AFC Wimbledon Set To Return To Plough Lane

Sadiq Khan hands planning permission decision back to Merton Council

AFC Wimbledon are set to return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan handing the planning 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.

The Mayor’s move to allow the council to continue the planning process for the new stadium and housing development follows a GLA report published at the end of July which indicated that this would be Sadiq Khan’s intention.

Wimbledon said in a statement on their website: "We welcome this decision and we hope that in the near future Merton Council will confirm that the planning application has been granted.

"When this is done it will be a major step forward for the club's ambitions to return to our home in Merton and a genuine cause for celebrations."

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “This is the icing on the cake in what has been a superb two weeks for British sport at the Olympics.

"I am absolutely thrilled with the Mayor’s decision to hand the decision back to us and we look forward to the home-coming of this much-loved and well-deserving team. Merton wants to see AFC Wimbledon back on Wimbledon turf. We will now be working with the applicant towards the delivery of the site. The club has been very patient throughout the process and now the dream of players and fans alike, many of whom are local, is set to become reality.”

But neighbouring Wandsworth Council has raised concerns that the number of new homes plus a stadium will create unreasonable pressure on the area’s transport network, with increased traffic congestion and more passengers accessing local rail services, especially at the already busy and crowded Earlsfield Station.

Critics also say the proposals do not provide enough parking spaces for such a large scale development, especially when this would also need to include coaches for the away team and their fans.

Councillor Sarah McDermott, Wandsworth Council planning committee chairman, said: “This is a bitter disappointment for Earlsfield and Tooting residents who will bear the brunt of this excessive development. The Mayor openly opposed this scheme when he was MP for Tooting so it’s hard to understand why he’s now cheering for its “great benefits”. Nothing has changed and it certainly doesn’t meet his mayoral planning policies on air quality or affordable housing.

“The impacts on our schools, healthcare and transport network will be very difficult to manage and we feel badly let down.”

  • The planning process will conclude at Merton council's planning committee on 15 September where the Mayor of London’s consultation and response will be noted. The scheme can then be progressed.

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August 22, 2016