Tag Archives: MUGA

We are still waiting for ward councillors to commit to protect Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area

We have been forced to write for a third time to our three ward councillors asking them to formally commit to protecting the Cricket Green Conservation Area. Our councillors have failed make this vitally important commitment despite our request for it in two earlier open letters.

We have published all our previous correspondence.

Below is a copy of our latest letter.

Dear Councillors

It is over seven weeks since my letter of 3 January asking you to commit to protecting Cricket Green Conservation Area following the decision to grant consent for two floodlit sports pitches in the Canons’ grounds. We have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgement or a reply. Your letter in response to our original request singularly failed to address the issues we raised. This correspondence is on our website.

We have asked you to commit yourselves publicly to protection of Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and to resisting all development that fails to enhance its special qualities. We have also asked you to let us know what you are doing to ensure (a) floodlights are not on till 9.45pm seven days a week and (b) local people will be guaranteed access to the new facilities at affordable rates. Both of these issues are determined by Merton Council.

Are we to understand that you do not believe a response is necessary on any of these points? If so then we can only conclude that you do not wish to protect the Conservation Area or support the Cricket Green Charter.

We look forward to your reply within a fortnight.

Yours sincerely

John Strover
Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage


Winter 2014 Bulletin published

We’ve published our latest Bulletin, which is now being distributed to homes around the Cricket Green area by our volunteers.

In this issue you can learn more about our exciting Heritage Lottery Funded project to clean the horse trough at Cricket Green and move it back from the kerb into a safer position. The work to remove the horse trough will take place over the coming week, so watch out for it happening as you pass by.

Also in this issue there are articles on:

  • our successes in adding to the local list – protecting local structures
  • the shock development of a floodlit sports pitch on the Canons area – and yes, we are STILL waiting for an adequate response from our councillors on why they have not stood up for Cricket Green
  • Action we are taking to secure the future of the fire station on Cricket Green once the London Fire Brigade move to a new fire station
  • And much more

MCGC&H Bulletin Winter 2014

Winter 2014 Bulletin

Cricket Green Conservation Area – Councillors’ response and our reply

Our correspondence with the three Cricket Green Ward Councillors following the council giving itself planning permission for two multi use games areas at the Canons, in the heart of the Cricket Green Conservation Area continues.

We have already published our initial open letter to ward Councillors. This received a response which, we are disappointed to say, failed to address our points. So we have sent a follow up letter.

Below you can read the Councillors response to our original letter, and our follow up letter. We hope this time to get a more encouraging reply.

Open letter to Cricket Green Councillors 3 January 2014

Dear Cricket Green Councillors

Thank you for your response to our letter following the grant of consent for the two floodlit sports pitches in the grounds of the Canons at the heart of the Conservation Area.

Unfortunately this does not allay our concerns and does not respond to the specific issues we raised.

We are well aware of the planning framework for Cricket Green and the details of this application. They did not need to be repeated at length and your citing of the details in terms which are very much from a planning perspective does not address the key questions we posed in our letter. We are therefore asking you once again, and very specifically, to address the issues we raise.

It is your role as councillors to exercise judgement based on relative priorities when faced with planning applications. If you valued the Conservation Area then you could all have registered objections at the planning committee. You could also have sought appropriate planning conditions which can be applied as readily to applications made by the Council as to those from any other developer.

This application was recognised as being in conflict with planning policies for the area and could have readily been refused. It is not unusual for officer’s recommendations to be overturned, as with the Fair Green canopy and a previous application to demolish the Cricketers (in both these cases we have welcomed your support).

We are interested in the new information provided in your letter about the detail of the Sports Development Plan. Notably this was not available during consideration of the planning application, and was not therefore able to be considered as part of the application. Disappointingly it confirms an exclusive focus on football but otherwise adds nothing new. There is no guarantee that the facilities will be affordable enough to implement the Sports Development Plan and no reason why these needs could not be met on neighbouring floodlit facilities – such as Cranmer School and the KNK stadium – and by a more sensitive redevelopment of the former tennis courts without floodlights.

In our earlier letter we asked specifically for your support on two issues to mitigate the impact of the MUGA – ensuring the facilities are affordable to local people and reducing the period of floodlighting. You did not respond specifically on either point. Both matters are still in the gift of the Council and would be positively affected by your advocacy. We ask that you confirm that you are making representations on these issues and to keep us informed.

We are disappointed by the tone of your statement that you “will continue to deal with all planning proposals on their merits and speak out when necessary”. This is an equivocal turn of phrase used widely by professional planners and does not inspire confidence in your commitment to Cricket Green Conservation Area. It was clearly necessary to “speak out” on this occasion, and you all singularly failed to do so.

