeatedly boasts that the Mayor is going to hand back the plans, with approval guaranteed later this month.
AFC Wimbledon supporters, whose Chief Exec Erik Samuelson has apparently met with Mayor Khan, are confident of a thumbs up for their stadium plans, calling it a ‘slam dunk’ situation.
Yet the Mayor of London’s office insists that Sadiq Khan has not yet made a decision.
So what is the truth? Is this consultation period for real, or has the fate of Wimbledon Stadium been pre-determined in an utterly undemocratic way? Are our local representatives pulling the wool over our eyes, or is this process as truly transparent as we should expect?
AFCW is calling on football fans of any allegiance to bombard the Mayor with pleas to let Merton give their stadium plans the go ahead, despite the fact that his office has clearly indicated it only wants to hear about “material changes” that could affect his decision. One can only assume they will be disregarded.
However, changed circumstances such as the announcement of Crossrail 2, new supermarkets in the area, lack of consideration for traffic and transport issues are all bona fide reasons to post an email comment to the Mayor’s office to ensure these variables are properly considered before the plans are approved. Send your email (deadline AUGUST 10) to email@example.com
A little reminder that as MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan was happy to stand up for residents over worries about the implications of a large-scale housing development and football stadium on the borders of his Tooting ward.
The letter he submitted to Merton about the AFCW/Galliards application can be read here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/have_your_say_on_the_future_of_plough_lane_sw19
It would be interesting to know the views of his successor as MP for Tooting, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan. From posts on her website and Twitter feed, affordable housing, local transport issues including train capacity and Crossrail 2, and air quality feature among her interests: all relevant to the Plough Lane application.
The Mayor of London has announced a short, 14-day consultation period
during which representations can be made on whether he should overturn Boris Johnson’s decision to take over responsibility for the Plough Lane planning application.
Comments must be submitted by August 10, 2016.
So why can’t Merton Borough Council be trusted with the decision?
3 No one on the planning committee declared an interest in the application from AFCW despite their clear bias in favour of the applicants.
4 Officers presenting the scheme at the planning committee effectively acted as advocates
for the applicant.
5 Traffic, infrastructure, flooding, air pollution: Merton has blatantly papered over any potential problems with the application in its opaque desire to bring a football stadium to Plough Lane whatever the cost.
6 It is allowing the developers to get away with offering a paltry 9.6% affordable housing against a borough target of 40%. The new Mayor of London was elected on a pledge of 50% affordable for new developments.
1. TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORT
Plough Lane is among the most congested, heavily air polluted spots in Merton. Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon plans for the stadium site do nothing to improve the situation, in fact they will make it worse. Why has this issue not been addressed? Why is Merton Council ignoring the issue rather than using redevelopment of the site to make things better for users and residents of the area?
Recent poor weather has highlighted the fact that Plough Lane floods: twice in a fortnight, with the second flood coming after a concerted effort by the council to clear drains. It’s a groundwater issue, and displacing underground water facilities with the proposed development will undoubtedly make things worse. The Environment Agency has (incredibly) downgraded the fluvial flood risk, but the responsibility for groundwater issues lies with the council. They have already made it absolutely clear that they will do pretty much anything to approve the Plough Lane plans as they stand, so can we trust them on this issue?
3. STADIUM SIZE
The planning application is for a 20,000-seat stadium, which many have pooh-poohed (and not just us), saying that the team will never actually need such a large facility with the infrastructure issues it would raise. Given the club’s recent promotion to League One (well done, lads!), is that really such a remote possibility any more? This application needs revisiting with a realistic eye and thoroughly examining before it is finally approved.
4. AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Merton’s target for a development of this size is 40% affordable housing. Galliard Homes originally offered zero, raising this to a measly 9.6% by the time their planning application reached committee stage. This is far below anything that the Mayor of London has previously said is acceptable, and is far, far below the level that any councillor should be prepared to agree to. It sets a terrible precedent and does nothing to help the housing situation in Merton.
