Local developments

Tesco/Redrow Appeal Update - 13 January 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated 13 January 2021

The online public inquiry was concluded on Wednesday, 13th January.

The sessions were live streamed on YouTube and recorded by the Planning Inspectorate.

All the inquiry documents are available on Merton's website at https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/planning-permission/burlington-road-public-inquiry

 

  • However, we now have to wait for the Inspector to make her judgement.

 

As our Association is a "Rule 6" party to the inquiry, you may read our Proof of Evidence here .

 

Daily Reports on the Inquiry (8 December 2020 - 13 January 2021)

On the first day (8 December 2020), we had the opening statements from representatives for Redrow and London Borough of Merton, with John Elvidge speaking for our Association.  Also Councillor Hina Bokhari, Steve Lister (Champion’s Chairman), Andrew Hogarth (Deputy-Head RPHS), Matt Wingrove (resident) and Nick West (resident) all spoke eloquently urging refusal.

On Day 2 (9 December 2020), we heard the highways evidence submitted by Merton’s expert witness. This centred around an assessment of the degree to which the site is served by public transport, the accessibility of Motspur Park Station, whether 220 car parking spaces would be adequate for 456 flats and the possibility of increased street parking in the vicinity.

Day 3 (10 December 2020). Today, we heard further from Redrow's expert witness on transport. Much of his evidence today concerned his methodology for predicting the likely level of car ownership within the proposed development. Our members are obviously concerned over the possibility of overspill car parking into the residential streets of West Barnes. If this did happen, the solution being mooted would be the imposition of a new CPZ on residents in West Barnes.

So there is the possibility that residents near to the Tesco site might have to bear all the costs and inconvenience of a CPZ in their streets, so that Redrow only have to provide 48% parking capacity per dwelling for the new residents.

Day 4 (11 December 2020). The first session was to allow third parties to raise any matters that might be added to the Planning Conditions. These Conditions are to be agreed in principle between Merton and LBM in advance, on the basis that, IF the appeal were to be granted, they would be already agreed.

After this, our chairman, John Elvidge, then cross-examined Redrow's expert transport witness about the evidence he gave the day before.

In the afternoon, we started the "Character and Appearance" debate, with LBM's expert witness presenting his evidence.

Later, the Inspector chaired the concluding discussion on Conditions and the S106 Agreement.

Day 5 (15 December 2020) Today, Merton's expert witness for urban design and townscape matters, explained the reasons behind the Planning Committee's reasons for refusal. He was then cross-examined by Redrow's counsel. Later in the day, Redrow's expert witness presented the reasons why Redrow is appealing against Merton's refusal on these matters.

The balance between the pros and cons of Redrow's proposed architectural and urban designs and their impact on Merton's townscape and the local area are likely to be a key issues in the Inspector making her decision. 

Day 6 (16 December). The day started with Redrow's expert witness being cross-examination by Merton's advocate. Despite Merton's policy paper that says that tall buildings are "Inappropriate" at this location, much of the debate centred around whether breaching this policy is justified in order to meet housing need. There were also questions raised over the quality of the architectural design, including the criticisms raised by Merton's Design Review Panel at the pre-application stage.

In the afternoon, the witness was further cross-examined by John Elvidge, particularly about why the Design Review Panel had not been asked to reconsider Redrow's revised design, after its first "Red" assessment.

Day 7 (17 December) started with Redrow's expert witness completing his evidence. This was followed by a round-table discussion on flooding and carbon footprint. Both these concerns had been specifically raised by the Association. The rest of the day was taken up with Merton's expert witness explaining how the council developed its housing policy and planning within the framework of national and London policies and guidance.

Day 8 (18 December). The debate over the planning of homes in the borough, continued with Redrow's expert witness. The question of how Merton's plans and targets mesh in with those set for it by the GLA was considered in detail. He reviewed the timings of when various GLA plans are revised, updated, approved and reissued and considered how and when Merton's own planning should be updated to incorporate the changes that GLA's revisions cause.