We ask you once again to re-commit yourselves publicly to protection of Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and to resisting all development that fails to enhance its special qualities.

Without such a public commitment we fear we will lose any confidence in your roles as ward councillors representing Cricket Green and its Conservation Area.

We look forward to your reply and will publish this correspondence and make it available on our website.

Yours sincerely

 John Strover, Chair, Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage

Response to our open letter of 17 December:


You have asked us to respond to your open letter expressing your concern about the recently approved application for the conversion of 2 existing tarmacadan tennis courts in the Canons into 2 multi use games areas with 6 x 6m high floodlighting masts, 5m high weld-mesh fencing to the perimeter and a net roof above. You say you are “shocked and disappointed” by the decision made by the Planning Application Committee meeting on the 12th December.

Before responding to the matters you raise in your letter it is important to remind you of the Town Planning principles which are relevant to all Planning decisions. These are set out below:

All Planning Applications should be determined having regard to existing, up to date Local Plans, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

In Merton the Development Plan comprises

• The London Plan: Consolidated with Alterations since 2004 (February 2008)
• The Unitary Development Plan (adopted October 2003) excluding those policies that were not saved in September 2007, following scrutiny by the Government Office for London.
• The LDF Core Planning Strategy adopted in July 2011
• The South London Waste Plan 2011
• The Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan adopted in 2013
• Where appropriate, any other adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance

After a Public Inquiry in January 2014 the Sites and Policies Plan and Policies Map will replace the UDP 2003.

In determining applications regard should also be had to Section 16 (2) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (1990 Act), regarding applications for Listed Building Consent which places a statutory duty on the Council as local planning authority to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

With regard to Conservation Areas, Section 72(1) of the 1990 Act provides that “special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance” of the conservation area when determining applications in those areas.

In addition the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out Government Policy on planning matters in England and Wales. All local plans should be in conformity with national policy.

In your letter you raise concerns that the development may have a detrimental effect upon the Conservation Area, that the use of floodlights would be intrusive and that the Multi Use Games Area would not provide for local people.

All of these matters were considered in the report to Committee including, in particular, the potential for the development to affect the surrounding area, including any possible effect upon the resident Bat population. As you will be aware the Report made it clear that Natural England does not object to the proposed development in respect of the protection of bats. On the basis of the information available, their advice is that the proposed development is not likely to affect bats through damage or destruction of a foraging area for a maternity roost of bats. They are satisfied that the proposed mitigation is broadly in accordance with the requirements of the Bat mitigation guidelines and should maintain the population identified in the survey report. All works should proceed in accordance with the approved mitigation strategy, to maintain lighting curfews and habitat management measures.

The proposal would provide new and improved sports facilities meeting a recognized need, would enhance biodiversity in the area and by virtue of appropriate mitigation measures would not affect the protection of bats in the area. It is acknowledged that the proposals would have had some impact on the conservation area; however, the key new feature, namely the floodlighting columns being reduced in height will reduce this risk. The development when considered against the backdrop of the various buildings that make up the Cannons cluster of sports facilities will be largely unseen from the listed buildings and other structures in the Canons. It was considered that the character and appearance of the Conservation Area would be preserved and that on balance the potential benefits would outweigh any visual impact. The proposal was considered acceptable and in accordance with the London Plan (2011), The Council’s Core Strategy (2011) and the Council’s Adopted Unitary Development Plan (2003).

The Application was approved, subject to 7 Conditions as follows

1. A.1 Commencement of development within 3 years
2. A.7 Approved Plans
3. B.3 Materials as Specified
4. D.10 External Lighting.
5. Non-Standard. The mitigation measures shown on drawing no. 111-0701-006 Rev A shall be carried out prior to commencement of development hereby approved and shall be retained thereafter.
Reason: To protect the biodiversity and local wildlife in the area and to comply with policies CS13 in the Merton LDF Core Planning Strategy (2011) and 7.19 in the London Plan (2011).
6. Non Standard The use of the floodlighting shall cease by 9.45pm each day and shall not be used at all during the months of May, June, July and August
Reason: To protect the biodiversity and local wildlife in the area, to protect the amenities of neighboring occupiers and to comply with policies PE.2 in The Council’s Unitary Development Plan, CS13 in the Council’s Core Strategy 2011 and 7.19 in the London Plan.
7. Non Standard Prior to first use, a monitoring report setting out the mitigation methods as detailed in the Bat Mitigation Plan 2013 shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.
Reason: To protect the biodiversity and local wildlife in the area and to comply with policies CS13 in the Merton LDF Core Planning Strategy (2011) and 7.19 in the London Plan (2011

