The Planning Applications Committee of Wandsworth Council (“PAC”) is meeting tomorrow night to decide on an application that will decide the future of Tooting Triangle and the various services and organisations that call it home. The text below is our submission to the PAC which will be read out to the PAC on our behalf by the chair.
Representation from Councillor Clare Fraser
Thank you chair for reading this representation on my behalf.
I have consulted with local groups and am asking the committee to defer agreement on the proposal this evening but to return the plans to the developer for reconsideration.
This application will have a negative impact on:
- the stay and play provision;
- Balham Boxing Club;
- gender equality in the provision of facilities;
- local wildlife and biodiversity;
- light pollution;
- common use of common land; and
- urbanisation of common land.
When this proposal was discussed at the Education and Children’s Services Committee – with huge opposition from local parents – we were told that there would be some reduced continuation of the stay and play provision. But, the developer’s plans do not include any firm statements in regards to the current stay and play provision, which is a vital service for our local pre-school children, parents and carers. The plans do not state if TFC will charge lower than £2.50 per session or indeed continue the current free provision, what the provision offer will be or if it will reflect the current offer.
I know the committee have received a statement from Balham Boxing Club (BBC), who, despite being part of this site for many years, have been kept in the dark in regards to this application. The plans presented this evening present a vast departure to those presented to BBC at initial stages, and something they would never have agreed to.
Paper 18-432, which was agreed at the Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November 2018, states at paragraph 10:
“The proposed development of the current building will provide toilets, showers, changing rooms, office space, a reception area and space for the BABC, together with publicly accessible toilets and a publicly accessible refreshment facility, all within a building that would be approximately 100 square metres larger than the current one.”
This is not what tonight’s application promises. Tonight’s application shows BBC losing their kitchen, storage and a reduction in gym space to their current provision, and female changing rooms which are an insult in comparison to the male changing room. These plans almost guarantee BBC will not be able to survive: they will not be able to sell as many tickets to their fundraising events because their maximum spectator capacity will be much reduced, and they will not be able to sell refreshments to spectators. These fundraising events provide the club with its only source of revenue, which in turn gives it the ability to provide provision and outreach to vulnerable groups. Tonight’s application is not fit for purpose for BBC and reneges on previous promises. For this reason it should not be agreed and should be sent back to the developer for reconsideration.
This weekend has seen the local community voice their strong opposition to plans to commercialise this much cherished area of the Common. It includes comments by bodies such as Tooting Common MAC and the Friends of Tooting Common. Indeed, the community and groups such as the MAC were unhappy when a proposal was presented for the site in 2008 by Goals which ultimately resulted in a judicial review, something which I could foresee happening again. The current climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have reinforced stronger feelings for protecting the integrity and openness of Tooting Common.
Tooting Common MAC oppose the application in its entirety because of the inclusion of floodlighting. There have not been working floodlights in this area for many, many years, and in that time the biodiversity of the area has thrived, especially the bat population. Adding floodlights to this area, especially with the long proposed hours of operation, will negatively impact upon the natural biodiversity of the site’s surroundings, not to mention the added light pollution which will negatively impact upon surroundings. The addition of floodlights represents a significant, harmful change to the area.
Should this application be approved, the redgra pitch would be taken out of the common, and out of common use. This is a fundamental shift from publicly accessible to all, to privately controlled and accessible only to a paying few. This would be a sad change to the face of the Triangle and its surroundings.
The developer’s “Green Transport Plan” notes that there is no parking provided. However, nothing is being proposed to adequately address other modes of transport, with only the minimum amount of bike parking provided. This will inevitably incentivise driving and create parking problems due to the lack of parking available on Cavendish Road.
This application will result in a loss of trees, shrubs, grassland and a resulting impact on birds, insects, other wildlife, impact on air quality, wellbeing and health of common users. An attempted mitigation by way of tree planting does not seem adequate to counteract the increased urbanisation of the site. The Design and Access Statement’s claim that the development will ‘increase community cohesion’ seems wrong in that respect.
Much as I, and my fellow Bedford ward councillors, would like to support an application which seeks to improve this site, we can only do so if it works for all the various parts and users of this site, and what has become clear to us, is that this is far from the case.