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

Association News, January 2003

Fishing on Cannon Hill Common

Our thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to complete and send in the coupon in the November "Guide" requesting (once again) a ban on fishing in the lake. These were handed over to the Mayor at the December council meeting, together with the petition that has also been circulated.

We will ensure that the Council is made aware of the strength of local feeling about this matter. This is evidenced by the additional effort it has taken, not only to sign your name and write down your address but also cut out the coupon and post it off at a cost of at least 20p a time ! It's also a boost to our confidence to realise how many of you do, in fact, read your "Guide".


Over the past few months, we have been collating information from our stalwart road stewards to determine exactly how many households are members of the Association, and where they are. The aim of this exercise is to produce a definitive and accurate membership roll. We hopethat this will enable us to embark on a recruitment drive and introduce ourselves to those who still may not know about this Association and what it aims to do. To help us in this task, we are designing some "welcome" cards for delivery to houses which have recently changed hands and for areas where we feel membership requires a boost. We will also be providing new reminder cards for road stewards to leave when subscriptions are due.

The Association's 75th anniversary

This year, the Association will have been up and running for 75 years. We are not too sure how to celebrate this anniversary, especially since we haven't the time to organise anything too ambitious. We are currently talking to the West Barnes Singers about sponsoring their summer concert, and considering the possibility of arranging a special anniversary dinner - but you may have other ideas that you would like to put forward. If so, we would like to hear from you.


I read in one of the Sunday "broadsheets" that Stephen Pound, MP for Ealing North, is being given time to introduce a Private Member's Bill - reportedly with backing from the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions - designed to exert control over the size of hedges, including the famous leylandii. I am told that some varieties of this can grow at a rate of 1m a year, and what starts out as a hedge can rather quickly become an avenue of trees obscuring views and blocking out daylight to neighbours.

As reported, such hedges would have to be restricted to no more than 2m in height. Under the proposed bill, neighbours who were unable to settle their differences amicably would be expected to go to mediation, but if they failed to agree then councils would have power to intervene and make a ruling binding on the owner of the offending hedge. Any owner ignoring the instructions could face a fine or, allegedly, even jail.

Keep a tape measure and the secateurs handy - you may need them !

Jill Truman

Planning applications

Raynes Park car park

About a year ago, I reported on what is called a Site Proposal in Merton Council's Unitary Development Plan (UDP). The original idea for this possible development was restricted to the area of the car park. In fact, the whole of the site, including the Thames Water Leak Unit, the petrol station and the car park, is Thames Water land, and, as I expected, Thames Water objected to the original idea because it could have involved building on the car park itself, which covers what they call their "pipetrack". At the UDP public inquiry last year, the Inspector felt that this site proposal should only be included in the Plan (when it is finalised in late 2003) if there was a reasonable chance of a development within the lifetime of the Plan itself (which in theory will run up to 2016).

I learn that this site proposal will be included in the UDP. We can only assume from this that Thames Water has agreed, in principle, to a re-development of the whole site. This is not to be taken as a commitment on its part, and we may be a very long way from seeing a planning application. Indeed, there is no certainty that one will ever arise, but if it does, it could embrace a foodstore fronting Coombe Lane and residential development. The expectation is that the foodstore would have its own dedicated car park, and that the existing public car park would be retained. Please note that all this is not much more than ideas at this stage.

34 Coombe Lane (Cosmo Hair Arcade)

A planning application (no. 02/P2093) has been submitted for a development on this site. In brief, this would involve a two-storey addition at the rear of the building, providing (probably) office accommodation but with two one-bedroom flats included and parking for five cars.

There is access to the rear of the building from Lambton Road. There is nothing in the application which suggests that a change of use from the existing hair arcade is likely. Unless significant changes to the scheme were proposed, it looks as though none of the new development would be visible from the Coombe Lane side, although it probably would be from the station platform.

1 Estella Avenue

This application was to demolish two garages alongside the existing house and erect a two-storey side extension to provide a separate dwelling house. The Association and nearby neighbours objected to this. The application was refused on several grounds, namely : that the scale of the development would be out of character with the location ; that it would have resulted in a garden of inadequate size ; and because of concerns about adding to residential development in the floodplain area.

129 Seaforth Avenue (Jack Wiley House)

I am sure that many people living in the West Barnes Area are familiar with this unusual building which is part office and part residential. Two planning applications were submitted many months ago, one to convert the premises into a guest house/hotel and the other for a conversion into flats. Both would involve a change of use and relatively extensive new development to the rear of the building.

Strong objections were made to both of these applications (with the help of the Association and of local ward councillors), the main reasons being loss of the office use, over-development of the site, inappropriate design and loss of amenity space. Both applications were refused by the Council, but the applicant has appealed against the decision. A group of people living close to the site, working together, have produced a very impressive letter of representation to the Planning Inspectorate pleading that the appeal be refused. We will watch this with interest.

Raynes Park library

As indicated last month, two presentations were held in the Raynes Park Assembly Rooms on 9th December by representatives of the Planning Bureau Limited. Robert Hobbs, from Merton's Community and Cultural Services department, was in the chair. The meetings were attended by several members of the Association, as well as Councillors Gilli Lewis-Lavender, Margaret Brierly, Horst Bullinger and Amanda Ramsay.

The Planning Bureau people were speaking on behalf of McCarthy and Stone, who specialise in sheltered housing schemes. A planning application for a re-development of the library site was submitted on 25th November 2002. The proposed scheme would provide a replacement library, a meeting room, and (as the "enabling" development) 29 sheltered housing units, three-quarters of which would be one-bedroom and the remainder two-bedroom. The library component would be along the front of the building, and the meeting room to the rear.

The plans do not envisage any parking provision for the residents on site, but there would be "operational" parking space for essential visitors and some parking provision for users of the library and meeting room. The building would be a four-storey structure with a pitched roof, and would have a slightly tiered effect from front to back. It is anticipated that the flats would be available for sale, on a leasehold basis, only to people aged 60 or above, although we were told that the occupants of such flats tend to be aged at least 70.

My guess is that this application is unlikely to go to the Planning Committee before February at the earliest. We will try to keep you informed. The actual planning application was not available as I write, and more details should be available later.

David J. Freeman