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