Chairmans Blog - February 2012


The planning officers agreed to extend the consultation period for objections to the revised application for housing on the Raynes Park Playing Fields to the end of January, from the original end date of 13th January. This was in recognition of the fact that it was put in just before Christmas and the New Year break when no-one would have this as their first priority. 

We understand that there have been a very large number of individual objections to the proposals, which are a scaled down version of the original plans, but still have 53 units of accommodation with an access route off Cannon Hill Lane. At the last moment, the developers moved the proposed all weather surface from near Southway to nearer Grand Drive and Cannon Hill Lane.  This was presumably to reduce the number of objections to floodlighting, which, while not part of this outline planning application, will undoubtedly be asked for in the future. 

It is clear to us that there is virtually universal opposition among residents to the idea of any development on these actively used sports fields. The Association has written a strong letter of objection on your behalf. 

Apart from our objections to any building on these excellent open sporting facilities, we remain very concerned about who would maintain the rest of the grounds for sporting use, if the development were allowed.  The owners are suggesting that King’s College School would take this on.  We have no doubt, of course, of the ability of the School to do so, but they have given no binding commitment to our knowledge to undertake this.  We are very conscious that when the appeal on the LESSA site was being heard by the Inspector, the School was saying very strongly that they needed that ground for their junior school sports. In his report allowing the developer’s appeal, the Inspector made it absolutely clear that his decision was based on the fact that the grounds had not been used for sports for over 10 years, and that now they would be brought back into use.  He would have been strongly influenced by the evidence from KCS. However, the School has yet to sign any agreement to take over and maintain the LESSA grounds, even though some of the housing is already occupied.  The result is that there is at present no body to maintain and run the grounds for sport.  If KCS do not take up their option, the responsibility will fall back on the Council, and we all know that they have no money or inclination to undertake this.  We have very real fears that the grounds will remain derelict, while the developers laugh all the way to the bank, having made a mockery of the planning system. 

We believe that it is absolutely vital that if developers are granted permission to build on part of sports grounds in future, there should be a planning condition that they should not be able to lay a single brick before there is a contractually binding agreement covering the maintenance and use of the remaining, larger, sports grounds. 


We are very conscious that much of our work at present is focused on planning issues. The piece above is a good example of this. We have no option, as an Association, but to make these the main focus of our attentions, since for the past 15 years or so, we have been fighting a running battle to save our various sports grounds from development.  This is an issue that affects all of us, of whatever age, since one of the main reasons we chose to live in this area is because of the way in which it was laid out in the thirties with plenty of open land for recreation. This is now under real threat. 

However, we know that there are lots of other issues that are extremely important to people.  For young couples, the issue of housing and schooling will be top of the list. The nurseries are full, and primary schools cannot expand enough to take the rising numbers of children being born. It is still true that people move their children, if they are able to afford to do so, to schools in neighbouring boroughs towards the end of their primary education because they have doubts about the quality of secondary education provided in Merton. Even so, we have some 2000 pupils in local schools. At the other end of the age range, we also have a greatly increasing number of elderly people, who need home care and may need residential care. All of us will need at some time access to good medical and dental care, and quick and skilled hospital treatment. There are also a lot of pastimes that people follow locally, in music and drama, in sports, and in activities such as fishing, and wildlife. Everyone will be interested in policing, transport issues, and in parking. 

The question we are asking is how we as an Association best can represent your interests over these issues, and the myriad of others that you are particularly concerned with. 

At present, we send out a monthly Guide to each of our members, using our very loyal team of distributors and road stewards, and have done so for many years.  We put some Guides on sale in certain local shops, and give some to the libraries for display. We also now have a web site, which has received a very large number of “hits” since it was established fully last year.  We are experimenting with Facebook and Twitter, as a means of extra communication.  We now have a large influx of new residents, into the new developments that have been approved. Some, but not all of these, will be transient, but we need to make them aware of our existence. 

We hope to issue a questionnaire using all of these methods of communication to ask YOU what you would like us to do. We have been going as an Association since 1928, and although none of the Committee was around at that time (!) we need your help to keep the Association fresh, relevant, and useful right up to its centenary.  Please let us know what you are interested in, and how you would like us to represent your views. 

John Elvidge

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