Controversial scheme is removed from Merton planning agenda
Wimbledon residents crowd-sourced the funds to pay for a lawyer who helped put the brakes on plans to build a concrete batching plant on the banks of the River Wandle.
Approval for the scheme, which they say could have led to an extra 100 HGVs a day on Merton streets, has been put on hold after Richard Buxton, a UK expert in environmental law, warned Merton Council it would be "unlawful for the Council as matters stand to grant permission".
His fee was paid from donations from both individuals and a number of Wimbledon residents' associations, indicating the level of concern about rising numbers of heavy goods vehicles on local streets.
The controversial plans have been submitted for Waterside Way by Express Concrete, a subsidiary of Cappagh, which has its head office on the site.
"We are enormously grateful to everyone who gave money to help fight our corner," said Nicola Thompson, who organised a residents’ traffic survey that cast doubt over transport figures submitted by Express Concrete.
"This scheme would have more than doubled the number of HGVs leaving this site and entering the local road network. That would mean more lorries everywhere, from Plough Lane, Durnsford Road and Gap Lane, to Worple Road, Kingston Road, Merton High Street and beyond.
"Air quality and road safety throughout the whole borough would have suffered. We have received support from people across the whole of Wimbledon and Raynes Park who are concerned about rising numbers of HGVs on the streets.
"Express Concrete in their submissions said their scheme would halve the number of HGVs on the local road network. This was clearly a ludicrous claim. We proved it by observing the site over a number of weeks by eye then recording traffic movements on video over a number of days.
"On no day were there anywhere near the number of HGV movements that Express Concrete were claiming. They logged 195 HGV movements on the one day they surveyed. We saw less than 40.
"Nevertheless, council officers were prepared to recommend approval of this scheme. That’s when we realised we needed to get help to plead our case."
Richard Buxton writes in his letter: "It is clear that traffic information provided to the Council is materially wrong and/or misleading… The Council cannot conceivably be confident that it has proper information before it to proceed.”
Merton Council leaders withdrew the scheme from the planning applications committee agenda for Thursday (October 19) within hours.
Residents continue to donate to the fighting fund, confirmed Mrs Thompson, who lives in Cromwell Road and administers the local blogsite haydonsroadnorthcommuinity.wordpress.com.
"The council says the plans have been withdrawn while highways and air quality issues are re-investigated. Professional advice doesn’t come cheap. We may need to take further advice on this scheme, which many people around here believe is unsuitable for a site next to a protected regional park, close to public allotments, a children’s playground and primary school. HGV movements are just one of a number of issues at stake here."
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond and Sustainable Merton also appealed to Merton Council to withdraw the planning application on the basis that the officer’s report was based on unreliable evidence.
A Merton Council spokesperson said: "We are carefully reviewing the proposals, including the supporting materials and the concerns residents have raised before bringing the application back to committee for a fully informed decision."
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October 23, 2017