Chairman's Report 2010-2011


I said at this time last year that when the markets pick up, the builders will be back with a vengeance. So it has proved.  We now have three major sets of building works in Grand Drive, and are trying our best to prevent any development on a fourth site.  Two of these sites are former sports fields, and the All England Ground is a current sports field.  The green areas which make this such an attractive place to live are being eroded away at an alarming pace.

The trend was started at the former Royal and Sun Alliance ground. There the Council allowed development on some 12% of the site, but on the basis that the rest of the land should be gifted to three local schools, together with a cash donation of £300,000, so that they could have much needed sports facilities.  The land take was relatively small, and the needs of the schools for sport very pressing. One block of flats has already been built, and more will follow.  

The developers seized on that precedent, and presented a plan that was said to be similar for the LESSA site, but it was not similar. The Association opposed that on the principle that there should be no development, and the Council’s planning committee turned it down.  The Inspector allowed it on appeal, and, as we all know, the building proceeds apace. The land take there, for the houses and roads, we calculated to well be over 20%.  The Inspector imposed many conditions and we have been trying to ensure that these are kept to the letter. But we have real doubts that the major reason why he gave permission can be met. He was persuaded to give permission since he was told that the developers would enter an agreement with King’s College School for them to build pavilions, and would maintain and use the fields for their junior pupils.  There was no binding agreement to this effect.

As we expected, the Irish owners sold the land to the present building company - at a great profit - as soon as they got permission. There has been no word that King’s College School is going to take on the sports fields. Indeed, the School has taken on a lease at the All England Ground, and there is no indication that they want two grounds in addition to their existing facilities. No other school or organisation has been mentioned as likely to take over the ground. The inevitable fallback position is that, once the developers have sold the flats and houses and made their profit, the fields will be given to the Council in their present derelict state, and we know that the Council can in no way can afford to build the pavilions or improve and maintain the land in a good state for sporting use.

The other sporting use intended at LESSA was that the Raynes Park Tennis Club would move there. This may happen, but it depends on a number of uncertain factors, including whether the Club gets planning permission for flood lighting, and the degree to which the members will have to fund the costs themselves; so even that is far from certain.

What is certain is that these two developments, together with the flats being built at breakneck speed on the St Catherine’s site, will mean that there will be some hundreds of new residents in our area, many of whom will have children of school age and many of whom will have cars.

There will, of course, be another hundred and more new residents in Raynes Park when the Waitrose development is completed later this year. The number of cars permitted on this site is limited, but this will not stop the flat owners from buying cars and parking them on the surrounding streets. This will lead in turn to demands for the Council to introduce parking restrictions on neighbouring streets, which, on past form, are likely to be strongly opposed.

There are no proposals by the Council to provide new nursery, primary, and secondary school provision, or health provision, to cater for these additional residents. The developers will have to make a small section 106 payment to the Council, but this will not even begin to meet the costs of additional schooling and health provision. There are also no proposals to improve the road network, and it is hard to see how it can be improved in any meaningful way. 

We have tried to persuade the planning committee in all our objections that they need to take an overall view of the number and size of developments in this area, and not take each application in isolation. We have proved that the number of developments already under construction is far in excess of the housing targets for this area. The planners have consistently said that they have to look at each proposal on its own merits.  They have said that the extra traffic is not a reason to turn them neither down, nor is lack of educational and health facilities.

We believe that this is a fundamentally wrong approach, and that no further development should be allowed here. We should be allowed to put up the “house full” signs. We do not have the infrastructure to cope with any extra housing.

That was the overwhelming message that came from the 180 or so residents who packed the open meeting to discuss the development on the Raynes Park Playing Fields (the All England Lawn Tennis Club site, Grand Drive).  There has been universal opposition to this proposed development from the four streets that surround it, and much wider.  Petitions of hundreds of residents have been presented to the Council, as well as many individual letters of objection, on issues such as safety of access, lack of amenity, floodlighting, and flooding.   We had major flooding over the winter.

There had been no prior discussion of these proposals with local residents, contrary to the intention of the Localism Bill and the promises of the new Council administration.  We hope that the planning committee, when it comes to discuss the present or any other proposal to develop on the All England land (which is still regularly used for sports) will take a wider view of its responsibilities to local people.


Some successes

It is not all doom and gloom though. We have had some successes in preserving our local environment.

