Stephen Hammond MP's speech to Merton's Planning Application Committee in opposition to the AELTC's proposed development of Wimbledon Park.
"Cllr Mundy, Members of the PAC, this is only the 2nd time in my 18 years I have asked to address this committee.
In the last year I have received a huge amount of correspondence about this about this proposal. At least 80% in opposition.
Time is too short to explore all of the issues.
In their summary officers “acknowledge there will be some shorter-term impact on ecology and biodiversity but believe these would be outweighed by longer term ecological enhancements.”
If the committee is to look at para 6.13.25 then one would note the major short-term impacts of construction and if one looks at 6.13.41 Merton’s own consultants’ assessment of the Environmental Statement’s adequacy varies considerably with those of the applicant.
I would suggest this needs careful consideration.
In their Heritage summary, officers identify the development would cause ‘less than substantial harm’ and yet in same summary note this application gives rise to conflict with heritage policies in the development plan. Notably, London plan policy HC1 and Merton SPP policy DMD4.
The principles of development section this development is considered inappropriate and would result in definitional harm as per NPPF para 147. The Parkland Show Court would not preserve the openness of MOL and it is non-compliant with “MOL purpose”.
Whilst the officers then discuss Very Special Circumstances The Committee will need to consider very carefully what VSC really is, what its benefits really are, and if VSC can ever outweigh this defined harm.
If this application were to pass tonight, it would set a precedent for applicants to build on MOL, parks, and open spaces not only in this Borough but across London.
In summary this application is too big in scale, size and impact on our local community.
Therefore, I urge the committee to reject this application. As I believe Tennis and Wimbledon are synonymous, I hope that a new application which benefits both the AELTC and the community is brought forward."