Tag Archives: transport

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!

Sadiq Khan: sticking up for residents

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.

 

Crossrail 2 and Plough Lane

Weird how the potential chaos for Wimbledon of Crossrail 2 merited not even a mention when plans for Plough Lane were considered.

Residents have been vocal in their condemnation of proposals to effectively demolish much of Wimbledon town centre while a major Crossrail 2 hub is created. Angry voices have also complained that Merton Borough Council did little to alert residents to the plans, and took a very last minute approach to objecting to the scheme.

The council’s official submission was made public just one day before the deadline for comments, showing little leadership and consideration for the views of residents. There was not a single mention of the Crossrail 2 consultation (which ran from October 2015) in our esteemed council’s vanity publication My Merton for example (nor indeed, was progress on the major Plough Lane development deemed worthy of even a footnote), clearly demonstrating Merton’s slapdash approach to public consultation.

So how will Crossrail 2 affect the Plough Lane development?

  •  With a plant depot accessed via Gap Road, traffic in the Gap Road/Plough Lane/Durnsford Road/Haydons Road area will undoubtedly increase, with many heavy vehicles leading to worse air pollution in an already poor air quality zone.
  • The Weir Road industrial estate is earmarked for demolition because of Crossrail 2 needs. This may well also be where football supporter coaches had planned to park, although the AFC Wimbledon plans were so flaky there were actually no details of where coaches will go when the scheme was approved by planners.
  • Wimbledon Station may be effectively out of bounds given the amount of demolition planned, meaning supporters travelling to Plough Lane will be pushed onto other forms of transport.
  • Construction of a vast ventilation shaft for the Crossrail 2 tunnel will take place in Waterside Way opposite the stadium: a huge project in its own right, causing massive disruption and  major transport issues right on the doorstep of both AFCW and Galliards 602-home housing development.

Surely this major project warranted consideration when the Plough Lane development was waved through by FutureMerton and planning committee councillors, not a single one of whom even mentioned it when voting ‘yes’. Odd and – you might be justified in thinking – irresponsible.

 

 

Things we now know – and many we don’t

All 10 councillors on Merton’s planning committee voted last night in favour of development plans for AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes to build a stadium and high density housing development on the site of the current greyhound stadium.

It was a well-run meeting, with council members given the chance to ask questions on all aspects of the scheme. The only real hiccups were: a problem with the webcast which meant proceedings could be heard but not seen on the big screen set up as an overflow in the council’s lobby area; and an intermittent fault that meant the Chamber of Commerce chairman couldn’t be heard via his microphone, but as a bit-part player that was of little consequence.

AFC Wimbledon is undoubtedly already starting to further flesh out its detailed plans for the site, which will start off as an 11,000-seater stadium. Galliard Homes are probably already devising ways to market their 602-apartment development to customers in the Far East.

Meanwhile, we folks who live in the Plough Lane area are wondering :

  1. how our neighbourhood is going to cope with all the inevitable extra parking, road, rail and pavement traffic, and
  2. how Merton’s Labour Party members can live with themselves for conspiring to allow a billionaire property co to offer a paltry 9.6% in affordable housing, when the borough target is 40%.

Answers to both these questions were clearly lacking at last night’s planning meeting.

 

Wandsworth’s verdict on the ‘revised’ Plough Lane plans

Wandsworth Borough Council is showing a close interest in the AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes development because the site lies right on the border with Merton. What gets built there will have a major impact on Wandsworth residents.

So what does Wandsworth think about the revised set of plans, re-submitted after they were roundly criticised first time round?  To summarise, WBC appears distinctly unimpressed.

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

They rightly point out that concerns about traffic implications of such a large-scale development have not been addressed, predicting that “existing traffic conditions will endure and worsen”.

They also consider “undesirable” traffic arrangements for Summerstown, a narrow, congested road with micro-pavements where the applicants wish to put three car park access points AND coach access onto the site. (It is hard to imagine a less suitable road for increased traffic flow.)

Read the Wandsworth response to the amended plans in full 

Wandsworth is as sceptical as anyone who lives around here about TfL’s apparently relaxed views on plans to add a 602-home development and an 11,000/20,000-seat stadium to an already over-capacity rail system: “Many local people will be bemused by the apparent views of the rail industry and TfL, as these views do not represent the day-to-day experience of local people using local rail services.”

