Merton Council’s planning application committee has tonight approved plans to expand Dundonald Primary onto part of Dundonald Rec.
Under the plans the public will lose full or partial access to around 5% of the Rec. The Council is also seeking removal of the legal protection against building on the Rec.
However, it is still open to London’s Mayor Boris Johnson stop the proposals in their tracks. The Council must now consult the Mayor again, and he has 14 days to decide whether to let the decision proceed, or whether to tell the Council to refuse the application. During tonight’s meeting planning officers were forced to admit that the “vast majority” of the public who responded to the consultation were against the plans.
Following outcome of the meeting, local campaigner Diana Coman said:
If the Council had not sold off so many school sites in the past there would be land to use for new schools now or – more likely – there would be no need for new schools at all.
The argument against the plans to build on Dundonald Rec is about the erosion of an asset. Yes, we have a problem of lack of school places, but using other assets – like public open space – to correct the problem created by both Conservative and Labour administrations does not seem to me to be an answer. London-wide planning rules are supposed to protect public open space and I hope that Boris will make the right decision.
Merton Council hired consultants to identify other sites across Wimbledon for potential new schools – and the report identified sites including a car park and a former factory – but the alternatives just don’t seem to be being looked at.
Cllr Iain Dysart, leader of Merton’s Lib Dem councillors added:
Although we know that finding enough primary school places is a London-wide issue, this episode serves as a stark reminder of how long-term planning is infinitely preferable to short-term scrambling.
Update: Diana has written to Boris Johnson, urging him to support local residents and reject the proposals from Merton Council.