Tag Archives: Planning Applications

White Hart restoration plans blighted by intrusive flats

The Grade II listed White Hart is one of the most important buildings in Merton and stands prominently at the heart of Cricket Green Conservation Area.

It includes a large area of land to the rear which is the focus of plans for a new block of flats.

We have welcome the proposals to restore and re-open the White Hart and demolish the modern extension to its rear.

Unfortunately the new building proposed as part of the development is less sympathetic.

The architects drawing clearly show it will be visible above the roofline of the White Hart in the key approach along Cricket Green to the south.

Worryingly, there is no information provided on the impact on Lower Green West.

The design of the new flats also doesn’t do justice the the location and the proposed beer garden will spend most of its time in shade. An opportunity has been missed to service the White Hart from the rear and avoid delivery lorries adding to the congestion and road safety problems at Jubilee Corner.

As a consequence we have objected to the plans (see here) and invited the developers to collaborate on an alternative. We would welcome well designed residential development which funds restoration of the White Hart and avoids damage to the Conservation Area.

Read our comments

Date Valley School – our comments on revised planning application to extend opening hours

A planning application made by Date Valley School on Cricket Green to extend its opening hours into the evenings and Saturdays was discussed at a planning applications committee in October. The decision was made to ‘defer’ the application rather than grant or refuse permission.

In the mean time, Date Valley School has revised its planning application. The school no longer wishes to offer adult education on a Saturday, instead it wants to open up to older children than its current intake and to young people.

This change of plans does little to alter our views, and we have submitted a new representation – Date Valley School – extended use – December 14

The planning application will be discussed at the Planning Committee meeting on 11 December 2014.

You can read our earlier representation at Date Valley School planning application – our representation

Conversion of Brook House into flats

The owner of Brook House on Cricket Green has plans to convert the currently empty office block into 21 flats.

The plan is made possible by national government rules that allow the owners of offices to convert them into accommodation with very limited controls by local authorities.

We have commented on the proposal urging Merton Council to require a parking plan, ensure that the main access route is not along Cricket Green road and not allow external lighting which would be detrimental to the Cricket Green Conservation Area.

Read our comments on prior notification to convert Brook House into flats

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:

John,

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 rejects Mitcham canopy in 8 to 1 vote

Last night Merton’s Planning Committee rejected plans to put a canopy on Fair Green in a decisive eight to one vote.

The canopy, initially presented as a covered market which could also be used for community events was seen as badly designed and not fit for the purpose intended. Even Merton’s own officers, in their report to the planning committee, admitted it was not suitable for community events.

The Council’s own Design Review Panel decision to give the canopy a Red rating last week played an important part. We reported on its meeting last week.

We were shocked to see how much the Merton Council’s planning officer appeared to be acting as an advocate for the project rather than supporting councillors by providing the  information needed for them to make a planning decision. It is very important when a planning committee is dealing with the council’s own developments for there to be a clear division between the council officers acting as developers and those servicing the planning committee.

It was very clear that the quality and timing of the application owed more to the availability of external funding than to providing a well designed and effective structure for Mitcham town centre.

Let’s be clear about our position. As our representative said a the planning committee we want Mitcham to be a success. We want to see thriving businesses, and Fair Green as a hub of activity. But like the Design Review Panel we think the canopy was poorly designed and ill conceived. As so many people said at the planning committee – Mitcham deserves better.