Chairman's Blog - October '21


Every few years Merton has to update its local plan.  It’s an important document which guides what can be built and where.  Jerry Cuthbert has made detailed responses on behalf of our residents, of which more may be read  here . 

One of the most important things we have to protect is our open green spaces. We are lucky to have so many of them, and the highest protection we have against their being built over is the designation of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). Prince George’s Playing Fields, which was such a godsend for people during the lockdowns, is protected in this way. 

MOL is the London equivalent of the green belt and can only be developed in very exceptional circumstances.  However, part of the Fields was developed to build what is now the David Lloyd Centre under an exception relating to sporting use, and there were plans at one time to develop the rest of the Fields as a training centre for Wimbledon Football Club. 

We always have to be vigilant to prevent further such suggestions, or else we will lose the open aspect and the right to public access, which the MOL designation aims to protect. That is why we have supported the Residents’ Associations around Wimbledon Park in their opposition to the plans by the All England Lawn Tennis Club to build a large show court and other buildings on the land they have bought from the Golf Club. This land is also MOL and has the added protection of a covenant against building which the Council imposed when it sold the freehold to the AELTC in 1993. 

We fear that if the Council lifts this covenant and allows the plans of the AELTC to go ahead, it could do the same with Prince George’s.   It would set a really serious precedent. 

Prince George’s is also protected by planning conditions imposed by the Council which provides that only 14 sales and 14 other events can be held there each year, and that cars are only permitted to use the Bushey Road and not the Grand Drive entrance.  This is to ensure that residents can use the Fields for general recreation for the large part of the time.

We were concerned earlier this year that cars were being improperly allowed to use the Grand Drive entrance, causing major traffic chaos, and also that advertising hoarding indicated that the permitted number would be greatly exceeded. 

We made repeated requests to the Council to enforce the conditions strictly.  Despite having no written response from the Council, it does appear though that Council officers have now spoken to the operators of the land to remind them of their responsibilities, and that they will limit the number of sales and other events they hold this year.  This is encouraging news. 

We were also successful, with the great help of individual residents, in defeating the application for a public alcohol licence at Raynes Park Vale Football Club, which is also situated on Prince George’s. 

John Elvidge, Chairman

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