Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Wimbledon Stadium

My submission to the Mayor of London's consultation:

Dear Sir,

I am writing as Wandsworth Borough Councillor for Earlsfield on behalf of my residents who have expressed concern over the planned development of the Stadium.  My ward abuts the area proposed for development and I believe will experience a greater impact as a result of the project than any part of Merton.

The prime concern surrounds transport.  I don't believe the traffic modelling that was carried out for the application was at all adequate.  Whilst it acknowledged that the surrounding roads already struggle to cope with often high volumes of traffic it did not accept that the development itself would add to the traffic burden.  In all the assumptions used only the most optimistic scenario was considered.  For example on match days it was assumed that no fans would drive to the venue and that in any case matches would not take place at peak traffic times.  This was predicated on the fact that no parking provision is proposed for fans and the assumption that surrounding areas would amend parking restrictions as a deterrent.  As such no mitigating provisions were deemed necessary.

In addition despite the assumption that all 20,000 fans would walk or take public transport to the stadium they again took the optimistic assumption that peak times would not be affected and fans would disperse widely and thereby avoid overcrowding at certain stations, roads or bus stops.  Regular users of Earlsfield Station, the closest overland station to the site, are surprised by that given the fact that peak times already causes severe overcrowding at the station.  Again as a result of optimistic assumptions no mitigation is proposed.

Locals are also aware of the flooding problems at the site and are surprised by the downgrading of the risk.  There are some design features to help deal with this but as a downgraded risk it may not be sufficient for the worst case scenario.

Finally local services.  Local schools, GP services and the local hospital will come under increased pressure after the development, most of which falls in my ward or nearby in my Borough.  Again the best case data was used to demonstrate these were not an issue and nothing is offered to help deal with it.  My residents are understandably not reassured.

As a result of the great impact this development may have on residents across the Borough boundary from Merton it was strongly felt that the Mayor of London should have the final decision in the interests of both Boroughs and London as a whole.  The previous Mayor agreed with this position and "called the plans in".  The new Mayor should take responsibility as he promised to during his election campaign so that the fears expressed above can be fairly dealt with.

I want to see the site developed and for it to enhance an otherwise shabby part of Merton.  However, the plan on offer is not one that my residents deserve.  They are not against AFC Wimbledon making a new home near to the old home of Wimbledon FC, but they do not want emotion to lead to acceptance of a new stadium at any cost.

I hope the Mayor takes this responsibility seriously so that a better plan can be drawn up for this area.


Cllr Charles A Lescott
Earlsfield Ward


  1. Just about everyone I know in Earlsfield, Tooting, Wimbledon, etc. can't wait for it to go through. Why do you write as if everyone there is in support of your views ? If anything, it's the other way round.

  2. Just about everyone I know in Earlsfield, Tooting, Wimbledon, etc. can't wait for it to go through. Why do you write as if everyone there is in support of your views ? If anything, it's the other way round.

    1. Because I represent Earlsfield and many of the people you don't know there have concerns.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Afternoon Councillor,

    Before we go on, I think John Rourke's point was why are you representing just one side of your constituents views? Wandsworth council seem to think everyone locally has an opinion against this proposal. I don't think it's just that; I do believe that this is a political point scoring game rather than just concern on behalf of the locals. For example, bringing Cray Wanderers development into the argument as an example (which was on green belt land) was a total red herring and a clear indication it was to embarrass the current Mayor. Shall we compare what new stadiums Boris Johnson allowed rather than Wimbledon? I understand that these things will happen between parties.

    I'm going to counter some of the points that maybe might clear anything up for readers

    So, no new information has come forward which hasn't already been addressed by the authorities. Therefore, if the current Mayor were to turn over the decision (against Merton's, Wandsworth's and GLA's planning committees advice, plus all the other bodies), a court case would ensue. This will cost more money for everyone, but I believe legally being turned over to Merton's original vote. I think the previous Mayor knew that but also knew he wouldn't have to deal with the fallout.

    The majority of supporters travelling to the game will be local; 11k are not going to walk to Earlsfield station every second Saturday over 20 odd weekends.

    Locals might be surprised by the downgrading of the risk of flooding, but trained environment experts aren't. As they have explained, improved drainage in the plans and water storage tanks will increase defences of 'flooding.'

    I'm sure more resident only parking will be paid for by the s106, which will increase spaces for locals in the long run, not just on match days. The new buildings could be removed permission to have parking permits, a lot of new builds have this built in. I imagine you know that already but your readers might not. Lastly, on match days I imagine local schools and businesses will profit as temp coach parking for away supporters.

    TFL have agreed on fees in the s106 to address improvements to public transport.

    Personally, we will be cycling to the stadium, so I would like Merton/Wandsworth to be lobbying for more cycle bays in the area during the s106 talks rather than throw mud at a development that has already passed once, fits the Merton plan and will go through eventually.

    There will always always be negatives in any development, but this will be a shining example of community-based club/stadium. I hope most local people will see the positives it will bring and get behind it, even if they don't at the moment, and maybe our local representatives could also fight on our behalf sometimes too? ;)

    Sorry, this was a bit longer than expected!

    1. Thanks for your interesting comments Jim. I hope I'm not misrepresenting residents views. I know there are a lot who are in favour but I'm sure they would agree that we should try to make it the best development it can be. Almost anything would be better than what is there right now but that should not mean we accept a bad plan.

      You make some very good points but I still think my submission stands and that the Mayor should make the decision as it affects both Boroughs.

      It is good to talk constructively on the plan.

    2. More cycle provision for both flats and stadium would be excellent, I've been one of several lobbying the club on this and would be delighted to see better cycle provision for residents and visitors included!

  5. I thought the 106 agreement included significant provision for transport. It strikes me as hugely unlikely many people will want to drive or will drive, any more than anyone drives to White Hart Lane, the Emirates, Stamford Bridge or any of the London stadia as they are all much easier to reach by public transport and all have little to no local parking... I think this parking issue is a red herring, though of course agree traffic management and transport issues should form part of the 106. I bow to the experts at the EA for their view of the flooding. And I do not see why Boris capricious decision to call in is lauded (when it was hugely inconsistent with his rubber stamping of Tottenham's ground and against the advice of the GLA planners (note, GLA planners, not Merton)) whereas Sadiq Khan's potential reversal of this politically motivated "might have been a mistake" unsupported decision is hailed as a huge problem by you. Seems like you may have an ulterior or partisan view of a Labour or Tory mayor.