Residents and Conservatives fight to protect Wimbledon Broadway car park
The day after Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a new fund to help communities save vital local facilities, residents fighting to retain the car park on Wimbledon Broadway applied for it to be listed as a protected asset.
On June 7, the Car Park Action Group made an application to Merton Council for the car park next to the New Wimbledon Theatre to be listed as an 'asset of community value' under the Community Right to Bid initiative introduced by the Localism Act 2011.
The scheme means that should the owner of a listed property (in this case, Merton Council) choose to sell it, a six month period would be triggered during which the community group would have the right to prepare a bid before the property could be sold on the open market.
Local resident and chairman of the Car Park Action Group, Viviane Delbourgo, said: "The car park is of great amenity value to the local community, supporting the New Wimbledon Theatre, Polka Theatre and the shops and services along Wimbledon Broadway and the surrounding streets. All of these assets make an enormous positive contribution to the local area. The parking available on this site ensures that these businesses and services remain viable.
"In addition, if the site were to be developed, the loss of parking at this location would put even greater pressure on the few parking spaces that are available in the surrounding streets that are designated as pay and display."
On March 11, Merton Council's Cabinet agreed to dispose of the property on the open market without restriction on use. Conservative councillors subsequently 'called in' the decision to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, which resolved to ask Cabinet to think again.
And at a Cabinet meeting on June 10, it was decided to prepare a report for discussion at the September Cabinet meeting - taking on board the issues raised by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.
The net revenue from the car park currently totals £220,000 per year and campaigners say the loss of this revenue will put additional pressure on Merton Council’s revenue budget.
A council parking study, carried out during 2012, showed the surface level car park operates at or near full capacity and, together with the surface level car parking on Hartfield Road, is one of the most popular car parks in Wimbledon.
Abbey Ward Conservative Councillor Henry Nelless said: "We welcome the decision to postpone the proposed sale of the P3 car park and call on Councillor Judge to actually consider how this car park, with investment, could be the source of a great boost to the future of Wimbledon town centre.
"Selling this car park for development will hurt Wimbledon Theatre and local businesses as well as hugely inconvenience local residents as visitor car parking is displaced onto surrounding roads. Not one good justifcation has been given for the sale of the car park, yet the reasons for not doing so are queuing up. I hope that the proposal is dropped altogether when it comes back for review later this year."
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June 14, 2013