Call for Minister to scrutinise football stadium plan

Published: Wednesday 31st August 16

Wandsworth Council has formally asked Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene in the planning row with Merton over the controversial plans to redevelop Wimbledon Stadium.

The two local authorities have opposing views on the future use of the land and the impact the current redevelopment plans will have on residents and businesses in both boroughs.

The site lies right on the borough boundary and is earmarked for a new football stadium, 602 homes and a large supermarket.

If approved, the football stadium would initially have a ground capacity of 11,000 but with scope to rise to 20,000. It would become home to AFC Wimbledon which is reportedly in the process of selling the lease on its existing ground in Kingston to Chelsea FC for up to £2m.

Merton, which is the planning authority for the site, strongly supports the proposal, publicly stating it wants the football club to return to Wimbledon. In contrast Wandsworth has expressed serious concerns about the impact of the development on people living in Tooting and Earlsfield and local businesses.

Wandsworth argues that the scheme will create unreasonable pressure on the area’s transport network, with increased traffic congestion on roads and more passengers accessing already busy and crowded rail services at nearby Earlsfield Station.

Local campaigners also say the proposals do not provide enough parking spaces for such a large scale development.

Wandsworth’s view is that because the site lies on the borough boundary and its redevelopment will have a significant impact on both areas, the application needs independent scrutiny.

This was set to happen when the application was called in to be determined at Mayoral level by the previous Mayor Boris Johnson. However that decision was reversed earlier this month by his successor Sadiq Khan, who announced he was content to let the scheme proceed, even though he opposed it when MP for Tooting.

With the Mayor withdrawing from the process Wandsworth’s councillors believe the secretary of state should now step in to provide an impartial judgment.

In his letter to Mr Javid the leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia states: “Given the scale of the development and the direct and significant impact on this borough I am of the firm view that this matter requires an additional degree of scrutiny and assessment by an impartial authority.

“I was hoping that the new Mayor of London would provide this additional degree of scrutiny on the strategic matters raised by this proposal but he has decided not to utilise his powers in this instance.

“I would therefore request that you intervene in the determination of this planning application. This will enable a balanced decision on the application which reflects and mitigates the strategic impacts on both boroughs and give a higher degree of public confidence in the planning process.”

Speaking earlier this month, Wandsworth’s planning chairman Cllr Sarah McDermott said: “The fundamental problem with this development is that Merton gets all the gain while Wandsworth gets all the pain.

She added:  “Unfortunately the only way the football ground can be provided is if the developer is given permission to cram in an excessive number of homes on this site.

"Merton has already stated very publicly that it wants the football club to return, but as it stands this will be at the expense of our residents who will suffer from the increased pressure on local transport infrastructure and other public services.

“There are very valid concerns about this application on both sides of the borough boundary and these need to be examined objectively and impartially.

“Sadly, given the very public announcements of support from those in very senior positions at Merton, I’m afraid we have no confidence in its ability to fulfil its obligations as an impartial and objective planning authority."

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Recent comments

Looks like the Secretary of State has given short shrift to Wandsworth Council's shameful blocking tactics. If I was a Wandsworth voter I'd be asking my council how much taxpayer's money they'd wasted on this posturing

27 September 2016

I am both a Wandsworth resident (32 years) and an AFC wiimbledon supporter. I think the Council is being short sighted. AFC Wimbledon is a fan owned community club with a strong outreach programme for local schools. It is just the sort of enterprise that Wandsworth should be supporting. As far as putting pressure on local resources it is time the Secretary of State looked at Wandsworths relentless densification of flats and apartements. Upper Richmond Road, the Ram Brewery the Riverside development without so much as a single improvement to roads railways or public parking. Ok for Wandsworth if it makes a profit but not ok for anybody else. The Council should be ashamed of its position
Dr M V Tas

23 September 2016

This is a topic that is close to my heart… Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?

11 September 2016

Ram Brewery redevelopment.......? "The approved plans include a 36-storey residential tower, as well as more than 10,683 square metres of commercial space including new shops, cafes, bars and restaurants." Nothing about schools or medical services. And WBC objects to Plough Lane? WHY?
Celia Blair

7 September 2016

How on earth can Wandsworh cope with a football stadium, since Lidil has opened it has caused no end of traffic problem all alomNg Summerstown and Plough Lane. Today was exceptionally bad, it's impossible to get anywhere due to the traffic and dangerous trying to exit Lidils. It is very clear that no thought has been given to residence in Wandsworth just for a supermarket, let alone a Footballl Stadium.
Frances Kinnaird

4 September 2016

More rank hypocrisy from Wandsworth Council. "Only WE can build masses of high density housing!" Wandsworth Council has got to be the most arrogant local authority going.. Money money money is all they care about..
Ian Harrison

