Chairman's Blog - February 2015


The Application 

As expected, a planning application has been made for the complete re-development of the Rainbow Industrial Estate.  This is the large stretch of land that is accessed by a single road that starts in front of the Grand Drive entrance to Raynes Park station. 

For many years it has provided a number of useful small businesses, which provided lots of local employment, and that was its planning status. 

The site became run down, and the owners have decided not to improve it for business use, but, instead, to maximise the value of the land by applying to demolish the existing buildings, and to build no less than 229 residential units. 

The proposal is to erect 6 blocks of flats of 5-7 storeys and a terrace of 9 houses.  

There will be some limited space reserved for commercial and professional use, and a restaurant or café. 

There will be parking for only 126 cars, and 10 light goods vehicles, largely in basement areas. 

The developers say that the entrance to the road will be widened to provide a “Kiss & Ride” facility near the station entrance, to allow for dropping off and picking up passengers. 

Our Response 

This scheme has been suggested for some years, and we, as a Residents’ Association, have always supported the maintenance of the area for business use, since it provided much needed local employment.  Very unfortunately, Merton Council totally failed in its duty to uphold the wishes of local people, and has already endorsed an outline planning brief which permits housing on the site. This is doubtless because of their policy to increase even further the number of housing units in the Borough, which it has recently re-endorsed.

We opposed any housing for many good reasons. 

Aside from the need to maintain as much local employment as possible, Raynes Park has become saturated with new housing developments, largely consisting of flats,  over the last ten years. 

The former site of St. Catherine’s School’s building and playground is now entirely flats. A significant part of the former LESSA sports ground (now Meadowview Road) is a mixture of flats and houses.  A chunk of the former Royal and Sun Alliance sports ground (off Linkway) is also a development of flats and in addition there are a large number of flats built over Waitrose. 

The Council has a target to deliver 4,800 residential units over a 15 year period running from 2011 to 2026.   Out of this total the number of units aimed to be delivered in the Raynes Park sub area is set at between 500 and 600.   We calculate that more than 300 units of housing have already been developed in West Barnes and Raynes Park wards.   You can see from these figures that Raynes Park and West Barnes are well on target to meet their share of the overall housing target WITHOUT the need to build flats on the Rainbow Estate. 

What is particularly difficult about this sudden influx of new residents is that the developers have no duty to provide the infrastructure necessary to provide for their needs.  The amount of money developers have to pay to the local authority in this regard is seldom more than a small fraction of what would be needed to cover the essential supporting infrastructure, such as schools, medical facilities, nurseries, libraries, community centres and so on. 

The Site's Deficiencies for Housing 

In any event, the site itself is totally unsuitable for housing. It is landlocked and surrounded by railway embankments on three sides.  

It can be accessed only by the single road, and the volume of extra vehicular traffic created will put at real risk the thousands of pedestrians who use the station daily.  The result will be to make even worse the tailback of traffic coming down Grand Drive or off the A3, or from Coombe Lane under the railway arch.  

It is hard to see how there will be space for a meaningful Kiss and Rise scheme. One is necessary to cater for the many people who need it because of infirmity or in bad weather; and it cannot beprovided on theCoombe Lane side of the station. 

The number of car spaces proposed is entirely inadequate. The result will be that anyone living in the flats that does not have a designated space will simply park on surrounding roads. This will in turn necessitate the introduction of more paid for car parking zones.  


 We would urge all our members to oppose the proposed re-development. The substantial change of use from industrial to residential is simply unacceptable. The height and massing of the flats is inappropriate for the area. The access road cannot cope with the additional traffic, will cause major delays in the whole area, and will endanger the many pedestrians who use the station daily. 

The site should be largely maintained for business use, and a proper Kiss and Road scheme proposed within a revised scheme. 

This is further information on our website here.

John Elvidge 


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