As we near the end of the year – 2021 will be recorded as an extraordinary year. This year started with a lockdown in the winter months which was a depressing and challenging experience, but that gloom has been alleviated by the arrival of the vaccine. The rollout and general acceptance of the vaccine has been impressive and transformative. Even though we have seen infections rise once more the level of hospitalisations and deaths has thankfully remained much lower than in previous waves.
I can only reiterate what I have written previously in WPRA newsletters. I encourage everyone to get the jabs – first, second, booster and flu. The vaccine is safe, it is effective, and it is the responsible course of action for you and your community.
I would like to highlight three issues currently affecting Wimbledon Park
AELTC Planning Application
As I am sure many of you will know the All England Club have submitted an application as a result of their purchase of Wimbledon Park Golf Club. If approved it would lead to the redesign of the golf course into a community park, the building of several maintenance buildings, 38 grass courts, and a new 8000-seat show court.
There are two processes that will run concurrently; the planning application and the legal consideration of the covenant agreed in 1994.
Whilst many people will reflect that the Golf Club did little for the local community and that the establishment of the new park could be a substantial benefit – there are issues over stewardship and the building of the large maintenance centre adjacent to Home Park Road that need to be resolved. The application is of course seeking to build on Metropolitan Open Land which is usually not allowed. The other principal objections lie in the number of new grass courts which will not be available to the public at any point, the scale of the new show court, and the closure of Church Road for three to four weeks every year.
Attending a meeting with the All England your local Wimbledon Park councillors asked the AELTC many searching questions and suggested that the number of courts should be reduced. Your Residents’ Association has been instrumental in the campaign of objection and has met the CEO and Chairman to express their views. If you wish to comment or object to the application, you can still do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org quoting reference 21/P2900 as Merton Borough Council are still taking objections.
Alongside the planning process there will be a legal process. In 1994 Merton Borough Council and the AELTC agreed a covenant which effectively protected the land from being build upon. Therefore, the legal interpretation of what will be/is allowed will be vital as to whether anything is built regardless of whether the application passes or not. All sides, including your Residents’ Association, are taking legal opinion and I believe this could very well be the determining factor as to what, if anything, is built.
Wherever I go in Wimbledon the issue of litter, dirty streets, and poor refuse collection is raised. At this time of the year the lack of street sweeping means many pavements are dangerous due to the volume of wet leaves.
Last week I was speaking to Wimbledon Park residents and it was raised endlessly with me and my team. If you wish to report rubbish here’s the link: https://tinyurl.com/5z2c5ae9
We are lucky to live in a relatively safe borough, but after the awful murder of Sarah Everard shows no one should be complacent. I will be discussing with the local police what can be done to ensure that Wimbledon remains a safe place for anyone to walk around and live in.
I am particularly concerned that parts of Wandle Park remain unlit, and Merton Council seems reluctant to act. So, if you think that street safety is important please let me know, I will be launching a petition soon keep up to date with my social media and website to learn more.
I think this is likely to be the last edition of the Newsletter before Christmas and New Year so can I wish you all a Merry Christmas and can I wish us all a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year.