Club boss hails "momentous day" for the fans
AFC Wimbledon have taken a major step in their plans to return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane after Merton councillors last night approved their application to build a new 20,000-seater football stadium in the borough.
The cross-party planning application committee heard opinions for and against the development of the current greyhound track in Plough Lane.
As well as a 20,000-seater football stadium, there will be 602 new homes, retail space, a squash and fitness club, car and cycle parking. The initial capacity will be 11,000.
Now the council has given the green light to the redevelopment of Plough Lane, the plans will be sent to the Mayor of London.
Speaking after the planning committee meeting at Merton Civic Centre, AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Erik Samuelson, said: "We are all absolutely delighted. This has been a momentous day for our club and the most important event since we reformed it 13 years ago.
"Following the sale of our former Plough Lane site and the decision by the FA to allow Wimbledon FC’s Football League place to be moved to Milton Keynes, our fans did something unprecedented in the football world – we decided to re-form the club, enter the football hierarchy at the lowest level and repeat what the old Wimbledon FC did with massive success, namely make our way up through the many leagues into the Football League.
"We started with nothing, no team, no stadium, no manager, not even a strip to wear. But what was different this time was that the club was formed by and remains owned by the fans, in other words we are firmly rooted in our community.
"We have never lost sight of that and so we have focused the majority of our community works on Merton because this is our home and we are delighted that we have been granted planning approval to return to Wimbledon.
"On behalf of the club and our supporters, we would like to place on record our thanks to Merton’s councillors who have demonstrated their support for our club and our work by supporting us to come home."
Galliard Homes Director Mike Watson said: "We are delighted to have received planning permission to redevelop this important brownfield site. Alongside AFC Wimbledon’s new stadium, we will be providing 602 new high quality homes, a new squash and fitness facility and a retail unit. These new homes will make a significant contribution towards Merton’s own minimum 10 year target for new homes and the regeneration of this part of Merton.”
Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: "This is an important proposal which our very experienced planning officers have been looking into in detail over a number of months. We have always said this site should be for sporting intensification.
"Our independent planning committee has taken into account all the planning issues that are relevant. It is now for the Mayor of London to make his decision."
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, Conservative Councillor for Wimbledon Park ward, said: "It’s great to have the Dons back. We have always supported the return of AFC Wimbledon to the borough.
"We still have reservations about the scale of the Galliard Homes commercial development and the failure of Labour-run Merton to provide infrastructure investment to support a development of this size. We need to be focused not only on building much needed homes for Londoners but also on building communities.
"We will therefore continue to lobby Galliard Homes and Merton’s Labour administration to address the legitimate concerns residents have outlined about the need for adequate investment in local school places, GP services and transport infrastructure, all of which are already under strain.
"We wish the Dons all the best in their new home and will be supporting them in their continued rise up the Football League."
December 11, 2015