The mitigation measures (all of which must be complete before the MUGA is ready for use) referred to above will include:

• A relaxed mowing regime in respect of the 301 sq m of land within the Green Corridor to the east of the site;
• 250 assorted new native trees to be planted adjacent to the Green Corridor;
• The remaining Copse shall be managed in perpetuity for nature conservation;
• The fence around the MUGA shall be 4.5 m in height except at the Bowling Green where it will be 5 m high;
• The lighting columns shall be only 6m high;
• Box luminaries shall be fitted to the lighting columns, fitted with back plates as necessary, to prevent light spillage outside the MUGA;
• A lighting curfew shall be maintained between May and August;
• Lights shall be extinguished in all months after 21.30 hours;
• A monitoring report ensuring that all mitigation measures are effective shall be carried out before any pitches can be used.

In respect of the MUGA you should be aware that the Sports development Plan includes the following: To provide opportunities for adults and young children from all backgrounds to enjoy football in a safe, comfortable and happy environment; and to ensure children of all ages and backgrounds are able to develop social skills, ball skills and confidence. This will be achieved by:

• Promoting playing opportunities for schools – there are 7 local schools with 1800 children in the catchment area
• Agreeing a training plan for the MUGA with the Little League
• Developing adult 5-a-side football
• Developing women’s 5-a-side football
• Developing links with the very young playing in the sports hall to Little League
• Developing and retaining under12 and under16 disability teams

Taken together with all the approved planning conditions the MUGA is acceptable in respect of all appropriate planning matters relating to the provision of sports pitches, the preservation of protected species, the enhancement of biodiversity and the preservation of the Conservation Area.

All proposals for development within the Conservation Area (or anywhere else) will be determined having regard to the principles in the Council’s Local Development Plan. We will continue to deal with all planning proposals on their merits and speak out when necessary.

Cllr Ian Munn, Cllr Judy Saunders, Cllr Russell Makin

Open letter to Cricket Green Councillors seeking a new commitment to the Conservation Area

Merton Council’s plans for floodlit sports pitches in the grounds of the Canons at the heart of Cricket Green Conservation Area were given planning permission on 12 December.

This monstrous development rides a coach and horses through local planning policies intended to protect the Conservation Area.

None of our three ward councillors (Judy Saunders, Russell Makin and Ian Munn) spoke against the scheme and two publicly supported it.

We have therefore asked them to re-commit publicly to protection of the Conservation Area and to resist all development that damages its special qualities.  Our open letter is below.  We await the response.


17 December 2013

Dear Cricket Green Ward Councillor

Planning application for the floodlit MUGA, Canons

We are writing this open letter to you as Cricket Green councillors regarding the planning application for floodlit MUGAs at the Canons which was given permission at the planning committee on 12 December.

You will know that Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage was shocked and disappointed that none of you spoke up to defend the Cricket Green Conservation Area against this intrusive development, including the light pollution which can now blight the area until 9.45pm outside the summer months.

Our charitable objects include our wish to ‘support and expand the recreational facilities for the benefit of the local people’. For example you will know of our ongoing support for Mitcham Cricket Club. We also champion the Conservation Area as you will have noted from our recent work to support its expansion to include Glebe Court.

We value both sport and heritage. We want to encourage the use of the Canons area for sports of all kinds – not just football – while protecting and enhancing the special character of the Conservation Area. The two aims are not incompatible.

We fully appreciate and support Cllr Judy Saunders’ particular interest in encouraging young people to play sports and her specific emphasis on encouraging school children to play football as a way of providing access to a wide range of social skills, community feeling and inherent fitness. We too believe sport, including team sport like football, is a great leveller, a way to break down social barriers and learn new skills.

Unfortunately we see no evidence that these MUGAs will be anything other than a commercial facility which will be unavailable to local people who may struggle to afford commercial hire rates.

We are very disappointed that at the planning committee none of you made any move to speak up for the Conservation Area. This is despite your repeated support for the Conservation Area on other occasions. We noted that Judy Saunders spoke in favour of the application, Ian Munn voted in favour and Russell Makin said nothing. We can only draw the conclusion that you do not value the Conservation Area and are not minded to defend it or to speak up for it at the time when that is needed most.

This lack of support undermines the trust we thought we had built up with you about the importance of the Conservation Area and our mutual desire to see it protected and enhanced.

