People who have travelled along Plough Lane recently may have noticed a lot of activity, with diggers and lorries coming and going, and wondered what’s happening on the stadium site. The answer is, ‘Actually, nothing right now’ – but that’s set to change soon.
The site of the old greyhound stadium has now been split in two. One site is owned by us following our acquisition of the freehold in December, and will contain our stadium. The other site is owned by Merton Catalyst LLP (a joint venture between Galliard Homes and Catalyst Housing Limited) and will contain their residential and retail developments.
Merton Catalyst are already on their site doing some work, which is what passers-by may have spotted. We aim to start on our site very soon by issuing Buckingham Group with a letter of intent that will enable them to start groundworks and to start preparing our site for building the stadium.
As confirmed by Mark Davis in the matchday programme against Peterborough United, we have been working with Buckingham and their design partner, KSS Group, a sports architectural practice, to finishing scoping the specification for the stadium. This work has been covered by what is known as a pre-construction services agreement (or PCSA). The contract to actually build the stadium has not yet been signed but we are aiming to have it signed soon in order for us to achieve a first home game at the start of the 2020/21 season.
The stadium’s final specification will include options that supporters will be consulted on. We will be able to consult on these options even while initial preparatory and building works are underway as we will have ‘decision deadlines’ highlighted in the construction timeline. Later on we will have a further consultation about fitting out the stadium.
We know that supporters are keen to be ‘walked through’ the latest stadium plans so that they can visualise what it will look like. Given that work to finalise the specification is taking slightly longer than anticipated even just a few weeks ago, we would rather wait until we have completed this work before showing the plans. This will help us avoid being inadvertently misleading by presenting anything that subsequently needs further tweaks. We apologise for the delay; we know it is frustrating for you to feel that you are being kept out of the loop.
Next week, Merton Council is scheduled to decide on our request for some amendments to our original planning application. A significant amount of work has gone into scrutinising these amendments and we are confident that the case for approving them is strong.
It is possible that Merton’s decision will attract comments on social media from some local residents. We ask supporters to respect the views of these residents, no matter how unjustified you personally think their views may be, and to help us demonstrate that AFC Wimbledon will be a good neighbour and an integral and valuable part of our community.