We are now some four months into our new way of working, with a full complement of Officers, including a new Chairman, Editor and Advertising Manager, who have all taken to their rôles with aplomb! In that time, we have had two meetings for committee members only and one open meeting, and so far, we believe that things are working reasonably well.
However, we are concerned to ensure that members feel they can bring issues to our attention at all times, not only when they come along to a scheduled meeting. If you wish to discuss something with an officer of the Association or one of your Councillors, please do not hesitate to contact us by letter, telephone or e-mail as appropriate.
Once again, the problem of the Council allowing fishing in the lake on Cannon Hill Common has come to the fore. You may remember that some years ago, the Association and the Friends of Cannon Hill Common asked for a fishing ban to be implemented. However, the local authority eventually considered that, properly controlled and supervised by a warden, fishing should be allowed.
Since then, all the worst fears of local residents have been realised, and a petition is currently being circulated for presentation to the Council expressing these concerns. For those members who have not already had an opportunity to sign the petition, but sympathise with its aims, a coupon has been included in the November "Guide" for you to complete and send to us. We will then forward these to Merton Council in support of the campaign.Jill Truman
Following on from my report last month about the possibility of the Lawn Tennis Association taking over the lease on Prince George's from Wimbledon Football Club as a site for a tennis academy, the Wimbledon News reported on 4th October that the LTA has plans to develop a new National Tennis Centre on land at Bank Lane in Roehampton currently owned by the Bank of England. This is reported as being agreed in principle, and only to be firmed up if and when planning permission is granted. This would be for consideration by Wandsworth Council, not Merton. The LTA is said to have considered a number of sites for its Centre before opting for Roehampton.
One can only assume that - for the time being - the LTA has dropped its interest in Prince George's. I am not aware of the Open Space designation of the Bank of England sportsground, but if it is not the London equivalent of Green Belt, then the LTA may have better prospects in Wandsworth than it would have had on the Merton site, bearing in mind that, it seems, there is quite a lot of building work planned in addition to six indoor courts and sixteen outdoor courts. There will no doubt be a lot of consultation about this before anything happens, which we can observe from a distance. Meanwhile - once again - the future of Prince George's remains a concern.
You may recall my writing about the rather premature planning brief the Council produced - and quickly withdrew - for housing on a part of the St. Catherine's School site. At the time, the brief overlooked the fact that the College would require use of the school site until July 2005 while new building work was taking place in Edge Hill. I know there is talk about the College wanting (or perhaps needing) to retain use of the buildings for a longer period, and we may learn more about this later. In the meantime, as far as the Unitary Development Plan is concerned, St. Catherine's was earmarked as a "site proposal", and was therefore subject to consideration by the UDP Inspector, who published her report last August.
I should mention that there were a string of objections (to possible housing development on the site) made by, among others, Margaret Pye of our Association, largely on the grounds that the whole site is within the floodplain of the Beverley Brook.
The Inspector has made some interesting comments about this "site proposal". It is clear that she feels the site is not suitable for housing, and her preference would be to delete the proposal from the UDP. The alternative option she offers would be to retain the "site proposal", but with a suitable caveat added that residential development should only be considered if reasonable options in lower-risk parts of the borough are not available. She also added one or two other conditions. Her alternative recommendation stems directly from guidance in a Government document which incorporates advice from the Environment Agency, and her comments illustrate the concern which the Inspectorate has about development in flood-risk areas.
In general, the essence of the guidance (which is hardly rocket science when you think about it) is that, where there is a choice of development sites, residential development in particular should be kept away from flood-risk areas, whatever the level of risk might be. Fortunately for the residents of Merton, most of the borough is not in a flood-risk area, so choices do exist. In some ways, it is a pity that the LESSA sportsground was not itself the subject of a "site proposal". If it had been, the probability must be that the Inspector would have reached just the same conclusion about this site as she did in respect of the St. Catherine's School site. In short, keep housing well away from it !David J. Freeman