Day 9 (11 January 2021). The Inquiry recommenced, after the break over the holiday period, with a review of the evidence of Merton's plan for the delivery of new homes for the next 10 years or so. The GLA's target for Merton has been to deliver 411 new homes each year. However, this is expected to be raised to a new average of 918 new homes each year, as and when the new London Plan is formally issued in 2021. Currently this revised plan is expected to be approved by the government in the next few months. Accordingly, Merton will need to ramp up its delivery at some point. The day's arguments centred around the reviewing the future "pipeline" of forthcoming developments, in order to gauge the effectiveness of Merton's plans to continue to provide new homes in the borough to meet GLA targets. It seems that whether or not Merton is deemed to have a robust plan for the future provision of new homes is likely to be an important aspect in the outcome of this inquiry.

Day 10 (12 January 2021). The day commenced with a round table discussion on when and how Merton will develop a revised plan to increase the supply of new homes, to meet the new GLA targets when they are approved and finalised. Merton's revised plan will need to mesh in with the GLA's new targets. The legal positions on whether all these various plans may be considered as still valid or "out of date" seem to be contested matters. At the moment, the GLA targets are in transition, as the new targets are not yet official but nevertheless anticipated soon. This is all to be judged with reference to the guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework

Later, the expert witnesses on town planning matters for Redrow and Merton presented their evidence and were cross-examined by the parties' advocates, including John Elvidge representing our Association. The appearance, height and massing of the proposed development were reviewed, including the concerns expressed by local people.

Day 11 (13 January 2021) This was the last day of the inquiry, with the advocates presenting their final submissions:

  • John Elvidge, our Chairman for RPWBRA. His Closing Submission may be read here.
  • Annabel Graham Paul, representing the London Borough of Merton
  • Paul Tucker QC and Constanze Bell, representing Redrow (the Appellant)

The Planning Inspector has yet to make her site inspection and, of course, prepare her conclusions and decision.

We do not yet know when this will all be concluded.

 

Previously on 7 November ...

We have now been advised by the Planning Inspectorate that the public inquiry for Redrow’s appeal against refusal of its planning application (Original Ref: 19/P2387) to build 456 flats in tower blocks up to 15 storeys high in Tesco’s car park at 265 Burlington Road will be a “virtual” inquiry to be held on-line. It is planned to start on, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 and take between 4 and 6 working days. 

If you were one of the 500+ people and organisations that made written representations to Merton Council at the time of the original planning application, which was refused by Merton’s Planning Committee, back in February 2020, then your representations will have already copied by Merton and issued to the Inspector, who be making the final decision for the appeal inquiry. 

As our Association is a "Rule 6" party to the inquiry our Proof of Evidence is here .

 

Previous Articles about this site and the proposed development:

265 Burlington Rd - Date Set for Public Inquiry Sept 20

20/P1253 - 265 Burlington Road

19/P2387 - 265 Burlington Road April 2020

Tesco Site - 265 Burlington Road April 2020

Tesco Site Development - Public Meeting

 

 

Bellway Plans to build houses on Meadowview Sports Ground

 Updated 2 December 2020 - Application 20/P3237

Bellway has now submitted its planning application, Ref 20/P3237, which can be seen on Merton's Planning Explorer.

Both our Chairman, John Elvidge, and Vice-Chairman, David Freeman have submitted letters of objection, which may be read by following these links:

Chairman's Objection to Bellway's Application 20/P3237

Vice-Chairman's Objection to Bellway's Application 20/P3237

Our MP, Stephen Hammond has also submitted an objection.

 

We urge our members to also submit objections to Merton's Planning Department, which can be done by email. The deadline is 9 December 2020

 

 

Previously ...( 24 August 2020)

We have just learned that Bellway Homes have indicated that they intend to deliver a letter to local residents on Tuesday 25th August setting out their intention to build some 90 units of accommodation on the Sports Ground in Meadowview Road, Grand Drive (Formerly the "LESSA" Sports Ground).

More details of Bellway's plans can be seen here and here .

