From waste to place – the opportunity at Benedict Wharf

In the jargon of town and country planners the noisy and smelly waste operation at Benedict Wharf is known as “bad neighbour” development.

It has become such a bad neighbour that even its owner – SUEZ – recognises there is a problem. It has announced that the site will close in around two years. SUEZ is moving its operation to an industrial estate in Sutton where it can operate around the clock without disturbing the neighbours.

Community action over many years has helped bring this about and soon the lorries, smells and noise will be a thing of the past.

In a statement SUEZ has said it wants a good legacy for Benedict Wharf and intends to secure planning permission for redevelopment of the site before selling it on. It favours a “housing-led scheme…….which accord[s] with the character of the area and the ambitions of the community.” Early community engagement is also promised.

We’ve applauded the mature way SUEZ has started these discussions and look forward to collaborating on the future plans.

It is hard to overstate the opportunity which the closure of Benedict Wharf presents. This is a huge site – more than twice the size of the recent gasworks development – which can provide not only high quality and affordable homes but also new links and connections across an area that has been out of bounds for generations. It should transform the way we move around our neighbourhood.

Did you know that Mitcham Parish Church is as close to Morden Hall Park as the Civic Centre? With good planning and design we can create new green corridors. Two ideas are to link London Road to Morden Hall Park through Benedict Wharf and Phipps Bridge, and to link Mitcham Parish Church to Ravensbury Park and the Wandle Trail across the tram line.

A mixed development providing community-led and custom and self-build housing alongside commercial housebuilders could match the new homes to Mitcham’s needs. The sad entrance to the Cricket Green Conservation Area at the roundabout outside Benedict school could be transformed. London Road Playing Fields could be reimagined as a vibrant community green space, rich in wildlife and opportunities for play and recreation. This would be helped by removing the current boundary fence and allowing open space to reach far into the new development area. The plans could also acknowledge the route of the historic Surrey Iron Railway which made Mitcham the oldest railway station in the world.

All this and more is possible.

The closure announcement coincides with the long awaited review of Merton’s Local Plan. This includes a call for development sites to meet the area’s housing and other needs for the next 20 years or more.

We are asking SUEZ to work with us to put forward joint plans to Merton Council that make the most of the site. This will mean linking the SUEZ site with adjacent land including Lambeth car pound, land owned by Merton Council and even some of TfL’s land running alongside the tram line.

Mitcham’s development has suffered from a lack of vision and poor quality building for too long. The closure of Benedict Wharf provides a major opportunity to turn the tide and match the expectations of the local community. We are unlikely to have another opportunity to build an entirely new neighbourhood for Mitcham so let’s make it one we can all be proud of.

What are your ideas? Let us know and we will feed them in.

Benedict Wharf CLG – statement from SUEZ

The Canons plans not yet ready for a green light

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.

Read our joint representations on The Canons

Call for cleaner air

Merton Council has published its Air Quality Action Plan and we have come together with Friends of Mitcham Common and Mitcham Society to provide a response.

Air pollution is an issue which respects no boundaries and requires an area wide approach.

Our own monitoring of air pollution around Lower Green West shows it in breach of the required standards. You can see the results on Clean Air Merton’s community map.

There’s a lot to welcome in Merton Council’s Action Plan, especially support for extending the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Yet, it lacks the ambition and many of the measures necessary to address the scale of the problem facing the area are missing.

Here are our proposals for what needs to happen:

