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Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents' Association
Serving the community since 1928

Association News, October 2002

Former Wimbledon Football Club

Having given details last month of a planning application to re-develop the old Plough Lane football ground, I thought there would be no more to say about this for several months. However, within a month, another application has been submitted (02/P1509).

The basic format is similar - housing with a small business accommodation element - but the number of dwelling units, as they are called, and the car-parking provision have been greatly increased. The new plan would offer 95 one-bedroom, 170 two-bedroom and 9 three-bedroom flats along with 10 three-bedroom houses (total 284), and also 320 car-parking spaces, many of which would be underground. It does seem odd that within only a few weeks of putting in very detailed plans the same applicant submits another scheme which manages to increase the number of residential units by as much as 60%. From a quick look at the site plan and the elevation drawings, it looks as though this change has been made possible by increasing the density (some of the flats would be five-storey development), and by putting about two-thirds of the car-parking underground. There would be an "affordable" housing provision of 30%.

You may wonder why such a large proportion of the scheme would be one- and two-bed flats. The main explanation for this is that, apparently, somewhere between 60-70% of the demand for housing is reckoned to be small units like this. The other factor is that Merton has a housing target determined solely by the number of dwelling units - regardless of size - so lots of small units help to meet the target.

I confess to personal doubts about the wisdom of a housing policy which tends to encourage the market demand for small flats whilst the need is probably for a balance of flats and houses, with a good share of three- and four-bed houses included, preferably at affordable prices. This is not intended as a criticism of Merton Council policy. The Mayor's office, the GLA, now sets the housing targets for London boroughs, and the developers will inevitably respond to the market demand which is influenced so much these days by what I call changing life patterns. You can decipher that for yourselves. The whole subject of housing provision, not just locally but nationally, needs a complete re-think.

Garth Road Housing

Part of the Civic Amenity site, as it is rather grandly called, was closed off some time ago, and about two acres of the land were earmarked for a potential housing development. The area is located behind the previous vehicular entrance.

Fairview New Homes Ltd have now submitted an application for the site, with what looks like - see comments above - a reasonable balance between the types of accommodation proposed. The scheme, if granted permission, would provide 39 flats, mostly two-bedroom type, and 14 three-bedroom houses. I believe the local Residents' Association is broadly in favour of a residential development on the site (although it may not seem to be an ideal location), partly because housing would at least curtail the possibility of further commercial or industrial development in a part of Garth Road opposite existing residential development. I cannot resist drawing attention to the fact that both Plough Lane and Garth Road are on classic "brownfield" sites, unlike LESSA !

Prince George's Playing Field

The local newspapers of 5 and 6 September reported that Wimbledon Football Club (Milton Keynes version) has decided to give up Prince George's, and that the Lawn Tennis Association is quoted as "a possible buyer of the land". The LTA (please note this is not the All England Club) would, it seems, be interested in the site for a Tennis Academy. We will try to follow this story as it develops, but in the meantime I will just remind you that the whole site is on the London equivalent of the Green Belt. There are strict limitations on the types of buildings which can be permitted on such land. Whatever happens, we would hope that a significant part of the site could be retained for the amateur football player, and that public access could be largely retained.

David J. Freeman
Planning Officer, RP&WBRA