As I put these notes together (mid-July), our understanding is that Merton's Planning Department hope to put the two planning applications on the agenda for the meeting on 25 July. However, it seems more likely to me that they will be considered in August or even later. In the meantime, we will continue to object to the entire proposal for the reasons set out in the June "Guide" and the May "News Update".
As these applications have been on the table in one form or another for eighteen months now, I should like to point out that this Association has been involved in an extensive exchange of correspondence with a number of bodies as well as the Planning Department at Merton ; for example, the Greater London Authority, the Government Office for London, Sport England, the Environment Agency, the C.P.R.E., Roger Casale M.P., and many others. Most of the people contacted have tried to be helpful. However, I have to tell you that despite a string of letters addresed to Merton's planners, only two of these letters have received a reply which could be described as constructive, and even those avoided answering many of the issues raised.
One can well understand Merton not having the time or resources to respond to questions about each and every application to build an extension to a private house, but we are dealing here with a very substantial proposal which, if approved, could impinge on the lives of hundreds if not thousands of residents living in the immediate area. I last wrote to the Case Officer in Merton, Mr. Duyile, on 30 May. He has confirmed that he received the letter, but has made no attempt to reply. I do not want to bore you with the details again, but in essence I was asking Council officials - assuming that they are minded to recommend approval of the application - how they can justify doing so in the knowledge that they are in serious conflict with their own Unitary Development Plan and with Government guidance. Given the scale of the proposed development and the numbers of people likely to be affected, the questions raised with Mr. Duyile deserve to be answered fully, and it borders on disgrace the way this Association has been treated.
Against a background of the lack of an adequate response from Merton's Planning Department, our hope is that the outcome of these applications will be decided elsewhere. The indicators so far have been that the G.L.A., the office of the Mayor, may view these applications with favour, but even so there would remain the possibility that the Secretary of State for Local Government and the Regions would "call in" the applications and hopefully decide in accordance with national policy rather than short-sighted local interests.
A Special General Meeting was held on 11 June to consider the draft Revised Constitution as set out in the June "Guide". I am pleased (and more than a little relieved) to tell you that, subject to a few amendments, the draft was approved, and the newly-adopted constitution appears in the centre pages of the August "Guide".
May I just remind you that the expectation is that there will be at elast four "open" meetings each year, which will be called General Meetings. These will be the A.G.M., which we are required to hold in March, as well as meetings in June, September and December. There may also be Special General Meetings called for some specific purpose. The front page of the "Guide" will indicate the date of these General Meetings. The Committee expects to meet during all the above months except August, when we normally take a break. May I take this opportunity to thank the other members of the Committee and those who attended the S.G.M. for listening patiently to me trying to explain this revised document ! If any flaws come to light, we can deal with them at the A.G.M. next year.David J. Freeman