LESSA - Meadowview Road - March 2024


Since the grant of planning permission to Bellway in September 2022 we have used all the avenues open to the Residents’ Association to appeal the decision. We immediately asked the Secretary of State to use his powers to call in the decision for review. It was not until June 2023 that he replied, declining to do so, but giving no reasons. 

We then made a formal complaint to Merton stating that there was maladministration in the conduct of that application. The Council did not respond until October 2023, and the reply did not deal with the complaint at all.   

We then applied to the Local Government Ombudsman in November 2023, asking him to investigate, and sent him all the details of the complex history of the sports ground and the reasoned objections of the residents. 

We have now received his final decision refusing to investigate the complaint. In summary he finds that there “is not enough evidence of fault in the way the Council dealt with the application. Also, we cannot achieve the outcome the complainant is seeking”.   

The decision reads: 

“In 2009, the Planning Inspector gave permission for a developer to build houses and flats on one side of a sports field. [The RA] says that this enabled a larger portion of the land to be retained for junior open field sports. 

[The RA] says that the land has always been designated in the borough plan for sporting purposes. The plan required that it was for a developer to prove that the land was not ‘deliverable’ for this purpose, and not for a sporting proposer to prove that it was. [The RA] also says that the developer refused to enter any discussions with any organisation that wished to use the land for sports. 

In June 2022, the Council refused a planning application to build on the sports field. It decided that the proposal was ‘fundamentally contrary to the provisions of the Development Plan and the NPPF and there were not considered to be any solutions to resolve the conflict’. 

Following this the developer met with the planning officer. There are no minutes from the meeting, and it was not revealed to the public or the planning committee. 

The developer put in an amended application which was approved in September 2022. 

[The RA] complains: 

·        The planning officers refused to meet with a sporting consortium after the refusal in June 2022. It says that the consortium had proposals, supported by Sport England, to use the land, including by building a sports pavilion.

·        Both planning applications were opposed by hundreds of residents.

·        No evidence was placed before the September planning committee that the sports consortium plans were not deliverable.

·        A leading member of the consortium was not allowed to speak at the committee meeting in September. 


There is no fault in the planning officers meeting with developers to seek to overcome reasons for refusal of a planning application. We would not expect such a meeting to be public. The result of the meeting is the amended application considered and approved by the planning committee in September. 

If the representative from the sports consortium believes they were refused permission to speak to the planning committee it is for them to complain. This does not cause [the RA] an injustice and it has no permission to complain for this third party. 

The representations from statutory consultees including Sports England and the objections from residents are summarised in the planning officer’s report. The planning officer lays out the relevant local and national planning policies and explains why the planning officer recommends approval. 

The Ombudsman cannot require the Council to revoke the planning permission granted in September 2022 and reconsider the application”. 

This decision is desperately disappointing and depressing. 

It means that the Residents’ Association has now, after 25 years of fighting to keep the sports field open for junior sports, exhausted all the possibilities open to it to stop the development going ahead.

John Elvidge - 12 March 2024

Join us on:


Share this page: