Atkinson Morley's Hospital Green Space
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This page contains background information on the early history of the campaign from 1982, and plans for the AMH site up to June 2011
Berkeley Homes consultations and planning applications
The AMH site was sold to
Homes plc around the end of April 2010. In addition to the hospital
buildings, the purchase included the former nurses' homes (the Firs) and
the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) to the south. The Wolfson
Neurorehabilitation Centre is not part of the site, and remains as a St.
George's NHS Trust facility.
Subsequently, Berkeley Homes set up a page for the AMH project on their web-site: www.atkinson-morley.com in order to communicate more widely.
Berkeley Homes developed new proposals for a residential development which were presented at a public exhibition on October 1st and 2nd 2010. Following a further a period of public consultation, Berkeley has now submitted new planning applications to the London Borough of Merton. All interested parties were urged to attend a second public exhibition February 18th and 19th 2011 to view and respond to the latest proposals. Information about the consultations and latest plans were published on the Berkeley Homes website (hyperlink above)
The planning application was
published on Merton Council's web-site:
11/P0346 Registered 09/03/2011
On 10th June 2011, a number of changes were announced to the planning application above, of which the principal ones are:
11/P0050 Registered 12/01/2011
The planning applications were made available for inspection at the ground floor of reception of the Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 5DX, between 9.00am-5pm Mondays to Fridays. The Duty Officer was available from 9am-11am Mondays to Fridays to discuss the application.
The consultation period ended on 30th March, although comments submitted after this period were also said to be considered if practical where practical. The public were invited to make any comments about the plans to the Council, in writing or via email, quoting the Planning Officer's name, Sue Wright. In order to record correspondence against the application, individual names and addresses were requested. All comments were to be published for public viewing on the Council's web-site, although for security reasons correspondents were requested not sign letters or provide telephone numbers.
Residents were also invited to contact their local Residents' Association or the LUNG Committee who are representing local residents collectively. During the past year, the LUNG Committee met with both Berkeley Homes and the Council about the emerging plans for the Site and was consulted on temporary works to the footpath and proposed security arrangements.
Feedback received on the latest planning application suggested that the built element of the plans was generally quite well received, but many people expressed concern at uncertainty over plans for the open land.
Berkeley Homes had been developing a business plan for the open land based on the assumption that it would be owned and managed by a Community Trust. The Council then announced that it proposed to take on the freehold of the open land, but did not inform LUNG its management plans for the site, giving rise to continued concerns about drainage and the quality of the land, as well as the financial sustainability of the site.
It was essential that management and business plans for the open land were developed, with potential income and expenditure assessed, before planning consent was granted. The consent was to include conditions on works that the developer committed to doing on the open land, and the financial contributions they were required to make. These conditions are known as a Section 106 agreement. To ensure a sustainable outcome for the open land the works need to be specified appropriately, and provision made to cover any excess of expenditure over income in the Section 106 agreement.
Click on the links below to see copies of:
(a) a leaflet that has been distributed by LUNG and the local residents' associations to all homes close to the site expressing concern about various issues such as dumping of spoil from excavations onto the playing fields, inadequate provision of drainage systems, and the financial sustainability of the open land.
(b) a letter to the Council explaining the issues that we feel need to be addressed with regard to the open land, and offering our support with this;
letter to Thames Water
expressing concern at the proposal to take waste water and sewage from the
new development south across the open land to Cottenham Park Road where
there have already been problems with drainage.
How did it all start?
In 1982, Merton council prepared a Planning Brief which proposed that all the sports pitches (upper and lower levels) and the site of the current Scout HQ should be used for housing. A hastily prepared and vigorous campaign defeated the plan and it was withdrawn.
Over the next 20 years, the NHS then started to dispose and redevelop other property assets in the Copse Hill area:
The land and buildings of the Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, as well as surrounding land owned by the St. George’s NHS Trust, were also identified as surplus and it was decided they should be sold or otherwise disposed of. A total of 23 acres (8.85 hectares) was declared surplus to requirements.
Mr. Atkinson Morley had donated the land to St. George’s Hospital with the objective of improving the health of the people of London. It became apparent that if these residual 23 acres of the original 230-acre of the Earl of Cottenham were to be saved, a concerted effort would be required by the community. Greater protection for both open land and the Victorian hospital were achieved through designation as: Conservation Area (1990), Part of the woodland and lawn to the south of the hospital as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) (1994), Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) (1994), making it equivalent to Green Belt.
A substantial portion of the site, an area of 17 acres (6.99 hectares), is therefore unsuitable for development, as it is designated as a Conservation Area and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) under the Unitary Development Plan which is followed by the London Borough of Merton in matters of planning consent. In addition, approximately 3 acres of the MOL portion is also designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).
A record number of responses were despatched from the community to the UDP consultation in support of MOL status. Further liaison between the various local voluntary groups followed with the formation of the umbrella group, LUNG, under the leadership of Nick Smith and a charitable trust, Morley Park Trust was registered in recognition of the benefactor,
Merton Council's latest Planning Brief for the AMH site was approved in July 2003, replacing the earlier Chapter 9 Annex to the Unitary Development Plan which was then adopted in October 2003.. The Planning Brief constitutes formal Supplementary Planning Guidance, and should be taken into account by owners, potential developers and all other interested parties when considering opportunities for future use of the site.
LUNG's vision for Morley Park
Business Plan for the Morley Park Trust
In April 1999, the above organisations submitted to the Atkinson Morley Task Force, the St. George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, and the London Borough of Merton, a draft proposal and business plan for the areas designated as Metropolitan Open Land. The most appropriate and broadly acceptable solution was considered to be a privately funded public park (owned by a charitable trust) for the benefit of the community and local wildlife.
The Morley Park Trust Ltd (MPT) was established, and a team of specialist volunteers, led by Philip Black, put together a new business plan which addresses both the capital costs of setting up the Park and the running costs into the future.
The team were helped by considerable professional input from Merton Council, the Wimbledon Conservators, and others in regard to costings for the upgrade and maintenance of the woodland areas and playing fields. They also explored partnerships that could defray costs to the MPT for such areas as the playing fields, as well as outlining income potential for the site, in keeping with the principles that have already been set out.
The AMH site is
also on the 200 bus route which goes from
Mitcham to Raynes Park via Wimbledon Town and Village. There is
currently a turning circle for the bus on the
Hospital site, by the Copse Hill entrance. This bus service is
currently much used by both hospital staff and
local residents. LUNG has
conducted a survey to establish patterns of use, and residents’
views about what should happen to this bus service when the hospital
St. George's Trust
Revised planning application
Final planning applications
approved October 2005:
The sale of The Atkinson Morley's site, which included The Firs flats but excluded the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit, took took place on April 2006. St. George's Trust announced that the Atkinson Morley and Firs sites were sold for a total of £20m to a private developer named Laguna Quays Ltd., a company registered in the Virgin Islands. The change of ownership of the AMH site was recorded at the Land Registry, and LUNG obtained a copy of the registration document (summary of key points attached). Mr. Homer (Chief Executive) signed the document on behalf of the St Georges NHS Trust, and there were two signatories from Laguna Quays, whose names were, rather suspiciously, witheld from the public document.
The Trust's share of the sale was £15.1m, of which £11.5m must be returned to the Strategic Health Authority to pay off a loan that helped fund the new wing at St. George's Hospital, and £3.3M will be applied to improve St. George's finances. http://www.stgeorges.nhs.uk/docs/StGeorgesGazette/GazetteIssue17.pdf
In addition, the NHS took a 2-year lease from
Laguna Quays for 27 parking places close to Cottenham Park Road for the
use of the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit.
The views expressed by attendees were
mixed on the merits of the proposals for the built element of the scheme.
Many preferred the new Laguna Quays proposals for the built development to
the previously-approved St Georges application; some were disappointed at
the lack of housing provision, but most welcomed a return to use as a
hospital. However most also expressed concerns about the
infringements of buildings and parking on metropolitan open land, the lack
of any guarantees for the long term future use of the open land and public
access to it, and the rerouting of the north/south path. Another
very common concern was the total lack of information on who Laguna Quays
are. Those presenting the scheme at the exhibition were not from Laguna
Quays but were architectural advisors and doctors employed by them as
consultants. LUNG has written to Laguna Quays via their solicitors
expressing these concerns and asking that a mechanism be devised to
guarantee the restoration, maintenance and use of the Atkinson Morley open
New planning application submitted by Laguna
Quays (May 2007)
Public Meeting to discuss latest developments
At the meeting, the community were supportive of the proposal to use the site for a private hospital but expressed strong concerns about the proposals for the open land, especially the fencing of the proposed rerouted path on both sides and the lack of informal access to the open land. Council officers stated that their recommendations for the open land and the requirements relating to the open land that should go into a section 106 agreement. They invited local residents to submit their proposals for the open land facilities, public access and footpath design.
Revised planning application
The minutes confirmed our understanding
of the extra conditions, and additional items in the S106 agreement
The precise wording on all of this was left to the Chairman and Deputy
Chairman of the Planning Committee but, as minuted:
The application submitted in 2007 by Laguna Quays was was approved subject to a section 106 agreement as indicated above, but negotiations failed to reach completion due to lack of agreement on the Section 106. In the meantime the site became sadly neglected.
For around 2 years, the LUNG Committee had nothing concrete to report. LUNG approached local MP, Stephen Hammond, and asked him to ascertain where things stood with the AMH planning application. Click here for the Merton Council letter of 17 February 2009
In the meantime, residents concerned about the potential health and safety hazards posed by the dilapidated state of various parts of the AMH site were requested to write to Sarah Tarnburn at Merton Council (email: email@example.com; direct line 020 8545 3083).
|Last Updated 28/03/12|