There is genuine excitement in the air about the opportunity of over £5m investment in The Canons and its grounds with the support of the National Lottery.
We have worked with Friends of the Canons and Mitcham Society for over five years to bring these plans to fruition and were delighted by the success of Merton Council’s funding application in June.
We are looking forward to continuing our role in The Canons Partnership to support and deliver the project.
It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that we have found ourselves unable to support the planning applications needed to go ahead with the works. The detail of the plans still leaves too much at risk and we are still waiting for guarantees than financial surpluses generated from renting out office space in The Canons house and running the cafe will be reinvested in the future management and conservation of The Canons.
The plans require some damage to the listed house and walls, impacts on their setting and causes important trees to be felled. Some of this is necessary for the wider conservation benefits and the opportunity to share The Canons story with more people and put it on a financially sustainable footing. It is a difficult balance and we think more needs to be done to maximise the benefit to the local community.
We need to see more access to The Canons house and the new cafe opened up for community use in the evenings. The walled garden needs to be repaired with better quality materials and the project needs to take a much more sensitive approach to new lighting.
We are looking for the removal of eyesores – such as an empty storage container and poor floodlights – before permission to go ahead with new improvements. The wildlife impact of lining the pond needs to be better understood and there also need to be more guarantees over the impact of the building works.
The Canons project can achieve so much for Mitcham, and we want this very large injection of money into our area to achieve the maximum benefit. We stand ready to work with Merton Council to support the changes needed to secure planning permission as quickly as possible.