At a recent Merton Planning Applications Committee, the Labour majority approved an application for a 12 storey office building at St George’s House East, opposite Wimbledon Train Station. Labour Councillors, none of whom represent Wimbledon, all voted in favour. Conservative and other opposition Councillors opposed the development.
How did we get here?
In November 2020, Conservative Councillors opposed the Future Wimbledon Masterplan (SPD) which was passed by Labour. This document brought forward an “increase in building heights” and specifically looked to “locate taller buildings around the station”. This builds on Merton Labour’s aspiration for the 'Croydonisation' of Wimbledon, destroying the character of our town. This is not something we would ever support.
It remains our strong belief that Wimbledon needs a new Masterplan and a new Local Plan for Merton. Residents agree with us that these plans don’t need small changes and improvements, we need to start again. It’s not a matter of simply lowering heights (as suggested by the Liberal Democrats) but by looking again at the mass, density, bulk and appearance of buildings that residents want to see.
As Cllr James Holmes (Trinity ward) said at the meeting, “Residents are not ready for this plan. They are telling us they do not like the architecture of what's being proposed, they do not feel that historic buildings are being looked after properly and they are not happy with this plan. If residents are not ready to get behind this then we can't."
Despite the huge amount of local opposition, the Labour administration brought forward the new Local Plan, incorporating its Future Wimbledon plans, to a vote at council in July 2021. The Liberal Democrats voted for the Local Plan with Labour. Merton Conservatives stuck to our position and that of Wimbledon residents and voted against the plan.
Given the height of the St George’s House East application, this must now be referred to the Greater London Authority (GLA). We are petitioning on behalf of the local community to show them that Wimbledon does not want this office block.
To stop this happening again, Wimbledon and Merton need new planning policies residents can support, that do not concrete over and above Wimbledon. Merton Conservatives are the only party to consistently vote against opening the door to endless high-rise office buildings in Wimbledon. Our replacement Local Plan would focus on the needs of the local community and not developers. It would reflect the changes of recent years, with the increase in home-working and lower requirement for office space. And it would lay the foundations for a cleaner, greener Merton.
Merton needs a new administration that listens to you and solves the problems exacerbated by 12 years of Labour incompetence. The Liberal Democrats cannot win in Merton or challenge Labour, only the Conservatives can beat Labour and take Merton forward