Chairman's Blog - March 2020


We are delighted to tell you that the application by Redrow to build 456 flats in tower blocks up to 15 stories high was REFUSED by Merton Planning Committee on 13th February. 

The proposal was to build these on the Tesco Extra Car Park site, and at 265 Burlington Road. The refusal was despite the recommendation of the Planning Officer that the scheme should be approved. The decision was by a majority vote of the Committee and after a debate of 90 minutes. 

The Council Chamber was packed with some 150 residents who all opposed the scheme. The Residents’ Association had urgently hand delivered notice of the meeting to 600 of the nearest properties.  

Three individual objectors spoke in opposition for 3 minutes each, as did three of our Councillors, two from the West Barnes Ward, and one from the Raynes Park Ward. The representative from Redrow was allowed 9 minutes to reply. 

The Residents’ Association had also e-mailed all the members of the Committee our extensive and detailed planning objections, -as set out in the February edition of The Guide - in advance of the meeting.  These were picked up by the various speakers in opposition. 

Grounds of Refusal

The grounds of the refusal were on strict planning criteria and cited the various sections of Merton’s design policies, principally the excessive massing and an imbalance in the housing mix. The proposed accommodation was mainly in one and two- bedroom apartments, whereas Merton’s housing needs were for up to a third of three- bedroom units for families in new developments. 

Much of the debate centred on concerns that the proposed development was too high, being in tower blocks 7 to 15 stories tall, and that this was totally out of keeping with the suburban housing around it. Such tall buildings should only be placed in town centres. 

The Design Review Panel

This Panel, (which is an independent body mostly composed of architects and town planners who provide advice and comments on planning  applications to the Council} rejected the design at the pre-application stage, on grounds of height, design, and density. The design would create wind tunnels, and there was a lack of play space and greenery. .We understand some changes to the design were made but that the full application (as presented to the Planning Applications Committee) was NOT referred back to the Panel . We wonder why particularly in view of the adverse comments made by the Panel about the Pre- application proposals! 

Public transport from the area was inadequate, and only 220 car parking spaces were provided. Burlington Road was already at a standstill for much of the day, given the proximity of the West Barnes level crossing. This volume of new cars would have meant the introduction of CPZ’s in the surrounding streets. The proposals should have included the widening of West Barnes Lane for pedestrians and traffic. 

The money provided for schools, and medical services, was totally inadequate for the number of new residents proposed, particularly given that 40% of the flats were designated as “affordable” accommodation. 

The proposals were contrary to the recently adopted climate change policy of the Council. We calculated that the offset needed to make them carbon neutral would have meant planting a million new trees! 

There was much relief on the night at the decision, but it is still open to Redrow to appeal it to the Planning Inspectorate. If they do, then, of course, we will oppose it vigorously. 

We have always stated that we are not opposed to housing on this site, given the housing needs of Merton.  We are not opposed to smaller flatted developments there up to 4 or 5 stories in a better design. 

We told Redrow 18 months ago that this is what they should be proposing, and it is a great pity that they did not listen then. We hope that they will not waste further time in appealing, but instead talk to the local residents, and discuss what is acceptable on this site. 

Ideally, we would hope that the site, including the Tesco store, should be developed, with a new store being incorporated into the housing design. This should include greenery and play facilities, and more provision for local schools as well facilities for say a new GP Surgery. 

John Elvidge

Join us on:


Share this page: