Survey on Greyhound Stadium Development Proposals
The Wimbledon Park Residents Association has carried out a survey in Wimbledon Park Ward asking residents’ opinion on three questions which concerned the development of the Greyhound Stadium.
The results can be summarised as follows
[Q1] 85% had not received any communication from Merton Council asking their opinion on the proposed development of the Greyhound Stadium. Only 4% thought they had received such a communication and 11% did not know if they had or not.
[Q2] 80% thought that a development comprising a 20,000 seater football stadium, 600 residential units and some retail space was not very beneficial for local residents while8% thought it was beneficial and 12% did not know.
[Q3] 72% opposed the development just mentioned, 11% neither supported or opposed, 10% supported it and 7% did not know.
The survey was carried out by knocking on successive doors in the road being surveyed and if there was a response, asking the persons who answered if they would take part in the survey. As a result a randomly chosen, and so representative, set of residents were questioned.
202 households were surveyed and, using a standard statistical formula, we can estimate the possible errors in our results compared to those that would follow from surveying all the residents; for example, on question 2 as 80% plus or minus 3%, 8% plus or minus 2% and 12% plus or minus 2% respectively.
It is clear from these results that the proposed development of a 20,000 seater football stadium, 600 residential units and some retail space is substantially opposed by the residents of Wimbledon Park Ward. Consequently the results of the survey will underpin any future actions by the Association.
(Article from the Easter 2014 Newsletter)
Update on the Greyhound Stadium Development
In this article we will outline some of the recent developments relating to the proposals for the site containing the Greyhound Stadium.
The Visit of the Planning Inspector
The Planning Inspector came to Merton to hear the submissions concerning the Greyhound Stadium on the 23 January 2014. The task of the Inspector was to ensure that the Local Development Plan put forward by Merton Council, in which the Greyhound Stadium site was one of the most important, was sound.
Merton Council had proposed to deliver the Greyhound site through a supplementary planning document. The Wimbledon Park Residents Association (WPRA) opposed this, citing National Planning Guidelines. Essentially we feared that this would be a process not subject to the scrutiny required to ensure that the planning rules were correctly applied. The Planning Inspector agreed with us and this method of delivering the site was withdrawn by Merton Council. Another success, which was supported by WPRA and Merton Council, but opposed by the developer Galliard Homes, was that the site of the Greyhound Stadium was confirmed as a site most at risk of flooding (technically a 3b designation). This will place restrictions on what can be developed on it.
However, it is unclear if the Inspector will support the WPRA’s wish to revise the description of the Greyhound Stadium site as regards transport and flooding. It was claimed that these comments were “just sign posts”. Merton Council opposed this change and explained that it would fully comply with National Planning Guidelines. We must await the Planning Inspector’s final report to find out his final thinking on this point, but we will in any case be holding Merton Council to their words.
The Submission of the Scoping report by Galliard Homes GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon
Even before the Inspector has finalised his report, Galliard Homes, GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon have submitted what is called a scoping report. This document is a forerunner to the inevitable planning application that they are going to submit and it concerns the type of studies they must carry out and submit with their planning application. These developers are hoping to construct a 20,000 seater football stadium, 613 residential units and some retail space.
The WPRA have made a submission to Merton Council objecting to the very limited nature of the proposed studies in the scoping document. We do not think that the developers should only consider how to dispose of the “surface water” on the site. Instead they should comply with National Planning Polices as they apply to a 3b functional flood plain. This site has two sources of flooding: the ground water, arising from the fact that the site is on gravel bed, and also possible flooding from the River Wandle should it overflow as it has in the past. We think the developers should explain how they will hold, within the site, all the water generated from either source and in particular not allow the water to escape to the surrounding areas. Furthermore they should do this in such a way that the flooding on the site is no more than it is at present. We note that the site was subject to regular flooding throughout the winter.
The site is universally acknowledged to have a very poor transport rating (technically a PTAL score of 2) which cannot be significantly improved. As such the very substantial number of crowds will have to walk to the stadium from the transport hubs such as Wimbledon Station, Wimbledon Park, Haydon’s Road, Earlsfield and Tooting Broadway in Wandsworth. It is difficult to imagine that such large crowds can be accommodated without causing problems in the shopping centres and residential areas. We note that it is often the case that modern stadiums are largely designed so as to keep crowds away from residential and shopping centres.
To financially service such a large stadium it is likely that it will be used for other purposes such as concerts and other sporting activities. The developers have not proposed any realistic solution to the transport problems. They suggested that “transport effects will be considered and assessed for the surrounding network where links will experience a change of traffic greater than 30%…”. Local residents will know that even a modest increase in traffic, and certainly one much less than 30%, will bring chaos to the, already heavily congested, surrounding roads.
Merton Council did commission a study in 1996 to see if it was possible to build a 20,000 seater stadium on the Greyhound site. However the study concluded that this would not be possible and it would only be possible for a 10,000 seater
stadium if there was a dedicated tram link built to the site. While this study is old, its conclusion still holds, particularly once one realises that traffic on local roads has trebled since 1996.
The cavalier attitude of the developers to the planning guidelines is not very encouraging and one might be left with the impression that they do not care about local residents and are only interested in achieving their own ambitions regardless of the effects on the residents of Wimbledon Park Ward.
There are essentially two proposals for the redevelopment of the Greyhound Stadium. As we have mentioned, Galliard Homes, GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon want to build a 20,000 seater football stadium, 613 residential units and some retail space. While a group, lead by Paschal Taggart, wants to build an upmarket stadium for Greyhound Racing (maximum capacity 4,500), 400 residential units and some retail space.
We have explained in our submissions to Merton Council during the consultation period that we think that the proposal by Galliard Homes GLRA Ltd and AFC is incompatible with National Planning Policies. As we have mentioned, the site is one at highest risk of flooding and is in a transport area with a very poor rating and we do not think that it can be modified to satisfy the planning policies that apply. Planning policies are there to ensure that new developments do not adversely impact local residents and shopping centres. While we certainly do not oppose AFC Wimbledon coming back to the borough we do not think the Greyhound Stadium site is suitable.
Clearly, the Greyhound proposal does not have the same transport problems, as the crowds will be rather similar to those that presently use the stadium. It is also possible that they can design their proposal in such a way that they do satisfy the National Flooding Guidelines. We note that their proposed stadium only has three sides and the centre is an area which can be used to hold flood water; certainly they have submitted a comprehensive and interesting flood study at theconsultation stages.
The survey carried out by the Wimbledon Park Residents Association, which results are reported in this newsletter, showed that a large majority of residents are opposed to the proposal of Galliard Homes, GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon. This concurs with the planning arguments we have consistently advanced and as a result we oppose the proposal of Galliard Homes GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon and support the Greyhound proposal. We will be asking if our local councillors, and the conservative grouping as a whole, if they will change their stance and clearly support the viewpoint of the residents in their ward.
Once Galliard Homes GLRA Ltd and AFC Wimbledon have made a planning application it will be considered by the Merton Council who will at the same time notify the Mayor, Boris Johnson. It is rather likely that he will call in the application and decide on it himself. He has already made encouraging noises in favour of the Greyhound proposal and this coupled with the planning difficulties of the other proposal, mean that there is everything to play for.
We will continue with our endeavours to ensure that that any development of the Greyhound Stadium is appropriate in planning terms; beneficial for the area and will take into account the interests of local residents who will be most affected.
Redevelopment of the Greyhound Stadium
to a 20,000 – seater football Stadium ?
Like all local authorities, Merton is obliged to declare a designated use for important development sites in the borough and this includes the Greyhound Stadium, called site 37. The council carried out its ‘Sites and Policies’ consultation exercise from January 2012 to the end of August 2013 and has decided that this site is best suited for Sporting intensification with enabling development (this means building residential and retail units to make the scheme viable).
They should have consulted you as a local resident living close to this site. Did they?
Site 37 is a very difficult site to develop; it is an area that is at high risk of flooding according to the Environment Agency and is universally acknowledged to have poor access by public transport that would be difficult to improve.
There are two developers who have made proposals.
Hume Consulting Ltd, on behalf of Paschal Taggart, who is a very well known personality in Irish Greyhound circles, who wishes to build a new greyhound stadium which would accommodate a maximum of 4,500 spectators, 400 residential units and a supermarket. They have indicated that they would no longer have stock car racing.
On the other hand, AFC Wimbledon and GLA Ltd propose to build a 20,000 – seater football stadium for AFC Wimbledon, 600 residential units, 6-10 stories high, and a retail space.
Our response to these proposals can be found here wimpkresassoc_aug2013
We considered site 37 from the viewpoint of Merton’s own Core Planning strategy and the National Planning Guidelines which are the documents that should be used to determine what is the appropriate development. We do not regard the building of a stadium with such a large capacity (20,000) to be consistent with the very restricted public transport and we consider that the building of a large number of residential units is not compatible with the flood risk.
As such we do not think that the development proposed by AFC Wimbledon and GLA Ltd is consistent with Merton’s and National Planning principles.
While we do not have any fundamental objection to AFC Wimbledon aspiring to a new ground in the borough we do not think the Greyhound Stadium is a suitable site.
Talking to those residents who were living in the area when Wimbledon Football Club were still playing in Plough Lane (with a maximum capacity of around 6,000) does not provide much reassurance.
The impact of large crowds, 10,000-20,000, which is the number planned, would be very considerable and has the potential to blight Wimbledon Park Ward, which has two main transport hubs; Wimbledon Park Tube station and Haydons Road Railway station.
Similar concerns apply to Wimbledon town centre and in particular its vitality as a shopping centre.
The proposal of AFC Wimbledon and GLA Ltd was submitted to Merton Council well after the deadline for planning proposals to be submitted. Indeed there is considerable concern that Merton Council has not taken a completely fair and balanced approach to this process. The Council rejected our proposals to use the site 37 for offices, for a school or to move other developments that are more suited to being in a flood plain, from their existing sites and build a school, or houses, on the sites which are vacated. Such developments would legitimately help towards meeting some of Merton’s important strategic goals
The next step in the process is for the proposal by Merton for site 37 to beconsidered by a government- appointed Independent Planning Inspector. Your residents association will be present during this process, which starts on the 21st January 2014, at the Civic Centre. We hope that our planning arguments will carry some weight with the Planning Inspector.
Our research so far reveals that local residents have not been aware of theproposed developments and have not been consulted. We think it is time for local residents to make their views known. We will be seeking your views so that we can represent them to the Inspector.
Should you wish to help us with this effort please contact:
Iain Simpson (Home Park Road) 07836 361 782,
(Arthur Road and surrounds) email@example.com
Peter West (Cromwell Road) 0208-540-1257,
(Haydons Road and surrounds) firstname.lastname@example.org
John Bilsland (Wellington Road) 0208 944 7776
(Wellington Road & surrounds) email@example.com
Ardi Kolah (Kohat Road) 0208 542 8786
(Kohat Road and surrounds) firstname.lastname@example.org