Chairman's Blog - September 2010


We have had two important responses from the Council about the planning conditions on the Lessa site, one to me, and one to Stephen Hammond MP, who is taking a close interest in the issue.

Residents will remember that the Inspector granted planning permission for housing on condition that the rest of the ground was retained as a sports field. At the time King's College School, Wimbledon, were proposing to take a lease on the ground for their junior pupils, and would have built two pavilions, re­instated the playing surfaces, and maintained them properly. The Residents' Tennis Club would have been provided by the developers with new tennis courts and changing facilities.

The land was sold on by the owners to whom planning permission was granted, Doram, and it is now owned by Bellway Homes. Notices inform us that demolition of the existing buildings is imminent. They are in touch with the Council about their obligations under the conditions.

We, as a Residents' Association, fought long and hard to obtain the degree of protection that we have at present. We are trying to set up a meeting with Bellway Homes urgently to review the whole situation, and to ask them their intentions.

There are other planning conditions that they have to meet before they can even start any preparatory construction work.

The conditions are imposed in part through so called Unilateral Undertakings given by the developers. We have established through our own experts that the undertakings given by Doram, which form the basis of the Inspector's decision, are binding on Bellway Homes as their successor in title. They "run with the land".

The letters from the Council show that the Council officers consider the Undertakings to be binding on the new owners. However, the difficulty is that KCS may not after all want to use the site, and, we understand, have, or are in the process of taking a lease instead on the All England ground bounded by Elm Walk, Cannon Hill Lane, Southway, and Grand Drive.

We are determined to do all we can to ensure that the developers are not allowed even to start development until there are clear and binding commitments on them to ensure the building of the sports pavilions, the play ground, the 500 hours a year community use, and the re-instatement and maintenance in perpetuity of the ground. The worst scenario of all is to allow the buildings to go up, for the developers then to take their profit and withdraw, and for the ground to be left unkempt and unusable.


The local Council exists to take local decisions in the interests of local residents. We are well served by the Councillors for the four wards that the Association represents who, from whatever party, spend a great deal of time helping us. However, getting decisions out of the Council as a whole seems to take forever. I give you three examples from Cannon Hill Common.

The pavilion there burnt down years ago now, and the Council has pocketed the insurance proceeds. Endless schemes have been mooted and considered, but no decisions yet taken, to my knowledge, on what, if anything is to replace it. I said in the Guide two years or more ago that it should be replaced, with a couple of flats above for park keepers, who could provide a degree of security, and also monitor the fishing on the Lake. There should also be a couple of toilets for the public. Maybe, the idea is too expensive, but it deserves a decision.

I have also suggested that cars be banned from coming onto the Common by the simple process of putting up a barrier at the road entrance. An exception could be made for vehicles with disabled stickers. Nothing has happened about this either.

Finally, there were proposals to set up a fishing club on the Lake, about which we, as the local Residents' Association, were angry not to be consulted. Nevertheless the decision was made, and the Council officers were due to take the necessary steps to step one up. Nothing has happened since, as far as I am aware.

Now that we have Council Cabinet members who are paid substantial sums of public money, and Council officers who are paid on the same level as members of the real Cabinet, can we please have a degree more urgency and professionalism?


John Elvidge

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