Local developments

Bellway application to Build on LESSA Sportsground

The application by Bellway Homes to build 107 units of accommodation, including flats, on the former LESSA sports ground in Meadowview Road, off Grand Drive, was refused by the Planning Committee on 16th June.

Previously ...

Astonishingly, in view of the history of the ground, and all the representations made, the Council’s website states that it will come before the Committee with a recommendation from the Planning Officers that the scheme be approved.

The vast majority of local residents have been incensed by this application, and will wish to attend the Committee in order to demonstrate to the Committee the need to refuse the application, despite the recommendation.  When the Redrow application to build 456 flats near Tesco’s came before the Committee with a similar recommendation for development, the Committee then was persuaded by the arguments and refused that application.

We have set out the reasons why this application ought to be refused at length before in The Guide, and in previous leaflets to concerned householders.  In brief Bellway bought the sports ground, and were permitted to build the 44 houses and flats which now make up Meadowview Road, on the clear understanding that the rest of the ground would be used for junior sports. That was in 2009/10. The residents in Meadowview Road bought their properties on this basis.

Since then, Bellway has cynically refused to entertain any idea of allowing sporting use of the ground, simply fencing it off, and awaiting its opportunity to make more profit from its purchase.

Merton’s local plan for the site states that: “Sporting or community use of the whole site will have to be demonstrated as undeliverable before any other uses can be considered.”   There is a joint proposal by two local cricket clubs, and a junior school, which are very keen to use the whole ground for sports.  This proposal is fully funded, but has been dismissed out of hand by Bellway.

Sport England in its comments on 11.3.22 objected to the application in strong terms. It also stated that should the Council be minded to grant planning permission for the development, it had to be referred to the Secretary of State. The England and Wales Cricket Board, and the Rugby Football Union are similarly opposed.

The comments of Sport England can be read on the Council’s Planning Explorer, under reference number 21/P4063. This also contains the detailed objection to the application put in by our Residents’ Association. Unfortunately, the very many individual letters of objection cannot be viewed on line. Although we have repeatedly asked the Council to arrange for this.

It is not clear at the moment on what grounds the Planning Officers are recommending approval, given the huge weight of arguments for refusal.  When we know this better, which is not likely to be until just before the date of the meeting, we shall, of course, attempt to let local people know. 

John Elvidge

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