Tag Archives: Benedict Wharf

The future of Benedict Wharf

The long awaited plans for the future of Benedict Wharf have started to emerge.

This is the largest brownfield site in Mitcham and it will become available for development once SUEZ moves its waste facility to a new site on Beddington Lane.

We have previously welcomed the move and the plans to re-use the site for housing. Something in the order of 500-800 homes are planned.

The site has huge potential, including to strengthen links between Mitcham and Morden. It is a little known fact that Mitcham Parish Church is closer to Morden Hall Park than Merton Civic Centre but Benedict Wharf is a major psychological and physical barrier.

The plans revealed by SUEZ at a recent public exhibition are a step in the right direction but miss out on some of the key opportunities for improving access and lack the detail required for us to be confident of the proposals.

There are widespread concerns that the site might be developed for 10 storey blocks of flats looming over the area – including over London Road Playing Fields.

We have asked SUEZ to rethink and provide homes based on houses and streets. We are also keen to see a mix of developers involved, including the potential for custom-build housing and community land trusts.

It is disappointing that SUEZ is limiting community engagement to just one more public exhibition in 2019 and we have asked it to rethink its approach and not rush to a planning application in the Spring.

Read our submission on the December 2018 public consultation

View the information boards shown at the December 2018 public consultation

Let us know what you think – info@mitchamcricketgreen.org.uk

La Sporta demolition plan

The La Sporta building on Church Road has always been something of a conundrum.

After years of lying empty and falling into neglect it has struggled to find a purpose. There is a covenant preventing housing being built on the site although this didn’t prevent early discussions with Merton Council some years ago. The Council has since admitted it has lost the note of the advice it provided.

Now it is being slated for demolition.

The building itself provokes mixed views. The important of its location is, however, without doubt. At a key gateway to the Conservation Area it is in the setting of the nationally listed Mitcham Parish Church and also the old Vicarage. It can also play a part in the wider redevelopment being planned for the Benedict Wharf site when Suez moves out. This should rid us of the oversize Hallowfield Way and provide new homes and community facilities.

We are keen to uphold Merton’s planning policy protecting community uses and so have asked that the La Sporta building isn’t demolished before we know what might follow.

Read our comments here

Read what we said about Benedict Wharf

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