Tag Archives: council

Merton gets go-ahead on AFCW stadium plans

Development plans for Wimbledon Stadium will NOT be called in by the Secretary of State, Merton Council was informed today.

That means building work can begin on the 10k-seat football stadium, 600+ home enabling development, new squash club and retail unit.

We wish AFC Wimbledon good luck with their project, and only hope that traffic, flooding and infrastructure matters are managed well enough to minimize problems and maximise benefits to the local area where, let’s face it, we already suffer enough with road congestion and air pollution.

One good thing that has come out of the planning process so far is that the football club does seem to have increased its involvement in the local community, with a more frequent presence at local charity events and providing training in schools.

It has also been an eye-opener as to how Merton Council does business, and we can only hope that our elected councillors and taxpayer-funded council officers draw some lessons from the benefits that could be gained from adopting a more transparent way of dealing with residents in future.

We reserve the right to continue keeping residents informed on progress at the Plough Lane site, as a new facility rises from the ashes of the historic Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. In the meantime, over and out!

Wandsworth submits Plough Lane appeal

Wandsworth Council has submitted an official application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Development to have the Plough Lane development called in, we hear. Their grounds for a call-in are that the development has a serious impact on their area not just Merton so they want an impartial and objective authority to determine the application.

Merton cannot be trusted on Plough Lane plans

If their request is accepted, it would mean the Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon planning application is the subject of a full inquiry by an independent planning inspector.

Any interested party can call for a planning application to be called in, resulting in a full investigation of all relevant documentation – not just the materials assembled by the planning officers for the local authority involved.

The mystery of how Merton does its business

So whatever your view on having a 20,000-seat football stadium and 600+ home development built in Plough Lane, if you’re not confident that Merton Council has considered it fully and objectively, it’s your chance to ensure areas including transport, traffic, health, education and flooding do get properly investigated.

If you also believe this application is too important to allow it to be decided by Merton Council alone, you need to write to The National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU), which is responsible for central Government planning casework. It is via the NPCU that you can request that the Secretary of State calls in a planning application. The contact details for the NPCU are:

Email: npcu@communities.gsi.gov.uk

NCPU, 5 St Philips Place, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2PW

Copy in your request to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid Email: sajid.javid.mp@parliament.uk

Wilful spin from our council of shame

No wonder AFC Wimbledon thinks planning permission for Plough Lane is a slam dunk, given the skewed propaganda disseminated by Merton Council. Our council is either getting it wrong by misrepresenting the position of the Mayor of London’s office, or it has been given the inside track on this issue, ‘knowing’ that whatever submissions are forthcoming during the two-week consultation period (which ended on August 10), the AFC Wimbledon/Galliard application will be heading back its way one day very soon.

Merton says on its website: “In a report published today, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has indicated his preference to hand the decision back to the council.

“The Mayor announced today a Greater London Authority (GLA) public consultation into how best to progress AFC Wimbledon’s planning application to build a football stadium and flats in Plough Lane, Merton, prior to making a final decision.

“The report makes clear that the Mayor is minded to return the authority to make the decision to Merton Council, where the cross party planning committee agreed in December 2015 to grant permission.”

What the GLA report actually says is: “It is recommended that the Mayor’s request to consider reversing the previous Mayor’s decision to act as planning authority is consulted on for 14 days, after which the Mayor will be able to consider the option of returning the application to Merton Council to determine.”

Wilful spin is not what you expect from your local council. Wilful spin and misrepresentation of the facts is what we are getting. Shame on you, Merton Council.




Merton cannot be trusted on 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?
1 Their consultation process on the original application was a joke.
2 They had clearly pre-determined the application before it even went before the planning applications committee.
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.

Comments can be emailed to : planningadmin@london.gov.uk



‘News within a fortnight’ says Alambritis

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?



Wimbledon Park cllrs’ update on Plough Lane Stadium plans

The following communication has been issued by Merton Borough councillors for the Wimbledon Park ward:

Dear resident
Update re. the Wimbledon Stadium Application

As you may already be aware, the Mayor of London has decided to call in the Wimbledon Stadium application. The Mayor has been given strategic planning powers for London and the ability to call in and decide large-scale applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
The Mayor has set out his reasons for taking over this planning application as follows:

  1. a) The development would have a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan because the nature of the proposals raise important considerations as to the future of cultural and sporting venues in London, and involve proposals for a significant amount of housing, including affordable housing, and;
  1. b) There are sound planning reasons for my intervention, because of the scale and nature of public representations received, which raise valid strategic planning matters regarding transport, housing, sports and cultural provision, including significant issues of controversy that require full consideration in a public hearing. Whilst this development proposes more than 150 dwellings and policy test 7(1) (b) does not therefore apply, it also is noted that the application would have a significant effect on one or more borough and raises strategic matters relating to transport and impact on services.

