Merton Council is set to decide on the latest plan to repurpose the White Hart and build flats in its car park during the next few weeks.
We have long supported some development here. It can restore the Grade II listed building and re-open the pub that lies at the very heart of the Conservation Area.
Merton Council’s draft Local Plan echoes our call for the building to be used as a restaurant or pub.
Unfortunately, the best that’s on offer in the new plan is to convert most of the listed building into flats and provide an office or something similar on the ground floor.
Merton Council turned down an earlier plan that would have damaged the Conservation Area and done nothing to restore the listed building. The developer has appealed and this appeal is now pending the decision on the latest scheme.
We have been encouraged by the opportunity to meet with the architects and discuss the revised plans but remain concerned by them persisting with the planning appeal.
The latest plan provides 18 flats and is one storey lower than the previous one. Unfortunately, this does not remove its impact on the key view of the White Hart from Cricket Green. The new flats will be visible over the top of the listed building and the characteristic hipped profile of the White Hart’s sloping roofline will be lost. They will also be highly visible over London Box Sash windows from near the new Cricketers flats.
The plan to remove all 13 trees from the site and replace them with just six of unknown quality and variety is unacceptable.
It continues the worrying local trend towards felling trees without adequate replacements despite the climate and wildlife emergencies. We’ve asked for revised plans that increase the tree canopy by at least 10%. This can be easily achieved by investing in the run down land between the current car park and Broadway Gardens. This will also benefit the residents of Highfield Court. On the plus side it is good to see a change in the plans to ensure that any new development is serviced from the rear.
The development also fails to meet Merton Council’s expectation for 40% of new homes to be affordable, offers just one three-bedroomed flat instead of the six expected by planning policy and includes some “single aspect” homes which only have windows on one side.
We’re disappointed that we must object to the new plans. It is very clear what changes need to be made to deliver what everyone wants – well designed affordable homes tucked behind the White Hart to fit in with the Conservation Area, provide more trees and restore the listed White Hart as a centre piece of the area. We stand ready to work with the developer and Merton Council to secure this result.
Read our comments on the latest plan for the White Hart here.