4 September 2016

Yet again you are trying to interfere with a decision taken by a neighbouring Borough. Wandsworth meanwhile is busy building a mini Hong Kong on the Youngs Brewery site with unimaginable consequences for local residents, not least the traffic chaos which will go on for years. As you feel able to challenge Merton for alleged disruption from the Dons stadium, presumably you must agree that motorists and others who have to travel through Wandsworth during this time should be petitioning their Boroughs to stop your plans? Of course you don't. So please just back off. GP
Garry Patten

4 September 2016

This development will make Garratt Lane impassable at times and congested in general. The pollution in Earlsfield (Garratt Ln) should be measured as it is getting difficult to breathe due to traffic congestion. The development on Merton Rd and Plough Lane (and poor planning) has made the Merton Road route to S. Wimbledon & Colliers Wood impossible. There is now a Lidl in the Plough Lane shopping centre which causes the roundabout severe traffic delays. This is also the route to St. Georges hospital. There are so many reasons that this project should not go further. It's absurd from a Wandsworth viewpoint. Sadiq Khan has left this mess to Wandsworth and he should be ashamed.
Paige Barry

4 September 2016

Wandsworth Council argument has no legs; forgot borough boundaries, football has been part of this community for over 100 years. They are more than happy to allow the building 600+ flats the other end of Garratt Lane. Typical double standards.
John Caldecott

3 September 2016

I welcome the football club back to the borough. That part of the borough is very bleak with a lot of the shops in a sad stat of affairs. I thought TFL had been factored into the porposal and this would be a good thing as current transport links are poor to say the least.
Barbra Davison

3 September 2016

I welcome the football club back to the borough. That part of the borough is very bleak with a lot of the shops in a sad stat of affairs. I thought TFL had been factored into the porposal and this would be a good thing as current transport links are poor to say the least.
Barbra Davison

3 September 2016

There is too much congestion on Plough lane already and the cut through from Tooting and past St. George's hospital. There is already a new supermarket just opened which is already adding to the traffic "flow".
jacqueline peaker

3 September 2016

I am resident of wandsworth borough and I strongly agree with merton borough plans to return AFC Wimbledon to their old stadium. What pressure on transport are you worried about. Home game every two weeks on Saturday morning? If you are really worried then use it as an argument for Cross Rail 2 station at Tooting Broadway.

2 September 2016

Oh dear, Wandsworth continues to badly embarrass itself over this. Wandsworth's professional planners gave this the ok, so did Merton's and so did the Mayor's. A multi-party democratically elected planning committee in Merton unanimously approved it. More scrutiny? it's already been done - the Mayor called it in, looked at it, consulted on it and then found 'no sound planning reasons to intervene' - that's because there aren't any. Not enough affordable? cramped development? - surely that's Ram Brewery, Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms, Battersea Reach and countless other schemes Wandsworth has waved through. Don't remember Wandsworth asking the Mayor or Secretary of State to give 'impartial decisions' on them - funny that !
Mark Newman

1 September 2016

Govindia's posturing on this is political. All professional bodies who have looked at this (Merton Planners, GLA Planners, Environment Agency, TFL and indeed Wandsworth's own planners) have offered constructive criticism & feedback, then agreement. He should stop wasting time, money and misleading Wandsworth residents

1 September 2016

How much of my council tax money (not to mention councillor time that could best be spent elsewhere) will Wandsworth continue to waste pursuing this ugly vendetta against a project which has been thoroughly and appropriately means tested by many bodies including their own planning officers? It's ridiculous and has gone on far too long. Wandsworth Council - THERE WERE NO OTHER BIDS ON THE TABLE FOR THE SITE. Get it?

1 September 2016

Wandsworth Borough Council should now publish Councillor Govindia's letter in full and provide people with a public link so that they (who pay their taxes for his position) can read what was written. It's called democracy. Surely the news team can now add this as a level of accountability?
Celia Blair

1 September 2016

WBC should now publish Councillor Govindia's letter and provide people with a public link so that they (who pay their taxes for his position) can read what was written. It's called democracy. Surely the news team can now add this as a level of accountability?
Celia Blair

1 September 2016

Is Cllr. Govindia now "Wandsworth Council"? At which meeting did "the council" decide to write to Javid? As residents we should be told. Is Cllr. McDermott's language "objective and impartial", in her choice of words like "cram"? This looks more and more like desperation.
Celia Blair

1 September 2016

Wandsworth - how many flats, shops, hotels are being built on the old Youngs Brewery site near Southsides? How much pressure on local infrastructure including increased traffic will this cause? Why was the primary school by York Road closed down and rebuilt as flats?

1 September 2016

There was a football stadium on plough lane back in the 80's and the team then we're in the premier league and won the fa cup but no one in Wandsworth council was concerned about transport problems or infrastructure and what troubles it was going to give to the people of Wandsworth.In fact I was living there at the time and we were all supporting this project and saying good on you .So why can't they do the same ?
Tony Matthews

31 August 2016