At this stage we have not been given notice of timescales or the process of determination but given the number of planning applications already in the pipeline, notwithstanding the Mayoral elections we understand that this application is unlikely to be decided before June/July.

There will be further consultation prior to the Mayor determining the outcome of the application and we encourage you to make your views known to him.

Kind regards 

Councillor Oonagh Moulton        Councillor Janice Howard       Councillor Linda Taylor

Could Merton funds help pay for AFCW’s new stadium?

We hear whispers of disturbing developments in the saga of planning approval for AFC Wimbledon’s stadium in Plough Lane.

The application was granted initial approval by Merton planners back in early December, but there is still no sign of the documents having been passed on to the Mayor of London (Stage 2 referral). This would normally take place a matter of weeks after a borough planning hearing, we understand. The size and location of the Plough Lane site close to the Wandsworth border means that the mayor has the power to ratify – or reject – the scheme.

So why the delay? The bundle of documents submitted to the Mayor has to include information about the S106 agreements, which may be causing problems as Merton, Wandsworth and Galliard Homes wrangle over who pays – and gets – what. Merton has so far appeared eager to accept whatever meagre morsels Galliards and AFCW are prepared to toss their way (9.6% affordable housing, anyone? Against the borough target of 40%…), while Wandsworth seem more prepared to play hardball on behalf of their residents.

But most disturbing are whispers of an altogether more serious issue being fought out between the council and developers: who will foot the bill for building the foundations of AFC Wimbledon’s dream stadium?

The football club and Galliard Homes, you’d think. Afterall, they are the ones who came forward with this plan. But there’s a complication. Not only is the stadium being built to a vastly superior specification than is necessary for a football club the size of AFCW – with ambitions to expand the stadium from 11,000 seats initially up to whopping 20,000 – but it is also being built on a flood plain.

In order to win planning approval, the scheme has to not only not increase flooding risk on the site, but it has to actively reduce flooding risk. Not cheap, from a construction point of view, you would imagine.

Throw in the ‘generous’ offer of Galliard Homes to hand over the freehold of the stadium gratis to the London Borough of Merton once construction is complete, and you can see a perfect storm brewing…

  • Why would Galliard Homes pull out all the stops to build a top-spec facility that is then handed over for free?
  • Would it not be tempting to build to the lowest possible spec, cutting corners where possible?
  • Would it be so unlikely that the developers are asking Merton to contribute financially to the build? Given the cosy relationship between the council and developers, as per this brag from cllr Alambritis, we’d have to say no!

Whispers in the environs of Plough Lane, amount to the effect that approval for the project has stalled while AFC Wimbledon’s developer pal Galliard Homes tries to bulldoze Merton Borough Council – which is on the verge of  cutting £5m from essential social care services because of budgetary restraints – into contributing to the construction costs.

Imagine the local outrage should our cashstrapped council, that can apparently no longer afford to fund local adult education services, meals on wheels for the elderly and isolated, mental health support for the vulnerable, respite services for carers, social work etc etc, then miraculously deliver the big bucks required to dig a hole in the ground for the sake of a football club!

So are the rumours true? Who knows: our council is not renowned for its transparency. But in the meantime, AFC Wimbledon has introduced an element of realism to its stadium scheme, admitting it can’t actually afford to build the facility it would like.

Rather than kicking off with 11,000 seats, that scale is being reduced to less than 10,000 to save money. Given that the club’s average home match attendance this season sits at less than 3,850, a smaller stadium is probably much better suited to the needs of League 2 AFCW.

Of course at the same time a smaller stadium will inevitably generate less in the way of revenue including for stadium naming rights, sponsorship, ticket and catering sales. From the residents’ point of view, a smaller stadium also means less in the way of disruption on matchdays.

But if reducing the size leads to knock-on commercial effects, does there come a point when that planning approval becomes essentially meaningless because the business plan no longer stacks up?