Student Village Plans For Historic Wimbledon Pub Site Are Revealed

Chance to comment on six-storey hall of residence scheme

The closed White Hart pub
The closed White Hart pub

Comments are being invited over plans to create a student village in a complex rising up to six storeys on the site of a historic Wimbledon pub.

The site of the former White Hart in Kingston Road has been the subject of several planning applications since the pub closed eight years ago.

Now developers want to house 271 students in a new building ranging in height from four to six storeys, and have also revealed more details about their plans.

The site, between Rutlish Road and the Merton Park tram stop, also covers Rutlish Auto Care Centre and Waterfall Garage Services.

Applicants University of the Arts London and Hollybrook Limited plan to demolish the pub and neighbouring garages to replace it with a 'u'-shaped block for students, with one shop and a main entrance onto Kingston Road.

When the plans first emerged last year the plans were to create accommodation for 293 students from Wimbledon College of Arts in nearby Merton Hall Road.

The scheme has since received a unanimous ‘green light’ from Merton Council’s Design Review Panel and more details have been revealed prior to a decision by the council’s Planning Committee.

A report prepared as part of the planning application claims feedback for the scheme has been “largely constructive”. An online survey received 32 responses to the online survey and 26 responses were received via hard copy feedback forms.

The report prepared for the developers stated: “Respondents were broadly supportive of the site being redeveloped and many were in favour of the site being used to provide a hall of residence to support Wimbledon College of Arts.

“Concerns from residents included the height of the proposed building, construction management, the operation and management of the building once open, and whether the café/shop at the ground floor would be beneficial for the existing community.”

The report by Kanda Consulting said there would be 24/7 security through a manned porter’s lodge and added that the café would be open to local residents.

In terms of the building height, they said: “The Applicants have carefully considered the feedback concerning height in the area and has reviewed the proposals to ensure it responds to the local context.

“It is the view of the applicant that the scale of the proposals is appropriate in this location, and that stepping back the upper floors of the building and moving the footprint of the building back from the current red line of the site will mitigate some of the impact of this scale.”

The floor to ceiling heights of student accommodation at 2.7m are lower than standard residential floor to ceiling heights of 3.05m. The result of which is that the six-storey maximum height of the proposal is largely the equivalent of a five-storey standard residential development.

The 1.5m-wide pavement in Kingston Road will be expanded to 4.5m as part of the proposed development, which is set to take place over two years until August 2025.

The application adds: “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 streetscene along Kingston Road and Rutlish Road.

“The proposed building will be taller than most of the surrounding buildings; however there are a few buildings within the surrounding landscape, also located on prominent corner plots that are tall and whose architectural style is different, thus giving these buildings prominence.

“The site is also directly adjoining a station where higher densities are generally expected and the development forms an important use meeting the needs of the local university. The street layout and existing trees will minimise the visual impact of the proposed building from within the two Conservation Areas, any harm will therefore be no greater than less than substantial harm.”

Merton Council is inviting comments on the development until March 15. To give your opinion, go to Merton Planing Explorer and look for application number 23/P0329.

New plans for White Hart pub site

How the new scheme could look from the corner of Kingston and Rutlish Roads

White Hart history factfile:

  • A pub has understood to have been on the site since at least 1700 and possibly even the 17th century.
  • The pub gave its name to the Hart Field the other side of Kingston Road.
  • In the 1820s it was the venue for the sale of the nearby Lord Nelson's estate in various lots took place.
  • The current building dates back to 1958 after the original was bombed during World War II.

February 26, 2023

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