Last Updated on 12 February 2023
In a recent newsletter from the AELTC to local residents the following statement was made
‘We are committed to providing permanent public access to this parkland, ensuring the scheme benefits our local community not only now, but for future generations to come. In fact, following our suggestion to Merton Council, and in the spirit of our long term partnership with the local community, we wholeheartedly commit to public access to the parkland that is a legally binding permanent commitment should we obtain planning permission.
We hope this demonstrates how central our local community are to our plans, and look forward to delivering this new parkland as our first priority should planning permission be granted. Our planning application to both Merton and Wandsworth Councils should be heard in the coming months and ahead of The Championships 2023.”
Whilst this appears to be reassuring, we have to question what is meant by “a legally binding permanent commitment”. Indications from recent exchanges suggest that what the AELTC means is a S.106 Agreement, which is a legal agreement between a developer and a local authority whereby the developer provides funds to improve the local infrastructure. But there are legal avenues by which such an agreement can be set aside. Therefore, such a commitment may not be ‘permanent’, as claimed by the AELTC.
We have proposed that the parkland be vested in an independent body dedicated to its preservation and maintenance. The only way to ensure permanent public access to the parkland is by a transfer of ownership.
The AELTC newsletter also refers to the “long term partnership with the local community”. The Wimbledon Society has tried to engage constructively with the AELTC about their plans but without success. Together with local Residents’ Associations, we represent around 8,000 households, the real community, and, despite trying to engage with the AELTC to hear our views, we have always been rebuffed. Emails often don’t get answered. As an example, we have challenged their figures around the soil disposal and lorry movements but have received no substantive reply after more than 6 months.
This is as much about the future of our area and for the people that will be living here. In 1993 the AELTC promised they would not build on this heritage parkland. If they can break that promise what is to stop them doing so again with the new promises they are offering now?
Their focus is the delivery of their commercial priorities. Ours is the protection of our heritage parkland – once it is gone it is gone for good.