Sadiq Khan set to hand planning permission back to Merton Council
AFC Wimbledon are set to return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he planned to hand the decision back to Merton Council.
Former Mayor Boris Johnson had previously decided that the Greater London Authority, and not the borough council, would make the decision on plans for development of the greyhound track site in Plough Lane.
AFC Wimbledon's plans include a 20,000-seater football stadium, 602 new homes, retail space, a squash and fitness club, car and cycle parking. The ground's initial capacity will be 11,000.
Merton councillors had voted unanimously in favour of the scheme in December 2015.
Now Sadiq Khan's report makes clear he is minded to return the authority to make the decision to Merton Council. A consultation about his plan started on July 27 and will last just 14 days.
The report is available on the GLA website. A decision from the Mayor is expected once all the responses to the consultation have been considered.
AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Erik Samuelson said: “We are delighted that the Mayor of London has announced the next steps in the process. The planning application we submitted to Merton Council was subject to two public consultations and a very thorough review by the council’s planning committee, along with planning officers at Wandsworth Council, and the GLA. All of those representatives supported the approval of the planning application.
"Therefore, we are confident that this further consultation will end with the planning application being returned to Merton Council. Once we have had a chance to fully assess the GLA’s statement, we will offer guidance to supporters about how they can help. Until this guidance is published, we ask fans to be patient in our quest to return the club to its spiritual home.”
Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis added: “I’m delighted our new Mayor has acted so quickly to sort out the uncertainty caused by Boris Johnson. Along with a fantastic football stadium, the Plough Lane development will also bring much needed housing for Londoners which I know is a priority for the new Mayor. The people of Merton want their football club back and this move brings us a step closer to making that dream a reality.”
But Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “This is a very disappointing decision by the Mayor which paves the way for major upheaval and disruption. When Mr Khan was MP for Tooting he opposed these plans because of the impact this development would have on his constituents. Quite why he has changed his mind so dramatically in the space of just a few months is difficult to fathom.
“The very small proportion of affordable homes being built on this site also flies in the face of Mr Khan’s manifesto pledge that he wanted to see a 50% level on all big housing developments.
“There is also serious concern that the extra traffic congestion and road closures that will be put in place every time a football match is played will mean additional difficulties for ambulances taking emergency patients to St George’s Hospital – a regional trauma centre that’s only a few hundreds yards away. Plough Lane is a vital transport corridor to the hospital which may be blocked or closed off on match days.”
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July 27, 2016