Chairman's Blog - July 2021

Merton’s Licensing Committee held a 2 hour hearing on 17th June to determine the application to have a pub alcohol licence at the Raynes Park Vale Football Club. It heard evidence from the applicant, Justin Whitehead, and from a number of residents who strongly opposed the application. These included Mary-Jane Jeanes on behalf of the Friends of Cannon Hill Common and me, on behalf of our RPWBRA members. 

This Association was pleased to assist in the amazing campaign to oppose the granting of the application for a public alcohol licence which would have disrupted the lives of so many residents living near the Raynes Park Vale Football Club. The club of course already has a perfectly adequate licence for its own events and we wish it well in its sporting endeavours. 

As Chair of the Residents’ Association (which has no political party affiliations and seeks to support all residents) I was pleased to speak in your support at the council licensing sub-committee meeting on 17th June.

There were a very large number of residents who wrote to oppose the licence, far more than those who supported it.

I was impressed by the imaginative campaign conducted by residents and by their appointment of such an accomplished barrister. 

The Committee was due to give its decision within 5 days.  Our case was that our Association has members in all the roads that will be affected badly by this application The site is totally unsuitable for what would be in effect a public house.  It is in the middle of Prince George’s Playing Fields, which have the protected status of Metropolitan Open Land and where building is only permitted for sporting purposes.

The Fields are also subject to controls imposed by Merton Council in 2009 restricting the use of commercial activities to 28 occasions in a calendar year, which number is always taken up on the major part of the Fields, with car boot sales, antiques fairs, and a circus, and other events.

The site is some 300 metres from Grand Drive, which has the only vehicular access, and there is no lighting at all along the track to the Football Clubhouse.  While the Fields are used for recreation in the daytime, they are deserted during the house of darkness. Nor have the pedestrian routes to the site from Whatley Avenue and Meadow Close got any kind of lighting.

The site has no police patrols. There is limited parking. While the site is isolated geographically, it is on high ground, and noise and light pollution would be audible and visible over a very large area, including in particular in Berrylands, Cannon Close, Grand Drive, Meadow Close and Parkway.

The Clubhouse has a current alcohol licence which has major and detailed controls to protect local residents from noise pollution and unruly and antisocial behaviour.  Noise must be contained within the clubhouse building, and stewards appointed.   Alcohol can only be served to members and their guests, and not to the public at large.

The present proposals do not include the building of any new premises.  Instead decking is being built, and tables and chairs provided outside, which would carry noise over a very wide area.  It had been proposed that music of various kinds and films would be shown on the decking during the day and the evening. This was amended at the hearing to limit it to inside the Clubhouse, but even this would be audible for many hundreds of yards. 

An Artisans Market has grown up on both days at weekends, with a number of market stalls. The number of events being held here is already in excess of the numbers permitted by the Council’s by-law limiting events to 28 days a year. 

The proposals are the provision of alcohol to the public for very extensive periods of time, from mid-morning to very late at night, and on a 365 days basis.  

This inevitably will result in huge public disturbances of all kinds, and the noisy coming and going of cars at all hours. Cars used to be prevented from coming onto the site at night and when football was not being played, to prevent antisocial behaviour including the torching of cars. Children play on the Fields, and in the Lycee grounds opposite, and might have been exposed to intoxicated behaviour.

We urged the Committee to reject the scheme in its entirety.

The RPWBRA was therefore delighted to receive the recent news that the Licencing Committee refused the application.

John Elvidge - Chairman


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