Chairman's Blog, January 2012


Members will recall that these playing fields are owned by the All England Club, are actively used for sport, and are bounded by houses in Elm Walk, Southway, Cannon Hill Lane, and Southway. The Club proposed last year to build housing on a large part of the ground, and a public meeting was called at the St John Fisher School in Grand Drive, which was attended by some 200 angry local residents.  Since then the planning application has been held back by the owners and their consultants, PCL planning, while they decided what to do.

They have now come back with a revised, smaller, proposal and put the revised proposals on display in the School on 7th December. Unfortunately, the display was not well advertised by PCL, and only a handful of people turned up, but these included members of the Association and local councilllors.  Having seen the proposals, we feel sure that local people will still want to oppose any development completely. We will make sure that this reasoned opposition is made clear to the planning committee through individual letters, petitions, and by calling another local meeting if necessary.

It is extremely disappointing to note that the planning consultants have clearly been having detailed discussions over the proposals with the Council’s planning officers. We have complained many times that the Council staff are paid by us and owe their first loyalty to us. They should not be suggesting ways in which a development on a Greenfield site might be made acceptable on planning grounds. Any developer should simply be told that no discussions can be entered into, since the fields are not zoned for any kind of built up development under the borough plan, and under the report recently produced on the local needs for continued use of sports grounds. Under the Localism Bill (whatever happened to that?) planning departments were supposed to consult widely with local residents well in advance of any planning application being lodged. This has not happened in this case, and there have been no such discussions.  We will be taking up this issue with other residents’ associations, and local councillors, to force the Council and its officers to fulfill their requirement to consult with us, and not simply to ask our views once an application has been lodged, and when an amber light has already been given to it.

We understand that a planning application is due to lodged shortly, under which 54 units of housing are proposed. These include 2 blocks of flats. The developers have agreed that 25% of these should be “affordable” but the Council is pressing for more, probably 30%.  The planning committee is supposed to be exercising quasi-judicial powers, and to be impartial, but it is hard to see how this can be so when the housing section of the Council is already laying down what would be acceptable in terms of the social mix of housing stock provided.

There would be housing of 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms, on a development site of 1.2 ha. There would be parking on site of 2 cars per unit, i.e. a maximum of 108 extra cars on our already congested roads.  Access will still be off a bend near the mini roundabout in Cannon Hill Lane, which is a dangerous entrance and exit with limited sightlines.

The Fields suffer from drainage problems, both from rain falling on the ground, but also from that which comes down from Cannon Hill Common, where the Council has for years failed in its statutory duty to clear the drainage ditches. The Environment Agency is proposing drainage ditches on the boundaries of Fields on three sides ( i.e. all except Elm Walk), which will run under gravity into two open pools, which will then retain it in a “brake” system until the brooks can cope with taking away the volume of flood water. They propose to create an all weather pitch between Southway and Grand Drive, but for this to be floodlit at a level to be agreed. Local residents are bound to have strong objections to such proposals. 

They expect the remaining ground to be maintained by King’s College School. However, there are no guarantees of this, given the reluctance of KCS so far to fulfill the promises they made to use the remaining sports ground on the LESSA site for their junior school. 


I hope to discuss these in a future comment at some length. All I want to say at the moment is that if the Council is currently consulting you and other residents in your road, it is VITAL to give them your views, either for or against, so that they can be taken into account. You also need to suggest ways, if there are such controls, as to how they can be improved, e.g. by the use of time limits that only exclude commuters and not local people and their guests. 


We are told that Transport for London is increasing the number of trains on the District Line from Wimbledon by 12% between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm. This is much to be welcomed, having spent many hours waiting for trains at Earls Court which never come.  But, in my view, this does not go far enough.  Why is the improvement to stop at 10 pm? I recently changed at Earls Court at 11 pm, coming from central London, and waited 20 minutes in the cold for a train to Wimbledon, while no less than 4 trains came in bound for Richmond and 2 for Ealing. Given that the Wimbledon branch has trains that go both to central London, and to Paddington, I find this hard to fathom.


It only remains for us to wish all members a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. It should be a memorable one with both the Golden Jubilee and the Olympics.


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