However, let us move forward. We ask you to re-commit yourselves publicly to protection of the Conservation Area and to resist all development that fails to enhance it special qualities.

There are two ways in which you can now help mitigate the impact of the MUGA.

First, Judy Saunders emphasised the need to see what she termed in her spoken representation ‘affordable rates’ charged for local people. This was dismissed by officers on the grounds of not wanting to ‘fetter the council’ in terms of charging for use. Nobody on the planning committee stood up for Judy Saunders’ argument and we feel particularly let down by Ian Munn for failing to do so. This does not have to be implemented by a planning condition as the MUGA is the Council’s own development. We urge you all to ensure the facility is available to local people at an ‘affordable rate’ as a matter of Council policy.

Second, we urge you to seek a reduction in the hours when floodlighting might be used. The facility should not be floodlit seven days a week. We consider floodlighting should be permitted for a maximum of three days a week. Nor should floodlights be on as late as 9.45pm. We consider 9.00pm a much more appropriate time for floodlights to be switched off. Again this is entirely in the gift of the Council and you could exercise significant influence.

We look forward to your reply and to seeing your public re-commitment to Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and to protecting it from development which fails to enhance it.

Yours faithfully

John Strover
Chairman, Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage



Council plans for floodlit games area at Canons return

Merton Council has resurrected plans to build a floodlit multi use games area on the currently disused tennis courts at the Canons.

This is the most shocking development proposal we have seen in Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area for some time and we’re utterly dumbfounded that it comes not from a private developer but from the council – who really should know better how to work within the Conservation Area.

In our view this plan is entirely inappropriate. 

• It will cause significant harm to the special quality of Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area and harm the setting of two listed mansion houses – Park Place and Canons

• Seven days a week floodlighting will cause serious light pollution and sky glow at the heart of the area

• There will be serious harm to wildlife, including impacts on legally protected bats

• It will cause a significant loss of important trees and habitats – including damage to a copse valued at £126,000 for the community – which is not adequately compensated for by new planting

• Alternative facilities are available nearby and under-used – Merton Council’s own research concludes “there is significantly better provision in Mitcham and Colliers Wood than other parts of the borough”

• This development is has been put forward by Merton Council despite being knowingly in conflict with its own planning policies – it has been advertised as a “departure application”

• Claimed support for the development is based on a public survey undertaken in the nearby leisure centre – akin to asking visitors to McDonald’s if they like Big Macs

• There is no commitment to make provision for free use of the facilities by the local community – as was available with the former tennis courts

We are entirely supportive of encouraging sporting uses for the Canons area. we’re proud of its rich sporting history and want to see the spaces used by local people for sporting and leisure activities.

We would love to see the tennis courts brought back into use, and would be delighted to support and help fundraise for a scheme that re-uses the former tennis courts without floodlighting.

Our objection to the flootlit multi use games area

More information about this planning application


Council plans floodlit sports pitches at Canons

Merton Council has shocked people with crude and damaging plans to construct floodlit sports pitches in local woodland and on the site of former tennis courts in the heart of the conservation area.

The development contradicts the Council’s own planning policies to protect wildlife, avoid light pollution and care for local heritage.

Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage has campaigned for the old tennis courts in the grounds of the Canons to be brought back to life.

One of our objectives is to encourage recreation and this community facility has stood idle and wasted for years. Now it faces the prospect of being lost forever as Merton Council has plans to develop two “multi use games areas” and floodlight them till 9.30pm every day and all year round.

Eight towering floodlights will be erected and a swathe of woodland will be lost from the nearby and much loved copse.

The Council’s own reports show that such development can have a devastating impact on the local bat population. The light pollution will also have a highly damaging and urbanising impact at the heart of the Conservation Area. The grounds of the Canons are valued for their sensitive lighting and quality of the night time landscape. This was recognised in the development of the Cricket Green Charter and is enhanced by the Council’s own policy deliberately to provide subdued lighting in the area.

All this will go.

The planning application even fails to provide any guarantees that the new facilities will be available for use by the local community.

With underused facilities already available nearby at the KNK Stadium and Cranmer School it is no surprise that a Council study of sports pitches concluded that provision in Mitcham is “significantly better” than elsewhere in the Borough.

There is no excuse for such a devastating development.

We are asking Merton Council to think again and return with plans to restore the old tennis courts for use in daylight hours by local people. We are even offering to help with the fundraising.

Read our full views on the plans for floodlit sports pitches at the Canons.

If you agree, let Merton Council know your views – the information is at Merton’s web site here, and you can submit your views online here.