More Legal Moves Against Dundonald School Plans

Local tennis club also says it faces eviction

Campaigners fighting against plans to expand a primary school into a popular Wimbledon recreation ground are taking more legal action against Merton council.

Plans to increase the size of Dundonald Primary from a one-form entry to a two-form entry school, by replacing Dundonald Recreation Ground's pavilion with a two-storey building are being opposed by the Protect Dundonald Rec (PDR) campaign.

The plans had been put forward as part of a series of measures to find primary school places as the borough's birth rate has increased by 39% since 2002.

Merton council's Cabinet approved the plans last year, with a commitment that the development does not set a precedent for future building in the park (pictured below).

But PDR has now applied for a Judicial Review of the council's decision to erect notices which restrict public access to the tennis courts and bowling green.

Their announcement comes as Dundonald Rec Tennis Club (DRTC) says it will be "evicted" if the council's school expansion plans go ahead.

Lorraine Maries, chair of PDR, said: "To appropriate the tennis courts and bowling green, the Council is legally obliged to demonstrate that people don't use them - and that they are not needed by the public.

"Everyone knows that the tennis courts - indeed all of the Rec - are very well used all day and every day. The Council can expect many objections to the annexation of this public open space."

But Merton Council cabinet member Martin Whelton said: "We remain committed to expanding the school to provide excellent education to local children and are following the correct procedures so that this happens."

The Council has also said that the public will continue to have access to the tennis courts.

But Dr Ernesto Pinto, chair of DRTC, said: "The proposed appropriation by Merton Council would have a devastating effect on the sporting community, especially for those who play tennis or bowls. The pavilion will also be annexed and given over to the school.

"The council appears to be determined to prevent tennis from being played in the Rec. It is bizarre that Merton Council is not keen to see tennis played on some courts in SW19 - the home of tennis!"

He said the council is "adamant" there will be no public tennis during the week and local people will be charged for weekend use.

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October 9, 2013