  • Targets for improving air quality year on year to 2022
  • A network of air quality monitoring stations – particulates and NOx – throughout the Mitcham area, including on Mitcham Common as well as along the roads that pass through it, with data made publicly available in a timely manner
  • Zero emission or hydrogen buses on all routes through Mitcham Town Centre and its designation as a Low Emission Bus Zone
  • A ban on heavy lorries running on Church Road between Lower Green West and Benedict Wharf as part of the measures to address “hot spots”
  • Changed traffic flow at Lower Green West to remove the existing “roundabout” configuration and reconnect it to Lower Green East
  • Improved pedestrian permeability in Mitcham Town Centre and Cricket Green – including enhanced pedestrian crossings and reduced crossing times
  • A requirement in all travel plans for schools and new development to demonstrate how they will contribute to improvements in air quality, and a commitment from Merton Council to monitor and enforce these travel plans
  • Investment in a behavioural change programme to raise awareness of individual actions to improve air quality
  • Enforcement against idling cars and lorries which extends beyond any plans to act on idling outside schools
  • Community consultation over the location of a network of well-designed electric vehicle charging points in Mitcham as an alternative to the current process whereby Merton Council submits planning applications to itself ahead of any community engagement
  • Active programme of succession planting of trees and hedges throughout Mitcham to conserve and enhance tree cover, especially along major routes
  • Stronger connections between Mitcham and the Wandle Trail and open spaces, including Willow Lane Industrial Estate
  • Active promotion of Mitcham Common as a source of health and well being with relatively better air quality including:
    • Promotion of healthy walks
    • Opening up the Ecology Centre as an affordable location for hosting community-led activity promoting health and well being
    • Management and planting along the fringes to filter particulates.

Our full response is here.

Deseret House – a case of desperate design

Mitcham town centre has been a focus for significant public investment in the last couple of years.

This has generally upgraded the public spaces and set a higher standard for design and development.

It is all the more disappointing therefore to find crude plans to build an extra two floors above Deseret House, next to the former Tesco on London Road.

This development lies on the edge of the Cricket Green Conservation Area and is far too bulky for the site. It would damage the retail parade and have a negative impact on Glebe Court.

Mitcham deserves better and we’ve teamed up the Mitcham Society to spell out why we think Merton Council should give the application short shrift.

Read our views here.

Intrusive flats planned for Sparrowhawk yard

The Sparrowhawk’s are one of the most significant Mitcham families and have long associations in the area.

The former Sparrowhawk scrap metal yard lies on the edge of Cricket Green Conservation area by Beehive Bridge and across the road from Three Kings Piece.  It is a large and prominent site now subject to a planning application for 29 flats on four storeys.

We have reviewed the plans and are unimpressed by the design.

It is a greedy development using up too much of the site and highly visible from the Conservation Area and Three Kings Piece.

The prominent balconies and failure to respect the surrounding 1930s suburban housing is especially notable.

We support the site being used for housing and believe its size means that the highest quality of design can be expected along with other public benefits, including communal space and improving the local public realm.

Read our views here

Mitcham Heritage Day – Saturday 9 September 2017

10.00am to 4.30pm Saturday 9th September at Mitcham Cricket Green

Come and enjoy the heritage on your doorstep and find out more about where you live.

Just some of the things you can do for free!

  • Learn about Mary Tate Almshouses
  • Visit the bell ringing chamber in the Parish Church
  • Find out about the history of cricket in Mitcham
  • Discover the fascinating industrial history of the river Wandle
  • See an exhibition of historic postcards about Mitcham
  • Take a guided tour of the Parish Church graveyard
  • Listen to the choir at Mitcham Methodist Church
  • Visit the 14th Century arch at Cricket Green School
  • Join a guided walk around historic Cricket Green and The Canons
  • Watch cricket being played from the balcony of the historic cricket pavilion
  • Take a guided tour of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church
  • …….and much more

Refreshments available through the day at most venues.

Round the day off with a choral concert including music specially composed to celebrate Mitcham’s heritage. Full details on our leaflet (below).

Helping make Mitcham Heritage Day possible:

  • Mitcham Parish Church
  • Mitcham Cricket Club
  • Wandle Industrial Museum
  • Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
  • Cricket Green School
  • Mitcham Methodist Church
  • Merton Heritage & Local Studies Centre

To see the full itinerary Download our leaflet

 

 

 

 

 

To help with the publicity print and display our poster

Mitcham Heritage Day is participating in Heritage Open Days.

Mitcham Heritage Day  has been supported by a grant from Big Lottery Fund Celebrate England