The lost paths of Mitcham Common

Mitcham Common is one of the true jewels of Cricket Green.

This large area of open space has remained undeveloped throughout the growth of London. It is managed by Conservators appointed by local authorities under Victorian legislation.

Mitcham Common is a remarkable place, defended against damage, development and the M23 by previous generations
and on the doorstep of thousands of Londoners.

It is therefore highly disturbing to learn of the impact of unannounced decision by Merton Council to halve its funding for management of Mitcham Common.

The impacts are already being felt. Mitcham Common Conservators has withdrawn all path maintenance and litter clearance from seven different parts of the Common. These include areas near
Mitcham Junction and along the railway line opposite Three Kings Piece.

Friends of Mitcham Common even found it necessary to organise a “lost paths” walk as these important recreational areas are in all but name put out of bounds to local people.

You can find out more about the areas affected here
http://mitchamcommon.org/category/all-publications/ and if you feel strongly then let Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis know (Stephen.Alambritis@merton.gov.uk). As London grows so its green spaces become more important.

Mitcham Common deserves better.

General Election 2017 – our questions to candidates

We have asked all six candidates standing for election in Mitcham and Morden a series of questions about the local area.

Q1 What is your most important priority for improving the quality of life in Cricket Green?

Q2 Do you support the Cricket Green Charter and how will you use it in your work as a Member of Parliament?

Q3 Are you committed to protecting Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area (designated by London Borough of Merton in 1969) and will you make representations on planning applications for development that fails to enhance its special qualities?

Q4 What will you do to help provide legal security for Mitcham Cricket Club and its pavilion (registered as Merton’s first asset of community value) to continue the 333 year old tradition of cricket being played on the Green?

Q5 What will you do to ensure the listed Burn Bullock is removed from the national Heritage at Risk register and other listed buildings (such as the White Hart) don’t join it?

Q6 How do you think the redevelopment of the Wilson Hospital and its grounds can best respect the historic site and provide for the needs of the local community?

Q7 What is your favourite place in or memory of Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area?

All the candidates have replied and their full, unedited, responses are in the document below.

General Election 2017 – candidate responses

Annual Review 2016 published

We published our Annual Review for 2016 at our AGM on 25th April 2017.

This captures the breadth and scope of our work throughout the year, and it is packed with information.

Highlights of 2016 include :

  • Reporting on the events we hold through the year including Community on The Green in July and Mitcham Heritage Day in September
  • Continued efforts to support Mitcham Cricket Club for example in the context of the ongoing saga of the development of the closed Burn Bullock Pub site – under the same ownership of the pavilion, and in raising funds for the Club at events throughout the year
  • Our ongoing work to support the natural environment and in paricular to protect our trees from increasing environmental pressures
  • Continued work to help protect our area from insensitive development – the amount of potential development in our area is constantly growing, and 2016 saw much activity on this topic
  • Our very significant involvement in the £5m Canons Lottery bid, with hundreds of hours of volunteer effort put in. A decision on this is coming in June 2017.
  • Proposals for items for addition to the Local List. which records significant structures across the borough

There is much more about us and our work in the Annual Review.

Get your copy of our Annual review 2016

 

Queen’s Head development plans

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The Queen’s Head public house has served Cricket Green for nearly a century and the site has been a place of refreshment since at least the mid 19th century. Prominently located opposite the historic Green and on the corner of Bramcote Avenue the building has been officially recognised as making a “positive contribution” to the Conservation Area. The pub closed in 2016 and was boarded up and sold on by Shepherd Neame.

We were pleased to be contacted at an early stage by the new owners to discuss their development plans. While some of our feedback has been taken on board we have registered an objection to the planning application that has now been submitted to Merton Council. This will involve conversion of the existing pub and construction of two new flanking buildings to create eight flats. The design is neither sympathetic enough to the existing building nor bold enough to add to the street scene. The overpowering new block of flats along Bramcote Avenue will dramatically effect the open sweep as it enters Cricket Green and damage the Conservation Area. We have offered to continue to work with the developers to improve the plans.

Read our comments Queens Head pub

queens-head-2queens-head

Protecting Mitcham’s Town Greens

Mitcham is defined as much by its green spaces as its buildings.  Once linked to the vastness of Mitcham Common they remain central to Mitcham’s story and to its future.   Mitcham’s Greens were originally put in the hands of the Mitcham Common Conservators in 1891.  Responsibility was transferred to the local authority in 1923 and they are now managed by Merton Council.  Five were registered as town greens in 1967 – Figges Marsh, Fair Green, Three Kings Piece, Cranmer Green and Cricket Green – and given high levels of protection.  This recognition provides a reassuring certainty in an area experiencing rapid development and change.

Or so it seemed.

In June 2016 Mitcham saw the open grassland and green road verges of Three Kings Piece and Cranmer Green replaced by tarmac, kerbs, bus stops and road crossings (see photos).  This happened without warning and there was no consultation.  Land which had survived undeveloped for hundreds of years was lost.  The special character of an important area of the town greens was destroyed.

cranmer-green-destruction-june-16

The damage was the talking point of our stand at the Mitcham Carnival and questions were asked as to whether Mitcham’s Greens were safe after all.

We moved quickly to raise concerns with Merton Council and seek an explanation.  The response was emphatic – Merton Council believes it has the power to tarmac the Greens and does not need to consult.  Further, Merton Council believes the protections afforded town and village greens do not apply to Mitcham’s greens and its duty to make bus stops accessible overrides other concerns.

We turned to the Open Spaces Society for advice – as the UK’s oldest conservation body it is a national source of expertise on common land and town and village greens.  With its help we have explored the complex legal position and arrived at very different conclusions to Merton Council.

three-kings-piece-bus-stop-works-june-16Over 10 years ago the House of Lords ruled that laws protecting greens applied to all greens, new and old.  This set a precedent and means Mitcham’s greens are protected in the same way as other greens.  As a result, any encroachment or development requires consent from the Secretary of State.  The fact that Merton Council has the power to undertake the works affecting Mitcham’s Greens does not override the need for it to seek this consent.  Nor does the requirement to take steps to make bus stops accessible override these protections.

We believe Merton Council has overstepped the mark.  It has damaged the Mitcham Greens without authorisation.  We are asking Merton Council to come clean and either seek permission from Central Government or undo the works and return both Cranmer Green and Three Kings Piece to their former condition.  And most important of all we are asking Merton Council to be clear about the procedures protecting Mitcham’s Greens so we can all avoid a repeat and be secure in their future.

Read our report

Open Spaces Society press release

 

Cricketers development gets go ahead – the silver lining

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

cricketers-proposals-jan-2017