White Hart Pub Demolition Set for Approval

Planners recommending approval for 271 student flats on Kingston Road

A visualisation of the planned halls of residence. Picture: Wimbledon College of Arts
A visualisation of the planned halls of residence. Picture: Wimbledon College of Arts

April 19, 2023

A former Wimbledon pub could soon be replaced with more than 250 student flats. Plans to demolish The White Hart in Kingston Road as well as a neighbouring MOT garage will be discussed by Merton Council’s planning committee next week.

Wimbledon College of Arts wants to build a halls of residence with 271 rooms for students. If approved, it would comprise of a new building between four and six storeys tall which would sit beside tram tracks.

The college in Merton Hall Road doesn’t currently have dedicated halls of residence with the closest in Streatham. It is part of the University of the Arts London and currently has 700 students with plans to expand to more than 1,000.

In a report, Merton Council’s planning officers said the pub has been empty for eight years and there are others nearby, mostly in Wimbledon town centre. It concludes the loss of the White Hart “is considered to be reasonably justified”.

The closed White Hart pub
The closed White Hart pub

The plans outline that the development would be arranged around a central courtyard which would be used by students. The upper floors of the building would have individual bedrooms with shared student kitchens and lounge spaces while the ground floor would have common rooms and admin offices.

The plans also include a ground floor shop space of 275 square metres on the corner of Rutlish Road and Kingston Road. Overall the plans received 21 letters of objection.

The Wimbledon Society raised concerns with the six-storey height in the area which is mostly two-storey buildings. The organisation said the building going up the edge of the site will “appear intrusive”.

It said, “The principal issue is one of height. With predominantly two-storey development in both Kingston Road and Rutlish Road, the six storeys being proposed will be seen as a significant mass. One way of handling this would be to set the building back from both roads.”

A planning statement from Rolfe Judd Planning on behalf of the University of the Arts London said: “The scheme has been sensitively designed with the massing and scale carefully considered to ensure it respects the established character of the area, whilst suitably protecting the amenity of adjoining residential properties. It would replace buildings which currently detract from the visual amenities of the area; are incongruous elements in the established urban grain; and would repair the street scene along Kingston Road and Rutlish Road.”

The plans are recommended for approval and will be decided by Merton Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, 26 April. The committee will meet at Merton Civic Centre from 7.15pm.

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter

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