 

Nowhere in their letter do they explain that they have owned this land since 2010, having bought it following a public inquiry, in which the Planning Inspector held that there should be permission only to build the 44 homes now on the site, and on the clear basis that the rest of the land should be retained for sporting use. Five tennis courts were also provided for the Raynes Park Tennis Club.

Nowhere in the letter do Bellway set out the Council’s planning policy for the site. The proposed policy is that “Sporting or community use of the whole site will have to be demonstrated as undeliverable before any other use can be considered”.  It is designated as Open Space. It is officially noted that “the site may have opportunities for whole site sports use. Use of the site for sports use or other uses compatible with the designated open space should be actively demonstrated prior to any alternatives being taken forward”.  

The decision letter from the Inspectorate approved the continued use of the sports field for football and rugby. The decision also makes reference to the laying out of pitches and a pavilion. The Inspector appears to have swayed by a proposal by King’s College School that they wished to use the sports field for its junior pupils.  In the event, KCS did not take up this option.

However, the decision stated that, in that case, the ground had to be made available to any other School or a Sports Club. The Residents’ Association suggested to Bellway on a number of occasions another junior school which would be interested in taking up a lease, as well as a sports club, but nothing resulted from our approaches. 

So far as we are aware, they have not attempted in any way in the past ten years to bring the ground to the attention of other schools or sports clubs.  They ought to demonstrate this very clearly before planning permission for housing should even be considered.

We would normally have called a public meeting to discuss these proposals, but, sadly, Covid 19 prevents this.

We hope that if residents are contacted by Bellway, they will say to them firmly that the site should be used for sports, and particularly for junior sports.  It is so important that this message gets through to Merton’s planners now. 

If a planning application is made, then we would urge individual residents to oppose it in the strongest terms, and hold Bellway to the conditions on which they bought the land.

And, if anyone reading this knows of a School or sporting club which needs a good sports ground of 2.8 hectares, do, please, get in touch with us urgently at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

John Elvidge, Chairman, 24th August 2020

208-212 Burlington Road (20/P1688)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A planning application (20/P1688) has been submitted to build a 7 storey block of flats at 208-212 Burlington Road. This location is currently occupied by Shannon Corner car service centre, opposite Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Local residents are rightly very concerned about the plans for this far too large and inappropriate development, The RPWBRA has submitted an objection to this planning application, which may be read here .

265 Burlington Rd - Date Set for Public Inquiry

1st September 2020 - Update

   

 

Back in 2019, Redrow Homes Limited submitted a planning application (Merton ref: 19/P2387) to build 456 new flats (in blocks between 7 and 15 stories high) on the Tesco car park site at 265 Burlington Road. 

On 13 February 2020, Merton’s Planning Applications Committee (PAC) resolved to refuse the application. The Council Chamber was packed with many residents who came to show their disapproval of the scheme on the grounds of density, height, and lack of amenities to cater for such a high influx of people. 

Our Association had already organised a public meeting last autumn, attended by over 200 local residents at which there was universal opposition to the scheme. 

As reported previously on this website, many of our members will already be aware that Redrow has now launched an appeal for its planning application. This appeal will be handled by the Planning Inspectorate and will be heard as a Public Inquiry.

The Inquiry is now scheduled to start on Tuesday, 8 December 2020, and take four days.

Our Association plans to participate in the Inquiry and has been granted "Rule 6 Status". This means we are involved in the preparations and can submit our grounds and reasoning,  urging that the appeal be refused.

For more information, click here .

Jerry Cuthbert

Chairman's Objection to Bellway's Application 20/P3237

OBJECTION TO PLANNING APPLICATION 20/P3237

LAND AT THE FORMER LESSA SPORTS FIELD GROUND, MEADOWVIEW ROAD, RAYNES PARK, SW209EB

ON BEHALF OF THE RAYNES PARK AND WEST BARNES RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

 

We are a Residents’ Association with 1800 household members in our area. 

We make this objection further to the objection submitted by us by e-mail on 29 November 2020.   

