Saturday, 16 May 2020

The proposed commercialisation of Tooting Common Triangle by Wandsworth council


Today, St.Leonard's Councillors sent a formal objection to the Wandsworth planning department and members of the Planning Application Committee on behalf of the many residents who have contacted us expressing their concerns about the proposals for the hardcore pitch on Tooting Common.

The proposal can be found at:
 https://planning2.wandsworth.gov.uk/planningcase/comments.aspx?case=2019/4206 
 
This is what we said:

The St. Leonard's ward boundary runs along the eastern edges of the common and many of our residents - families and individuals, use it for leisure, exercise, play, team sports and dog walking. Many of whom have signed the petition (more than 5000 signatures on 16th May) to end the proposed commercialisation of this wonderful green and open space. The petition can be found at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-tooting-common

Whilst supporting the plans to upgrade the Boxing Club and its facilities we object vehemently to the rest of the proposal on the following grounds:
 
IMPACT ON THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT -

The use and gradual disintegration of artificial pitch materials - which as they disintegrate will result in microplastics seeping into the soil and water course

Use of floodlights on a regular basis which will disrupt bats and other evening/nightime wildlife

This area is prone to heavy flooding and there is a lack of detail in the plans as to how this will be managed.

Loss of trees, shrubs, grassland and resulting impact on birds, insects, other wildlife, impact on air quality, wellbeing and health of common users.

 SUITABILITY OF THE PROPOSAL -

We fully support the upgrading of the Boxing Club and its facilities and the proposed provision of a home ground for the children's football club, The Balham Blazers BUT these gains are totally outweighed by the losses. We support sport provision and outside activities for all, especially children and young people who are so often overlooked by council provision, but overall, these plans will result in loss of provision for young and old.

The Triangle One O'Clock Club - a free provision, much used, loved and essential Children's Centre will be closed and replaced with a cafe (there is already a cafe within 100m of the site on Cavendish Road) and a stay and play area charging £2.50/hour. Turning a fully inclusive space into an area only accessible to those who can afford it, losing all the essential services a Children's Centre provides.

The very well used hard core pitch will be turned into multiple pitches with the erection of chain mail fencing and the replacing and addition of floodlighting. The pitches will remain locked shut, available only to those who have booked and paid to use them, no longer available to residents and common users as it is now. An unacceptable proposal at a time when green/open spaces are an essential amenity due to the ongoing pandemic
 
EFFECT ON TRAFFIC AND PARKING

The site is tucked away in the corner of the common where it is inaccessible to vehicles. There is limited parking in Cavendish Road (4 spaces); insufficient bicycle storage and lack of parking spaces in neighbouring roads.

Footfall - if, as has been suggested, up to one hundred people an hour use the site, insufficient thought has been put into how users will travel to and from the site. No survey has been provided on potential parking stress or thought given to the provision of cycle/scooter parking. Of major concern is the lack of parking spaces for disabled and Blue Badge drivers.

The site accommodates a children's playground - what provision has been put in place for children whilst the major works take place and what thought has been put into the safeguarding of children if the site becomes heavily populated by adult users.
 
APPEARANCE

We object to the chain mail fence - creating a caged effect and its design and visual impact on Metropolitan Open land and a Local Heritage asset.
 
PRIVATISATION/COMMERCIALISING OF THE COMMON

Common land is held in trust by the council for all local people to have free access to.

In a previous case, Muir/Wandsworth Borough Council, concerning the commercial use of a building on Wandsworth Common, the Hon Mrs Justice Lang ruled that:

- the residents are the owners of the open space

- the Local Authority are the trustees of the open space

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