Chairman's Blog - October 2015


The Planning Applications Committee gave approval on 17th September to the proposed development of the Rainbow Industrial Estate.  This is the site whose entrance is off Grand Drive and Approach Road, and whose only access is under a railway bridge. 

The approval was given by a narrow majority, ignoring the reasons given for rejection by many local objectors, including at the meeting a representative from this Residents’ Association, a resident of Grand Drive, and Councillors from both Raynes Park and West Barnes Wards. 

The site is still designated for light industrial and storage use, and, despite its run down appearance, provides employment for up to 200 staff at present. The proposal is to demolish all the buildings on the site, so that these businesses will need relocation.  This is a very significant change of use. The planning brief adopted by the Council, as approved by the Planning Inspector, insisted that any re-development on this site should be employment led. However, the plan proposes that only 13% of the buildings would be for employment and 87% for new housing. The number of jobs being provided would also be far less than at present.  

This alone would provide justifiable reasons for opposing the development. 

When coupled with the other problems of putting housing on the site, the arguments against are overwhelming. 

What is proposed are 224 units of accommodation, consisting of 79 one- bedroom flats, 100  two-bedroom flats, and 36 three-bedroom flats, all in six blocks of flats, 5-7 storeys high.  In addition there would be a terrace of nine town houses, four storeys high. 

Despite the Council’s target that 40% of all housing developments should be for “affordable” housing, only 15.2% of these will be. The Council has accepted the developer’s argument that the scheme would not be financially viable otherwise. 

Anyone who has been there knows that the site is landlocked, surrounded on three sides by busy railway lines on high embankments, and has only the one entrance. A grimmer place to live is hard to conceive. 

Parking will be provided only for 126 cars, the hope being that people will not need cars as the station is so near. The price of a 1 bedroom flat in Raynes Park is in excess of £200,000. Most of these flats will be bought by youngish people who can afford a mortgage, and will want to buy a car. Where are these people going to park other than in the surrounding streets, which are already subject to residents’ parking permits owing to the lack of parking provision? 

One of the complaints we have raised time and again about the planning process is that each application has to be considered, by law, “on its own merits”.  This means that the effect of this new development cannot be considered in the context of the cumulative effects of other nearby developments, in terms of traffic, schooling needs, and health provision. 

In the past ten years, new flats and houses have been built in three major developments in Grand Drive;  on the site of St Catherine’s school; on the former LESSA  sports grounds;  and on the former RSA sports ground. 

These have had a major impact on traffic. Everyone knows that traffic is at a standstill for much of the day up and down Grand Drive. This can only get worse, particularly since there will be cars coming in and out of the site, and having to stop to avoid the many people crossing on foot to get to the station.  

The money that the developers have to pay by way of Community Levy does not begin to pay for the extra school places, and health care needed. 

The Council’s approval has still to be referred to the Mayor of London for any direction, and we hope that he will see fit to reject it. 


The second linked application considered by the Planning Committee and also approved was for the provision of a “Kiss and Ride” scheme at Raynes Park station to enable cars to drop off and pick up passengers. The scheme has not yet been fully worked up, and, indeed we understand that much of the land needed for the scheme is owned by Network Rail and not by the developers. Some six temporary stopping places are being proposed. 

The scheme envisages a widening of the entrance, and a mini roundabout for turning, with signals to control the use of traffic in and out of the site. 

We do welcome this proposal, which is long overdue, and cannot be provided on the Coombe Lane side of the station. 

We also welcome the decision that the use of the major Rainbow development is conditional on the actual provision of this set down and pick up scheme. 


To add to the local traffic standstill, the Council has issued an order so that track repair work can take place at West Barnes level crossing. They are closing a length of West Barnes Lane between its junctions with Burlington Road and Linkway. Traffic diversions will be in operation. The order came into force on 21st September and will remain in force for three weeks, even though the work should be completed over four unspecified but consecutive nights between 11.30 pm and 5.30 am. 


John Elvidge

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