The proposal to build an anaerobic food digester on the Rainbow Estate in Raynes Park will not proceed, and the site has been taken off the list for proposal waste disposal.  We understand that Stephen Hammond MP has been having discussions with Council officers as to the future of the site on our behalf.  It is a large area in the middle of Raynes Park that is semi-derelict, and is currently zoned for industrial use. It is landlocked. We must seize the opportunity to make full use of this important town centre site for the whole community.

Another success is that for the moment at least, we have won the battle to stop Prince George’s Playing Fields being used for commercial purposes above the number of events permitted by law. Local residents can now, largely, enjoy the peace of a weekend.

The street scene in Raynes Park has been much improved by the removal of most of the advertisement hoardings, and the embankment areas on both sides kept better, although not yet clear of litter.  The money from the Waitrose development has been used to tidy up the Coombe Lane side of the station, and we may even have the tree we were promised.

The proposal to ban a right turn over the West Barnes crossing has worked. This has proved very helpful in allowing traffic to find another route while Kingston Road has been closed to traffic for the gas main renewal.



An enormous amount of hard work is done by very many people to run the Association. I want to thank our Area Co-ordinators and Road Stewards who are vital to us as the key link in delivering the Guides, in collecting the subscriptions, and in keeping us informed of local issues.

The Association is very lucky to have such a well informed and dedicated Committee that meets most months, and e-mails regularly in between.

Our joint secretaries are Jill Truman and Jan Bailey. Both of them buzz with energy and enthusiasm.  Jill continues as our Editor, and the Guide is even fuller than ever, with articles of real interest. She continues to take a special interest in the Coombe Lane area. She takes on the responsibility of providing the food for our Christmas party and the AGM. She has been an active member for so many years and I hope will continue for many years yet.  Jan continually astonishes me with her grasp of local issues, and, in particular, her amazing knowledge of local watercourses and rights of way. She always knows what’s happening. She is our Minutes secretary, and these are thorough and detailed.   Both regularly attend other local meetings such as the Raynes Park Association, and the Community Forum.

Our planning experts, David Freeman, Pamela Robinson, and Jerry Cuthbert also regularly attend other local meetings, including the planning committee. Much of our work deals with planning issues, and they provide the reasoned objections on behalf of the Association. It is a great comfort to know that we are in such good hands.

I want to thank Rachel Skinner, Andrew Barwick, and Charles Briscoe-Smith who have managed to bring us into the 21st century with a web site that we can be proud of.  The process of getting it live took at a great deal of time and effort, and we are very grateful to them.  Rachel is also our transport expert, and has liaised on our behalf with the Council on issues such as the Grand Drive traffic lights and parking restrictions in Raynes Park.  Andrew took on the role of Distribution Manager last year, and is full of ideas for increasing our membership.

Kate Price has continued to be our Advertising Manager.  She would like to stand down for personal reasons, and we are very grateful that she has agreed to carry for the moment until we can find her replacement in this important job that keeps our revenues going.

Talking of revenues brings me to John Townsend who took over as our Treasurer this time last year.  He has come to the job with great energy, and has managed at last to put our assets where they can earn some interest. We are also grateful to our  Auditor, Brian Lewis-Lavender.

Peter Connellan continues to keep us informed about issues in the Claremont Avenue area.

I would also like to thank our Councillors for their assistance. The three West Barnes Councillors, Gilli Lewis-Lavender, Mary-Jane Jeanes, and Iain Dysart have attended all the Committee meetings that they could. Cllr. Rod Scott has also been very helpful on issues in the Raynes Park ward.


Next year

Next year there will be a decision on the planning application for the AELTC’s Raynes Park Playing Fields. The existing residential developments will open.  The cuts the Council has to make will require us to try and protect local amenities, including West Barnes Library and the Community Forums.  We await the promised angling club on Cannon Hill Lake. We also await a decision on whether the pavilion on the Common will be replaced.  We hope that the proposals for the Grand Drive/Bushey Road junction will give more time for traffic coming from Grand Drive to get through the lights.  We hope that sometime the gas main works on Kingston Road and proposed for Coombe Lane will be finished!  The Association will be needed as much as ever, and we continue to be grateful for whatever help local people can give.


John Elvidge, Chairman                                              March 2011                                  

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