Monthly Archives: March 2016

Our Community Planning and Design Brief for the Wilson Local Care Centre

Merton’s Clinical Commissioning Group has chosen the Wilson Hospital as the location for a new Local Care Centre serving this part of the Borough.

This will mean a major redevelopment of the historic site, first bequeathed to Mitcham by Sir Isaac Wilson in the 1920s. The architects were also responsible for the Vestry Hall and former fire station. The current hospital is a much loved local landmark and locally listed as well as being in the Cricket Green Conservation Area.

We welcome the decision on the Local Care Centre and want to see a redevelopment of the highest quality. This would respect the legacy of Sir Isaac Wilson, the sensitive location and the existing historic buildings.

To help guide the redevelopment we have produced a Community Planning & Design Brief for the Wilson Hospital site. This follows a thorough survey of the grounds and discussion at our Open Meetings.

We have identified some important features of the site which need to be retained. These include the classical frontage, open space, important trees, boundary features and historic and vernacular details.

The site is hampered by poor quality outbuildings, large areas of tarmac, poorly located parking, intrusive lighting, poorly used open space and a lack of any link to Cranmer School.

The Community Planning & Design Brief establishes 15 principles to guide the redevelopment.

These range from retaining the locally listed building to providing an off-road drop off for Cranmer School. We believe there should be no increase in the area of buildings on the site and no loss of green space overall. We are also asking that the grounds be better used for informal recreation to promote public health and that some simple interpretation is provided. We want the open aspect to Caesar’s Walk retained and are wary of early plans to develop new housing on this part of the site.

Read our Community Planning & Design Brief.

Watch out for the development plans later this year. We are promised community consultation.

Cricketers design must be better says Planning Committee

The latest development plans to demolish the Cricketers for a block of flats went to Merton Council’s Planning Applications Committee on 17 March.

This is the longest planning saga in Cricket Green with no fewer than six redevelopment plans (see image below), three planning appeals and an enormous community effort over six years to secure a quality development for this critical site.

Despite improvements we told the Committee of our concerns over the design, scale and bulk of the latest plans and their impact on critical views opposite the historic cricket ground. There has been a pub on this site since 1799 and we believe any new building should be capable of being listed within 30 years.

The developers are also trying to match the external colour to that of the Vestry Hall. This is notoriously difficult to do and even a slight clash will have an horrendous impact.

Despite Merton Council’s officers recommending approval we were delighted by the unanimous decision of councillors to defer a decision till the plans have been scrutinised by the Design Review Panel.

When the Panel looked at an earlier version of the plans it described them as “awkward” and said “the building fell short on the quality of the architecture” and a “leap of quality of thought” was needed. It gave the development a Red rating.

The latest design (bottom right of the image) was described by Councillor Linda Kirby who chairs the Planning Applications Committee as “lacking” with the proposed building giving the appearance of a “bland box”. We now look to the Design Review Panel to help secure the quality development Mitcham deserves.

Read our presentation to Merton Council Planning Applications Committee

Listen to our recording of the Planning Applications Committee debate 

Cricketers proposals Mar 2016

Brook House roof conversion – our comments on planning application

Brook House faces onto Mitcham cricket ground. It is being converted into 46 flats.

Under new Government laws this conversion doesn’t require a planning application.

It is already a massive development but the owners want more and have applied to build 9 additional flats in the roof. This requires the building to be changed and so a planning application has been submitted.

It is good news that the former office building is to be used again. It has only come out of mothballs a few times in the last few years, including playing a starring role as the headquarters of Radio Norwich in the hit film Alpha Papa.

We think the proposed roof conversion is a step too far, however. It will make the whole building top heavy and damage the Conservation Area.

The application is also riddled with errors including references to fictional roads and non-existent developments.

Read our full response – Our comments on Brook House roof conversion

See all the documents relevant to this application

To make your own comments on this application follow the instructions at Merton Council’s web site

Merton Council Scrutiny topics – our suggestions

Merton Council asks for ideas every year about the issues and services it should review to respond to local people.

So we have taken it at its word and made thirteen suggestions.

Unfortunately, we have asked for a number of these to be looked at in both 2015 and 2014 but they haven’t been and Merton Council doesn’t appear to provide feedback to people responding to its invitation.

This year we’ve asked to be informed about what is chosen and how many of the reviews are down to issues raised by the community rather than local councillors.

Our thirteen topics needing extra scrutiny are:

1.    Consultation procedures on planning applications
2.    Officer conduct at Planning Applications Committee
3.    Effectiveness of street cleaning
4.    Design Review Panel transparency
5.    Quality of consultants used by Merton Council on its own planning applications
6.    Effectiveness of Mitcham Common Conservators
7.    Contracting out procedures
8.    Tree watering (lack of)
9.    School run and travel plans
10.    Planning enforcement
11.    Vacant buildings
12.    Pedestrian priority on crossings
13.    Shopping parades

Read our full response to the request for topics for scrutiny.

here and you can feed your own suggestions in before 20 March to

Call for Merton Council action to tackle dereliction of La Sporta site

The La Sporta site opposite Mitcham Parish Church provides one of the most important gateways to the Cricket Green Conservation Area.

A maternity and child welfare centre was built around 1940 and it became a community centre in the 1990s ahead of being sold for £300,000 in 2012 to a property developer.

There is a history of anti-social uses of the building and now the whole site has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The building is derelict and run down, the land is overgrown and it is a magnet for fly tipping.

Merton Council has a number of legal powers to require the owner to restore the site and we have asked it to take action.

We would love to know more about the history of the building and your ideas for how it can best be brought back to life. Please get in touch –

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