Leaving it until after planning approval has been given to talk about emergency access arrangements for the hospital is “undesirable” – also highlighted is the fact that “there appears to be no interest” about where hospital staff (who currently park on the stadium site) will put their cars henceforth. More evidence that this application – even in its revised form – is half-baked.

Work by the applicants on pedestrian flows from the development “is not altogether convincing”, and “concern remains as to the impact of the development on public transport”… “with additional traffic and delays expected in the area of the mini-roundabouts, Blackshaw Road and Summerstown”.

Damningly, Wandsworth adds: “The amendments to the application and more detailed work that the application has carried out, in terms of access arrangements in Summerstown and Riverside Road, if anything, add to officers’ concerns about traffic impacts.”

Wandsworth’s response continues: “concerns regarding protecting the adjacent industrial businesses in relation to the new residential units remain” and “existing GP practices are unable to accommodate the additional demand generated by the proposed development”.

There’s more, but we think you get the message. As we have said before: the amendments to this major development application are minimal, shoddy and insufficient.

Had it been submitted by any other organisation than AFC Wimbledon, it would be getting a clear and immediate thumbs down from all sides. Merton Borough Council’s historic guilt about the fate of Wimbledon FC is no reason to approve this development that is in its current state clearly not fit for purpose.

Plough Lane: a blatant case of predetermination?

 

The two critical issues for Plough Lane application….

Speaking at a residents’ meeting last night, Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond said that he thought there were two major issues on which the Plough Lane development plans could founder:

  1. The flood plain issue: AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes have based their plans on the premise that the Environment Agency will re-categorise the site down from a 3b highest risk category flood plain to a slightly less risky 3a category location. A decision to do this has not (yet?) been made public. Were the risk level to be reduced, it would certainly be good news for the developers – and for residents in the area too: no one wants to live in high-risk area. Reducing the flood risk would of course also make the site more attractive for other development projects.  Like a school?
  2. The scale of the development: the MP pointed out that the Durnsford Road/Gap Road junction is “one of the busiest, if not THE busiest junctions in the borough”. He also said that – leaving aside the stadium issue –  he didn’t think the increased day to day pressures a 602-home development would bring had yet been overcome. (If you live in the near vicinity, whatever your sporting allegiances, you must surely agree.)

 

Wandsworth identifies a whole list of flaws in the Plough Lane application

However supportive you are of AFC Wimbledon’s wish to set up home in the borough, you can’t fail to recognise that the club’s planning application for Plough Lane is seriously flawed.

And that’s what Wandsworth Borough Council’s formal objection to the scheme, now lodged with Merton, represents. In registering its objection to the development plans as they stand, Wandsworth Borough Council rightly identifies that AFCW and Galliard Homes have submitted a substandard proposal.

Wandsworth not impressed with Plough Lane traffic planning

The application fails on so many grounds that it would be irresponsible to approve it in its current form.

The football club has pledged to make “minor changes” to the application, but whether these will be sufficient to pass the project on planning grounds remains to be seen.

Wandsworth’s submission covers most of the areas that we and others have identified as problematic, specifically:

  • “deep concern as to the impact of the development on the local highway and transport system
  • lack of information on issues including the impact of the plans on rail services, on Riverside Road (which the club wishes to use as an access road to the stadium), on St George’s Hospital emergency services, on parking locally, on pedestrian flows around the site etc etc. The list of gaps in information provided by the applicants goes on and on…
  • how the plans will affect traffic in the area
  • given its proximity, Wandsworth wishes to be involved in developing the Stadium Management Plan
  • flood risk issues raised by the Environment Agency need to be resolved
  • issues raised by NHS England regarding provision of healthcare services for the vast new housing development need to be resolved
  • and so on….

This list of problems does not, however, mean that the site should not be regenerated. On the contrary, as Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Tooting Dan Watkins points out in his own submission to Merton planners, residents welcome the transformation of the current run-down stadium area.

But, as he writes: “there are strong concerns that the current proposals from Galliard Homes don’t go nearly far enough to provide the infrastructure and facilities needed to effectively accommodate a development of this size and nature.”

In other words, Galliard Homes are trying to push through a far-too-large development on the back of the sympathies of Merton Borough Council towards allowing AFC Wimbledon to establish a base in SW19. 

Think about it like this: if the application was from any organisation other than AFC Wimbledon, would it pass the planning test?