Melrose School makes an important educational and community contribution to the area.
It is strategically located in wooded grounds between Church Road and London Road Playing Fields.
Merton Council decided in August to expand the school and provide for children of primary school age.
We have reviewed the development plans for new classrooms, a hall, new car park and other changes. These have a direct impact on that part of the school grounds which is in Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and our fundamental concern is that a significant proportion of the remaining open space on the site is to be developed.
This will result in felling significant trees without any details as to how they will be replaced. Given the development is put forward by Merton Council and it will result in trees being felled that are the responsibility of Merton Council we are particularly concerned that no assessment of its heritage impact has been provided despite this being a requirement for developments in the Conservation Area.
Merton Council’s Design Review Panel only gave the plans an AMBER rating.
It recommended a two-storey option was considered “in order to maintain more open space and improve the general site layout. This also may take pressure off tree loss.” We agree. It is also perverse that despite this loss of trees the school is planning to include a new “Woodland teaching area”. It is a contradiction in terms to create a woodland teaching area on a site where the quality and number of trees is being reduced by a local authority which has declared a Climate Emergency.
We recognise the need to expand the school. We believe it can be achieved in a less damaging way with a better design that avoids extensive tree felling and causes less harm to the Conservation Area.
You can read our full submission Melrose School development
Merton Council is one of hundreds of public bodies that have now declared a Climate Emergency.
We commend its cross party declaration back in July 2019 and the commitment to producing a Climate Action Plan.
Cricket Green’s role in helping tackle the Climate Emergency was an issue raised during our own local discussions in producing the Cricket Green Charter. We have now developed this thinking into a submission to Merton Council.
We believe there is much that can be done that is already in the gift of Merton Council to deliver.
This includes much stronger planning policies, action to tackle excess parking and idling traffic, better walking routes and a major programme for planting new trees, hedges and shrubs throughout the area. Cricket Green’s rich network of green spaces provide important carbon sinks that could perform even better if they were managed properly in ways that reduce mowing and encourage wild areas. Merton Council and its contractors should also be using zero emission vehicles and equipment. Zero emission buses should also be the norm, starting with all routes running through Fair Green.
In addressing the Climate Emergency we urge Merton Council also to ensure any measures respect the historic environment of Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and its environs. We see a close alignment between measures for tackling the Climate Emergency and those that protect the historic and natural environment. It is imperative to securing continuing wide public support for climate action that this is not seen to cause harm to other aspects of the environment which local people care about.
Read our submission on Merton’s Climate Action Plan Tackling the Climate Emergency – Dec 19