We have fought to keep the LESSA sports ground in use for sport for over 20 years. 

LESSA closed the sports ground in September 2000.  It contained two full sized cricket pitches, and an overlapping cricket pitch, four tarmac tennis courts, a pavilion, and a children’s play area, with parking for between 70 and 80 cars. 

In 2002-3 we opposed a plan by Barratt Homes Limited to build 111 apartments in 2,3, and 4 story blocks on this land.  The Council refused the application for outline planning permission on 17 October 2002, and a Planning Inspector refused the appeal entirely on 19 June 2003. We gave evidence to the Inquiry. 

The land was then sold to a company called Doram Properties Limited. That company applied for planning permission on 4 July 2008 to build 44 units of accommodation. But, importantly, the application was for the retention and re-use of 4.07 hectares of playing fields, providing two rugby/football pitches, a cricket ground and tennis courts for community use, and the erection of two sports pavilions. The Planning Applications Committee refused the application formally on 20 February 2009, and Doram appealed. 

A different Planning Inspector upheld the appeal and so granted approval on 1 October 2009. It is very important to note the Inspector fully expected that the plan should be completed as a whole, and that the permission to build the housing was dependent on the rest of the ground being made available for community use.  These requirements were set out in a section 106 Unilateral Undertaking. 

The evidence before the Inspector was that King’s College School wanted to use the ground for their juniors and that it would be made available to other community users for a minimum of 500 hours per annum. A tennis club and pavilion would be provided on part of the land at the owner’s expense.  If KCS did not want to take up this opportunity, the Council could do so itself. It was, in his words, “an enabling development”. He ruled that: “The proposal would provide high quality playing fields, tennis courts and pavilions which, unlike the original facilities, would be available for use by local people”.  

The Inspector concluded that “the community, sporting and recreational benefits arising from the proposed development significantly outweigh the loss of a relatively small part of this disused and derelict sports ground”. 

Doram sold the entire site to Bellway on 24 May 2010, on this basis. They build the 44 units of accommodation which is now called Meadowview Road, and provided tennis courts and a pavilion for the Raynes Park Tennis Club.  They also provided a small play area for the children of residents.  

However, King’s College School decided not to take up the option of a lease of the land, which was secured by the Unilateral Undertaking, and the Council did not take up its option under the same Undertaking to do so either. 

When the properties were bought privately, the new owners, we have been told, received assurances from Bellway that the large balance of the land would be retained for sport. 

Since that time, Bellway has done nothing more than maintain the hedges, and mow the grass. Latterly, the play area has been left unkempt and unusable.  

As an Association we have since asked Bellway on a number of occasions to meet sporting bodies and schools who wanted to use the land for sport. 

As early as 16 May 2014 Bellway’s Chief Executive wrote to Stephen Hammond MP that: 

“There are no further planning obligations on Bellway as owner to enter into arrangements with other organisations for the use of the Sports Fields. I can confirm that Bellway has fulfilled the obligations set down in the Planning Approval and Unilateral Undertaking and that the London Borough of Merton chose not to take up the Option of taking a lease for the Sports Fields. In the circumstances I have asked the Regional Managing Director to contact the Headmaster of a particular school to discuss the situation”. 

On 12 December 2016 the Regional Director of Bellway Homes Ltd (South London Division) wrote to us that: “we are under no further obligation to bring forward land for use as a sports field. We are fully aware of the interest in the sports field from other organisations who are willing to take over the management of the sports field. However, our intention is to seek a further release of the Sports Field Allocation for enabling development, in order to provide delivery of a high quality recreational/community use for the benefit of the local community.  It is recognised that the Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents Association is a key stakeholder to any development of the site and will be contacted directly in early 2017 to ensure that the ideas of the Residents Association can be discussed and included in any early proposals for the site”. 

We heard nothing from Bellway after that, and the Association was only made aware of their current proposals in August through a member of the Tennis Club. 

