Two days before his self-imposed deadline, the Mayor of London announced on Monday that he would step back from taking over planning permission for the Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon application for Plough Lane and return it to Merton Council to decide the case itself.
Read Sadiq Khan’s full letter here.
His decision comes exactly as predicted by our London Assembly Member Leonie Cooper while the so-called consultation process was still ongoing, as well as by the Leader of Merton Councillor Stephen Alambritis. Which makes a cynic wonder whether the decision had been pre-determined all along.
Wilful spin by Merton Council
Meanwhile, we hear that Wandsworth Council is strongly considering an appeal to the Secretary of State over whether Merton Council should be allowed to make the final decision on an application which is right on the borough border and has so much potential impact on their borough.
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.
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?
Greyhound supremo Paschal Taggart seems to have taken heart from the Mayor of London’s decision to ‘call in’ AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes’ scheme to develop the Plough Lane stadium site – by putting together a new set of plans for the site himself.
The Wimbledon Guardian reports that Taggart is entering into talks with Merton Borough Council about a smaller scheme with a higher percentage of affordable housing than the paltry 9.6% offered by Galliard Homes against the council’s target of 40% affordable.
The new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was elected on a platform of affordable housing: he has said he wants developers to make 50% of new homes ‘affordable’. It remains to be seen how inclined he will be to approve the AFCW/Galliards plan with its mere nod towards housing that would be within the financial grasp of key workers such as the staff of nearby St George’s Hospital in his former Tooting constituency.
What is most mysterious about the whole Plough Lane development saga so far is that Merton’s Labour-ruled council appeared so eager to roll over and gratefully accept Galliards’ offer of less than a quarter of the amount of affordable housing clearly detailed in the council’s own policy.
By agreeing to fund AFC Wimbledon’s oversized (by its own account: since putting in its application for a 20,000-seat stadium, the club has already said it will initially build a facility with fewer than 10,000 seats) Plough Lane stadium ambitions to the tune of some £14million, one can only guess that the billionaire property company simply can’t pull back its profit margins any further to meet its borough obligations on affordable housing.
We’ve said it before, but will say it again: imagine if this planning application had been submitted by anyone other than AFCW. Would Merton Borough Council SERIOUSLY allow them to get away without meeting or least coming a lot closer to the affordable housing element that is their target?
Over to you, Mr Mayor.
Anyone wanting to put their views on the future of Plough Lane to Mayor Sadiq Khan before he makes a decision on the development can email him : Mayor@london.gov.uk
No real news here, folks! But in the interests of keeping residents informed about developments in the Plough Lane planning saga…
Asked by the Wimbledon Guardian about what decision they would make on AFC Wimbledon’s stalled Plough Lane plans, Sadiq Khan said:
“If I were Mayor I would have to be very careful not to open myself up to challenge by giving a view as a potential Mayor that would jeopardise me looking at the scheme as a whole. As Mayor I would look at the merits and make a decision based upon the advice from those in City Hall. The job of the Mayor is to represent all 32 boroughs and so what I shouldn’t do is prejudice that decision by giving a view as a potential Mayor.”
Zac Goldsmith said:
“I would have to go through details and look at points in a way that that, as a mayoral candidate, I haven’t. For these developments you need to have communities in agreement. I think he made the right decision to call it in, but I’m not going to go into details related to this plan.”
Meanwhile, AFC Wimbledon has called on football fans to
spam email both candidates urging them to support their Plough Lane plans. And Wimbledon Park councillors have suggested to residents: ‘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.’
The following communication has been issued by Merton Borough councillors for the Wimbledon Park ward:
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:
- 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;
- 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.
Councillor Oonagh Moulton Councillor Janice Howard Councillor Linda Taylor