1912: Wimbledon FC moves to a ground in Plough Lane from Wimbledon Common where they had played since forming in 1889.
1928: First greyhound races held at Wimbledon stadium in Plough Lane. The track became home turf to many of the country’s top trainers.
1962: First stock car meeting takes place at Wimbledon stadium.
1988: Wimbledon FC beats Liverpool to win the FA Cup final. Plans to build a new 20,000-seat stadium at the club’s Plough Lane site are approved by the council but the stadium is never built.
1990: Standing room at football stadia is banned following The Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster. The Board of Wimbledon FC claim their Plough Lane site is not large enough for their needs and instead agree a groundshare with Crystal Palace.
1991: Wimbledon FC plays its final first team match at Plough Lane.
1992: The Greyhound Racing Association offers to redevelop its Wimbledon Stadium into a 15,000-seater dog racing and football ground. Wimbledon FC turns down this offer as well as suggested options on a number of other local sites.
1994: Wimbledon FC sells its Plough Lane ground to businessman Sam Hammam for £3 million. Hammam’s company subsequently sells the ground to Safeway for an alleged £8.5 million for a proposed new supermarket.
1996: Study commissioned by Merton Council concludes that it is not feasible to site a 20,000-seat stadium on the Plough Lane greyhound stadium site due to transport constraints. Read the report here. A 10,000-seat stadium would however be possible, provided a dedicated tram line was extended to the site.
NOTE: traffic on local roads in this area has very substantially increased since 1996 when this study was carried out.
2002: Former Wimbledon FC stadium in Plough Lane is demolished, later to be replaced by a housing development of 570 flats (completed in 2008). This development includes no community facilities such as school or medical centre; existing local facilities take the strain.
MAY 2002: AFC Wimbledon ‘The Dons’ is formed by local supporters following relocation of Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes cutting all ties with SW19.
JUNE 2002: AFC Wimbledon agrees a deal to be based at Kingsmeadow Stadium in nearby Kingston-Upon-Thames.
2003: Wimbledon AFC purchases Kingsmeadow.
2005: The Greyhound Racing Association (GRA Ltd) is sold to venture capitalists Risk Capital Partners Ltd. It emerges that housing developers Galliard Homes have a financial interest in the group.
2008: The Unlimited Engine Capacity banger Racing World Championship moves from Wimbledon stadium to Ipswich due to the introduction of the London Low Emission Zone which made it too expensive for transporters to travel to the venue.
2009: The Portsmouth Stadium greyhound track is sold by Risk Capital, and closes the same year. (The GRA later also closes down the Oxford greyhound racing stadium in December 2012, putting in an application to redevelop the site for housing.)
AUGUST 2012: AFC Wimbledon announces its intention to return to Wimbledon. Proposals include building a stadium in Plough Lane with an initial capacity of 12,000 with potential expansion for up to 22,000.
The club’s Chief Executive Erik Samuelson says: ‘It’s not the only site in Wimbledon but it is our preferred site by some distance.’ Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, warns that although he supports the football club’s plans for Wimbledon Stadium they will face competition from other parties.
JAN 2013: Merton Council begins consultation on the pre-submission version of its ‘Sites and Policies’ Development Plan Document:
- Hume Consulting presents its plans to redevelop the existing greyhound stadium into an updated greyhound racing facility, with associated development.
- Wimbledon Park Residents Association objects to development on the Plough Lane site on the basis of flooding and transport issues. Read their submission here
- Regarding the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium site, the Mayor of London comments: ‘The suggested use of the site for substantial out of centre retail causes strategic policy concern and would not be in conformity with London Plan policy. The loss of the greyhound stadium use would also raise strategic policy concerns.’
- Rather than taking this comment from the Mayor of London on board, Merton instead states in its final document that the Plough Lane site is suitable for “intensification of sporting activity with supporting enabling development”.
- Deadline for submissions to this consultation process is Sept 13, 2013.
SEPT 2013: Speaking at a Merton Borough Council meeting, council leader Stephen Alambritis says: ‘Our job is to be even-handed. Yes, there is a desire to see football return to the borough, but that does not mean at the expense of greyhound racing, or on this particular site.’
SEPT 19, 2013: AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes submit their proposal to replace the greyhound stadium with a football stadium and associated development including 600 homes – missing the deadline set by Merton Borough Council almost nine months earlier. Read the report of their submission in The Wimbledon Guardian
JAN 2014: Planning inspector hears concerns about redevelopment of Greyhound Stadium, as part of hearing to ensure the council’s Local Development Plan is sound. Wimbledon Park Residents Association is represented at the hearings, to ensure that concerns of local people are heard.
JUNE 2014: The inspector’s final report is published. Read it in full here. With the support of Wimbledon Park Residents Association and Merton Council (but opposed by AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes), the Plough Lane stadium site is confirmed as being designated at highest risk of flooding category 3b.
JUNE 2014: Public exhibitions held on Plough Lane stadium site proposals from both Hume Consulting (greyhounds) and Galliard Homes/AFC Wimbledon (football).
JULY 2014: Merton councillor Andrew Judge lays his cards on the table: ‘I want to see Plough Lane redeveloped as a football stadium’
SEPT 2014: Report from planning consultancy RPS concludes that early proposals from AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes were inferior to Hume Consulting’s greyhound development plans on grounds of traffic, flood risk and infrastructure. Read the full report here.
OCT 2014: AFC Wimbledon chief executive Erik Samuelson says the club will lodge a planning application for the Plough Lane stadium ‘within the next few weeks’, with the aim of the development being complete by the start of the 2017-18 football season. ‘After historic defeat of MK Dons, AFC Wimbledon look to return home’
OCT 2014: Hume Consulting unveils amended plans for the stadium site that take into account development recommendations from RPS, reducing the size of the development to address flooding, transport, traffic and infrastructure concerns. As well as a revamped greyhound stadium and apartment blocks, the proposals include space for a doctor’s surgery and pre-school. Read details about the plans here
NOVEMBER 2014: An announcement from AFC Wimbledon confirms that the club has submitted its development plans for the Plough Lane Greyhound Stadium to Merton Borough Council. The planning application includes an 11,000-seater stadium increasing to 20,000 and residential development of 602 homes.
DECEMBER 2014: Merton Borough Council publishes full details of AFC Wimbledon/Galliard Homes planning application for the Plough Lane Greyhound Stadium site. Along with a football stadium and large-scale housing development, it also includes a supermarket and parking for 297 cars and 741 cycles. Deadline for submission of comments is set as January 19, 2015.
JANUARY 16, 2015: Deadline for submission of comments about the AFC Wimbledon planning application for Plough Lane is extended to February 2 thanks to the efforts of local councillors Oonagh Moulton and Linda Taylor. Worries had been expressed that registering such a major application shortly before Christmas limited the ability to analyse and comment on it effectively.
February 2, 2015: Extended deadline for submission of comments on the Plough Lane planning application. Official submissions from Transport for London, the Environment Agency, Sport England and the Greater London Authority all oppose the plans on grounds including flood risk, lack of community facilities and traffic issues.