Our message to Sadiq Khan: stick to your guns and force a review of this application which needs some serious amends to make it acceptable.
You’d think a ‘business-like’ council like Merton would make it a priority to consult local businesses when there are life-changing plans afoot, but no! As far as Plough Lane is concerned, they really don’t seem to give a hoot.
Firstly, they didn’t bother consulting the businesses based on the surrounding industrial estates. Thumbs down from local businesses
Secondly, they didn’t take the worries of the local artists studios into consideration. Art studios condemn Plough Lane proposals
Thirdly, they are allowing retail units to open all around the site (there’s a new Coop on Durnsford Road and a mini Sainsbury’s being built at the top of Haydons Road, plus a Lidl about to open opposite the stadium) – yet STILL approved AFCW plans to include another supermarket in their scheme. Were the businessmen who run existing local convenience stores consulted? No! Plough Lane store mysteries…
And fourthly, we wonder whether Lidl, whose new store in Plough Lane is scheduled to open in mid-August, realise that the council has approved plans for a stadium build on their doorstep that requires the closure of Plough Lane and Summerstown on match days to enable the dispersal of football crowds.
Afterall, it’s a key point that was buried in the planning application despite how critical the transport network in this area is to the free flow of both business and leisure traffic in the Wimbledon/Tooting/Earlsfield/Wandsworth area.
Unbelievable – but true.
Our dear leader Cllr Stephen Alambritis has dug out his AFCW supporters scarf again and promised there will be news on the football club’s plans for Plough Lane ‘within the next two weeks’. That was last week.
The Wimbledon Guardian also reports that the leader of Merton Council believes the stadium plans ‘may be finally approved by August’.
This is of course the same man who spent a day standing outside City Hall back in March, awaiting approval for the Plough Lane development from the then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and ready to wave his AFCW scarf in triumph. Except BoJo didn’t play ball. Whoops.
Now Alambritis is apparently confident that the new mayor Sadiq Khan will rubberstamp the scheme so that Merton planners can re-affirm their support for it next month, leaving the way open for Galliard Homes to build their 602-home housing development with less than 10% affordable provision while AFCW get their stadium.
We get the impression that Sadiq Khan is totally committed to his affordable housing commitments, so how he can possibly say yes to a scheme that falls well short of Merton’s 40% affordable target, one can only wonder.
Two floods in a fortnight: Merton Council in denial?
Torrential rain, the ground is sodden, so the Plough Lane area with its high watertable floods again causing traffic chaos from South Wimbledon to Wandsworth and beyond.
Late last year, the Environment Agency downgraded the site’s flood risk from tidal and fluvial (ie river) sources. But river flooding is not the major problem here: surface and groundwater are more of an issue. And guess whose job it is to lead on flooding of this kind? Merton Council.
Which might explain their lack of forensic examination on flooding issues when they blithely waved through the AFC Wimbledon/Galliards development plans for Plough Lane at a meeting in December. Bring the Dons home, whatever the cost, remember? They decide it’s OK so it is OK. Until it rains and rains and rains.
The nearby Wandle meadows floodplain is currently under a few feet of water: that’s what it’s there for. Good. Ditto the current Plough Lane stadium site: it’s a vast open expanse that can happily flood causing little impact other than to those who habitually park there.
Build over and under it, as Galliard Homes wants to – dense blocks of 602 apartments with little in the way of open space, plus underground car parks that push soak-away capacity into surrounding land – and you end up with fewer places for excess water to go.
Challenging times ahead therefore for local residents, who have experienced flood waters lapping at their steps over the past couple of weeks, and flooded basements (eg in Havelock Road. For non-locals, that’s just off Plough Lane).
Meanwhile, Merton Council issues a list of areas to avoid due to rain-induced flooding, and despite enormous traffic jams tailing back in every direction – Plough Lane doesn’t even get a mention. Scared to highlight the fact that the road is suffering flooding because that doesn’t fit ‘the story’, perhaps, and to hell with keeping road users (and residents) informed?