In my experience there has only been one other application as controversial as the AELTC planning application – the development of the Atkinson Morley Hospital site. The planning application by the AELTC to build 39 grass courts and a new show court will finally be heard on 26 October.
However, it is somewhat surprising that, as I write this column, it has been decided that only two local residents will be able to speak. The application has attracted widespread local opposition and I would have hoped that a greater expression of local opinion might have been permitted.
I have written on this matter in several previous columns so I do not propose to rehearse them again. However, I have always believed that whilst Wimbledon and Tennis are synonymous and we all want the Championships to thrive, the scale and size of this application is not in keeping with the local environment. I still believe that a solution that benefits the AELTC and residents could be achieved if the scale of the application was reduced.
The balance between building more homes and preserving the uniqueness of a local area is always a hard balance to strike. If we wish Wimbledon to thrive we do need to ensure that there are homes for people to live in. I recently met with Grainger, one of the UK’s largest build-to-rent companies to discuss the upcoming reform to rental regulation in the UK. I know this is something which impacts a large number of people in Wimbledon, and particularly our young people. It is clear that we need to not only build more houses but a wide range of housing for the UK. Rental properties will be an important part of that mix.
Rental reform and leaseholder reform must be an urgent priority alongside planning reform. The aim of these reforms is to provide a fairer system for both landlords and tenants. They build upon the action of Conservative Governments already in place to stop rogue landlords.
Over ten years ago I launched the Mucky Merton Campaign to clean up our borough. I campaigned for the installation of street cleaning after refuse collection, to make it easier to recycle, and for tough action on fly tipping and graffiti.
Over the last decade there have been improvements but the re-negotiation of the waste contract will allow us to ensure all the original aims of my Mucky Merton campaign are achieved.
Please let me know your views on what we need to make Merton the cleanest borough in London at by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As some readers may have seen, I recently announced that I shall not be seeking the nomination to be the Conservative candidate for the new constituency of Wimbledon and the Maldens at the next general election. This has not been an easy decision to make, but it is the right decision for Sally and me. It has been the privilege of my life to serve as Wimbledon’s representative in Westminster since 2005 and I shall continue to faithfully discharge my responsibilities until the election is called.