Church Designs For South Wimbledon Community Centre Turned Down

Proposed scheme said to be out of character for the area

Merton Council's own plans to transform the historic Merton Hall community building in South Wimbledon have been turned down by its planning committee.

It is proposing to enable the existing Elim Church in High Path to move into the existing community centre in Kingston Road. This would then enable the new Harris Wimbledon Academy - a mixed ability free school - to be built on the High Path estate.

But the Elim Church is demanding a bigger hall than the existing building, as well as a 'black box' theatre space with no windows or natural light.

The plans submitted by Merton Council to its own planning department stated the bigger space will require significant external cooling, which will need a new roof structure.

"Significant acoustic work" is also recommended to prevent sound from the hall disturbing neighbours.

The Wimbledon Society, the Victorian Society and the John Innes Society all registered objections to the plans.

A number of local residents objecting to the scheme attended the recent planning meeting. The scheme was turned down as Councillors felt the design was not in keeping with the current building, nor the neighbouring Merton Manor Club.

The existing two-storey Merton Hall was built in 1899 and is on Merton Council's list of buildings of historical or architectural interest.

The church had stated they require locating into a building which will have a significant presence in the locality defined be a strong visual statement which will be designed to be inviting and interesting to their congregation members, passers-by and members of the public.

The traditional church appearance is not a style that they wish to see with the building. The scheme would reduce the number of car parking spaces from seven to three.

The design proposed (below) increases the size of the front elevation, with glazing features that will still allow the original building to be seen through the glass.

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April 28, 2017

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Merton Hall as it is now