They have totally failed to consult us. They did not inform us of either of the marketing schemes they held this year, at the Council’s behest.   They submitted to the Council that “there is no interest in the site being used solely as sports fields” which was palpably untrue, as we shall show. 

We are pleased that the local plan for the site RP6 states that “Sporting or community use of the whole site will have to be demonstrated as undeliverable before any other uses can be considered”. And under “Opportunities” states that: “The site may have opportunities for whole site sports use. Use of the site for sports use or other uses compatible with the designated open space should be actively demonstrated prior to any alternatives being taken forward”. 

In the short period since early August we have identified a number of sporting associations and schools which are keen to use the ground, some of which to our knowledge have contacted Bellway already. They are all local to Merton.  Had Bellway consulted us earlier, as they promised to do, and, we assume, deliberately decided not to do, we could have identified sporting partners much earlier.  

A Cricket Academy has offered to take a lease for at least 10 years at £20,000 per annum, and to build a pavilion. It coaches 180 boys and girls each year. The offer was made to Haslams Surveyors LLP by letter dated 14 September 2020, following a letter of interest dated 7 September 2020. The Academy stated that Paragraph 113 of Bellway’s Sports Needs and Viability Report, October 2002, is untrue in its claim that: “They have therefore been contacted” since to assess the viability of the scheme.  No such contact was made. 

Also, a Cricket Club made a detailed offer, setting out that they would finance the pavilion and re-lay the cricket pitch utilising lottery funding and providing the 50% balance of the costs from their own finances and sponsors.   Paragraph 114 of the same report dismisses this offer off hand as not “a compliant viable bid” when it has not been discussed with them. 

These two cricket clubs may probably ground share. 

A junior school in Wimbledon has expressed an interest in buying the ground, for junior sports in the week, and has instructed a surveyor, and would ground share with the Cricket Academy and the Cricket Club at weekends and in the school holidays.  The School first registered an interest with the surveyors on 16 September 2020. 

Paragraph 122 of the same report is also inaccurate in stating that “There were no viable, compliant bids from commercial operators, clubs, schools or other bodies to purchase, develop and operate the site as a whole”. The footnote to that paragraph is also wrong in stating that Haslams had receive no reply as at 4.10.20 of any kind from these organisations. 

We note that Haslams decided not to place a marketing (for sale/to let) board at the site (paragraph 10.9 of their report) which would immediately have resulted in many expressions and much earlier expressions of interest. 

All these approaches need to be explored fully by Bellway and found to be “undeliverable” before they can properly lodge a planning application. 

Bellway has lodged with the application a report which claims that the offers made were either out of time, or not “viable”. Both of these claims are palpably untrue. 

Bellway should not have been allowed to lodge this application until they had shown clearly that no viable sporting offers had been received. This they have failed to do. 

THE PLANNING APPLICATIONS COMMITTEE SHOULD TURN THIS APPLICATION DOWN SINCE BELLWAY HAS NOT PROVED THAT SPORT CANNOT CONTINUE TO BE PLAYED THERE, AS THE PLANNING INSPECTOR INTENDED.    

The plan now proposes that a small part of the sports ground is used for tennis, on site play, an outdoor gym, a trim trail and jogging and walking routes. Given that Bellway similarly promised to maintain a play area for the children of residents, which has not been maintained or is open, we doubt their commitment to maintain these facilities, when they have made their further profit from the site and left. 

 

We also doubt their commitment to provide suitable flood prevention measures at the site. The existing provisions provided by them are clearly not sufficient, as surface water from the existing development leads to flooding in heavy rain pouring down the footpath from Meadowview Road to Westway and Greenway. Building on the major portion of the rest of the ground will clearly exacerbate the problem. 

The size of the proposed private maisonettes is less than the Government’s technical housing standards. Bellway are obviously trying to cram too much housing on the site to maximise their profits. 

As residents we are outraged that having bought the ground under a clear planning decision that only 44 units of housing were permitted, and on the clear basis that the rest of the ground should be used for sports,  Bellway has since refused to contemplate any sporting user for the ground, but waited 10 years until they thought that the need for more housing would result in a planning decision in their favour. 

