On September 27, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, announced that he is not calling in our planning application. This is extremely welcome news and represents a victory for common sense. You can read the letter from Sajid Javid announcing his decision.
Since being submitted 20 months ago, our plans have been subjected to exhaustive scrutiny by Merton Council and the GLA, statutory bodies such as Transport for London and the Environment Agency, as well as three rounds of public consultation, and have won unanimous support.
So we are pleased that the Secretary of State has concluded that he need not intervene and we thank him for that.
AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Erik Samuelson said: ‘We would like to thank the very many people who have supported us in this and previous campaigns, in particular by writing to the relevant authorities to urge approval of the application.
‘Such support is a sign of the continued determination to return to Wimbledon that has sustained us over the time since we re-formed.
‘And now, at long last, we can start planning with confidence to give AFC Wimbledon a secure future at the heart of the community the club represents, as well as building many much-needed homes and providing a major boost to the economy of the area.
‘After so many years in exile, the Dons are coming home!’
Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: ‘This is fantastic news for the club and for Merton.
‘We have always supported the return of AFC Wimbledon to home turf and now they and their legions of dedicated fans can look forward to the reality.
‘We will also benefit from new homes and business opportunities for the area which is very exciting too.’
Although I have always supported the return to Merton, considered the FA’s decision to allow the so-called owners of Wimbledon FC to move the club’s League membership to Milton Keynes as not in the greater interests of football, I have concerns that appear to be not mentioned:
1. What is going to happen to Kingstonians FC who provided AFC Wimbledon a home, but have subsequently become Tennant’s to AFC?
2. The current proposal for the new ground fails to acknowledge the motorsport heritage of Wimbledon Stadium, the home of Wimbledon Speedway team for decades and still the venue for Stock car racing. This is the last reaming oval track in London. I would like to see a joint football and motorsport venue that will truly reflect the sporting heritage of Plough Lane. I am sure that such a stadium could be designed and could be open to competition.
Firstly, thanks for your comment.
1. Kingstonian are pursuing a move to a new ground within their borough. With crowds averaging around 300 to 400, Kingsmeadow is now too large for Kingstonian, whose board has stated that it does not see the stadium as appropriate for its future needs. As part of our sale of Kingsmeadow to Chelsea we will pay a significantly larger sum to Kingstonian than they are entitled to under the terms of their licence; this sum will be held in an escrow account to help fund their stadium costs. For more details, see the original Back in Two Ticks information pack (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxbinzBMBdrcMktyOWdKSm1Kc0U/view), in particular page 17.
2. The new stadium site on Plough Lane is physically tight, and it is already a challenge to fit both the football stadium and the enabling development onto the site. Including a motorsport oval in the plans would have made the development financially unviable. Furthermore, at this stage changing our plans to include a motorsport oval would probably also necessitate restarting the planning application process from scratch. Consultations with Trust members about the finer details of the stadium design will be starting soon and if there is sufficient support from members we can look to include some recognition of the site’s recent history.