The fierce debate over the future of The Cricketers looks like it is drawing to a close.
The latest proposals to demolish the former pub next to the Vestry Hall and replace it with 11 flats were rejected by Merton’s Planning Committee following our objections and the views of the Design Review Panel.
The developers – Chatsworth Land – appealed and an Inspector has recently decided in their favour. The developers are now free to proceed with the scheme subject to some relatively minor conditions.
While the outcome is disappointing, this is a story which shows the value of standing up for the Conservation Area.
The development now granted permission is the latest in a long line and the least worst of all those put forward.
We also congratulate Merton’s councillors on the Planning Committee who held out against many of the previous proposals against the recommendations of their officers. Three previous appeals against Planning Committee decisions to refuse permission have been won thanks to councilors standing up for Mitcham against officers’ advice.
The final scheme is relatively modest by comparison to those which have come before. You can see some of the earlier proposals in the selection below – with the approved development in the bottom right.
The future of The Cricketers has been something of a litmus test for the Conservation Area. Now attention turns to the future of the Burn Bullock and Mitcham Cricket Pavilion where the very tradition of cricket being played on the green for over 330 years is at stake.
Read the appeal decision
Merton Council has a new source of funding to spend on local priorities – the Community Infrastructure Levy.
This is paid by developers to cover the wider impact of their developments on the areas in which they build. A share of this goes to local priorities and we have set out ours in response to Merton Council’s consultation.
Cricket Green Conservation Area already has spending priorities set out in the excellent Management Plan produced a few years ago.
Our green spaces and trees need more care and we need to reduce clutter from signs and bollards. We are also asking for the old fire station to be put to community use. We would like the Council to do more to tackle the traffic problems around Lower Green West and improve Hallowfield Way so it provides the gateway that the Conservation Area deserves. The shopping parade along London Road also needs urgent attention.
Read our priorities for spending the neighbourhood fund
The details of new development matter to our Conservation Area as much as the construction of new blocks of flats.
Two current proposals illustrate the point.
Locally listed Caxton House is proposing a roof extension and to have a steeper roof pitch than its neighbours. 21 Cricket Green is proposing the area’s first mansard roof, including 13 dormers. Have a look at the images below to see what is being proposed.
Both are located next to listed buildings (the old school house and the Methodist Church) and both affect important views (on entering from Church Road and across the cricket ground).
We have looked at them in light of their prominent locations and the impact they have on the special qualities of the Conservation Area. This has led us to object on the grounds that the conflict with local planning policies and damage the appearance of this special part of Mitcham.
Read our comments:
21 Cricket Green mansard roof
Caxton House ridgeline and roof extension
The impact of air pollution is rising up rapidly up the agenda and Cricket Green is not immune.
With support from Friends of the Earth we have been conducting some air quality trials in the area and the results are concerning.
We chose three locations at which to measure air quality – the busy road junction by the White Hart at Jubilee Corner; where Church Road reaches Lower Green and near the old milestone by Elm Lodge.
We set out ‘diffusion tubes’ for 20 days to measure pollution levels for nitrogen dioxide.
High levels of nitrogen dioxide are known to inflame the lining of the lung and reduce immunity to lung infections such as bronchitis. The tubes were sent off to a laboratory for analysis and gave the following results:
By White Hart 67.0µg/m3
Church Road/Lower Green West 27.1µg/m3
By Elm Lodge 41.8µg/m3
Air pollution is measured in µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre)
For the period of our trials (in August 2016) two of the sites exceeded the European legal mean annual limit for nitrogen dioxide at 40µg/m3
We cannot yet say that air pollution in Cricket Green is breaking legal limits as we ran the trials for too short a period of time. They are a snapshot and air pollution varies throughout the year as a result of the seasons, weather patterns, traffic levels and other events.
What we can say is that it isn’t looking good. While more results are needed, we think it is time to start taking action to avoid even more problems in the future. The solutions aren’t easy – traffic levels in the area are very high – but with effort they can found and as a start we think there’s merit in extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) already planned for central London to cover a much larger area.
We are keen to extend this study further, and we are supporting Mitcham Society in its own efforts to monitor pollution levels at Mitcham Fair Green. Let us know if you would like to get involved.
One of the benefits of the Lottery bid for The Canons is that the area has been given serious attention by historians, landscape architects, archaeologists and others.
A large amount of fascinating material has been produced about the historic landscape, its wildlife, the historic buildings and walls and the people who lived there.
Much of this has now been brought together in a draft of The Canons Conservation Management Plan.
This provides the results of the research and also sets out policies for guiding future conservation and development of the area.
Whether or not the Lottery bid is successful the Plan is sure to be a rich source of material for generations to come.
It will also be officially adopted as supplementary planning guidance and so carry legal weight when planning applications are decided.
Read the Conservation Management Plan and feed in any comments by 27th January.