While the community does need more housing, it also requires the continued provision of sports grounds, and housing should not be built on such grounds.   The clear need for these has been demonstrated during this pandemic. 

The Planning Applications Committee should refuse this application. 

John Elvidge

 

Chairman of the Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents’ Association

30 November 2020

Vice-Chairman's Objection to Bellway's Application 20/P3237

On Behalf of Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents Association I submit this Objection to Application 20/P3237.

We submit that the P/A is in conflict with Policy DM 01 Open Space of Merton 's Sites and Policies Plan July 2014 and Policy  CS 13 of the Core Strategy  July 2011 and also the Merton Open Space Study of 2010/11, on the grounds that no assessment has been made which shows that the application site is surplus to the sporting provision needs of the Borough of Merton. 

We submit that the proposals are also in conflict with the requirements of the National Policy Planning Framework and also Policy 7.18 of the GLA adopted London Plan, as well as the proposed site uses set out in LBM 's Consultation Local Plan October 2018 for the Former LESSA Sportsfield Site RP6. 

We submit that this application cannot be considered only by reference to the proposals submitted on this occasion but needs to take fully into consideration the history and outcome of the previous planning application, P/A 08/P1869 . 

That application was for 44 Dwelling Units, which was submitted by Doram ( who subsequently sold the land to Bellway ) in Feb 2009 . That was Refused by the Planning Application Committee (PAC) for Merton but the Appeal was Upheld in October 2009. 

The key point to note is that this application was deemed to be an ' enabling ' application taking 16 % only of the original LESSA site for residential development to enable the remainder of the site ( apart from 5 tennis courts for RPLTC ) to be used for sports’ needs. It was anticipated at the time that the field would be used by a junior school for football, cricket or rugby. This was set out in detail in the Officer’s Report for the PAC meeting held on 15 Jan 2009. The extent of the land expected to be made available was defined in a drawing submitted with the Section 106 Agreement, very late in the day - 3 June 2009. 

This drawing boldly describes the land as the SPORTS FIELD LAND. 

It is worth repeating what Anthony Lyman, the Inspector, said in his Decision letter dated 1 October 2009 , in upholding the Appeal. I quote para 15 : 

" the proposal would provide public open access to and through the site for the first time , substantially upgraded sport and recreation facilities to which an element of community use would be guaranteed and wider use of the landscaped amenity area and the children's playground . I consider that the improved recreational provision with increased public access would satisfy the requirements of PolicyL.7 ( ii ) " 

The latter was Merton’s'prevailing Policy at the time. 

It should be noted that the so-called " landscaped amenity area " was sealed off some years ago with a locked gate and there is no longer "public access" to it !  

Merton Council has a housing target currently set at a perfectly reasonable level for the delivery of new homes each year . The target is set by the GLA, whish has a draft New London Plan. This would impose on Merton an increase in the target of about 200% ! 

Even the well informed Future Merton team at the Council regard this proposed hike as undeliverable . However, the New London Plan is not  adopted  and the suggested housing targets remain under consideration. The Borough of Merton has been able to ' deliver ' a  little more than the target in recent years without the need to permit building on greenfield sites . 

Conclusion  

There are a number of problems with this application, not least the potential for flooding for the residents in the Greenway / Westway corner backing the application site. However the primary issue is, notwithstanding the need for more housing , whether 89 housing units along with the new access roadway should be permitted on the SPORTS FIELD LAND  . 

We have no doubt that in drafting his Decision Letter, Anthony Lyman not just assumed that the sportsfield would be used for sporting needs by a school or sports club ( without any time frame limit being set) but in a de facto sense , in upholding the appeal , made this CONDITIONAL. 

Ten years later on it appears that Bellway Homes have , aside from one half-hearted attempt recently, opted to ignore the Inspectors conditional approval. 

We therefore urge the Planning Applications Committee to treat these proposals with what they deserve - REFUSAL. Thank you for your time. 

David Freeman  Committee Member RP&WBRA 

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