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St. George's application approved October 2005

August 2005 amendments to December 2004 application

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Public meeting
9th February 2005

Summary of application

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LUNG's objections to December 2004 application

Previous plans (2003)

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Merton Council's Unitary Development Plan

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Following the approval of the planning application the NHS Trust has put the Atkinson Morley site on the market. They have set up a website to help market it so you can see for yourselves what is being said by visiting

They are putting the whole site on the market but make clear that the terms of the approved application require the freehold of the open land and a dowry for its maintenance to go to the Local Authority. There is however no guarantee that the approved application will be built. They have also produced a brochure which can be accessed from the link below; please note that the file size is 6.3 mb.

Sale particulars

It is clear that the Trust are anxious to complete the sale as quickly as possible. They are also pushing to complete the Section 106 negotiations, including the dowry that will be paid for the  open land, as quickly as possible.  These negotiations are between the Council and the NHS Trust. Morley Park Trust, the charity set up by LUNG to potentially take on the management of the site, have recently met with the Council and hope that it will be possible for the Council to take on the freehold of the open land and for local residents and Morley Park Trust to have a major role in managing the setting up and running of the park.



What was approved:

A Section 106 Agreement between Merton Council and the NHS Trust, which sets out the obligations of the future developer was signed.  Thanks to the tremendous efforts of local residents this agreement includes some provision for the open land and agreement that the freehold will pass to the council. It can be summarised as follows

The freehold of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) will pass to Merton Council. The following sums will pass to the Council from the developer:

  •  £145,000 as the contribution towards education, including lifelong learning
  •  £627,000 for the maintenance and improvement of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL)
  •  £105,000 for the construction and maintenance of a childrens' playground within the MOL
  •  £47,000 for sustainable transport initiatives (improvements to public transport, facilities for pedestrians/onstreet parking management)
  •  £22,000 for the construction of speed cushions in Copse Hill

Also approved:

  • Demolition of the incinerator and groundsmens' sheds, removal of deposited rubbish within the MOL
  • Construction of a new bus turning facility within the grounds of the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit (WRU)
    Car Parking management Plan for the construction and management of a car park adjacent to the sports pavilion adjacent to Cottenham Park Road, available for the use of the staff of WRU throughout its life and subsequently to return to the users of the sports fields if the operations of the Unit remove elsewhere
  • Construction of a footpath through the MOL, including lighting, between Copse Hill and Cottenham Park Road and agreement to dedicate this footpath as a public highway
  • Agreement to design methods of construction to protect the roots of existing, retained trees
  • A tree planting/landscaping scheme on the built element

The planning officer's report is available on the Merton web site at .

Once the officers had decided to recommend approval we were unlikely to be able to persuade the Committee to go against this, but we had a good try. RAWW, LUNG, NWWRA, Morley Park Trust and DAWE (Drax Avenue residents) all made presentations at the meeting and written submissions in advance of it.  Councillors William Brierly, Samantha George and John Bowcott also spoke very strongly against the application.  All our objections were however ignored by the majority party, and the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the case for the application seemed to go unnoticed by them.

The large number of local residents who attended can have left the Council and the applicant with no doubt about the exceptional strength of local feeling against the application.  Many thanks to all of you who came to the meeting and the many more who have supported the efforts to get a good outcome for this site over many years.

We have lost this round but the fight for this site is not over yet.  We can expect another application when the NHS Trust finally sell the site to a developer.  This current application will help determine the price the developer has to pay and sets a precedent for what can be built.  However the developer may decide he can make more money
by building something different. There will also be lengthy negotiations on what the NHS Trust or developer has to provide for the improvement and maintenance of the open land.

As a first step in the 'next round' we would urge everyone to respond to an article on the Atkinson Morley application in this week's Guardian newspaper.  They are asking everyone to e-mail the paper to express their views on the decision. If you do not get a copy of the Guardian you can see the article on the Wimbledon Guardian web site at  Hundreds Protest Against Plans To Raze Trees And Build New Homes. We are asked to e-mail our views to:

LUNG does not know whether the purchaser will pursue the approved development.  If a different scheme is proposed, then there will be a further planning application and a new S106 will be negotiated. However for now the terms of the signed S106 give the best indication we have of what any subsequent agreement will look like.

In a recent letter to LUNG the Leader of the Council, Councillor Andrew Judge said "As the site has now been sold on, it is unlikely that the approved scheme and Section 106 will be implemented, though of of course any new proposals will have the approved scheme and agreement as a basis for establishing the principles of any new scheme, and in particular the broad content of the agreement is unlikely to change."

As we always knew, the fact that St George's gained planning permission for their scheme does not stop the need for vigilance. The successful developer may simply use the current agreed scheme with few changes and start building. It is entirely possible though that they will use the current application as a minimum agreed for the site and try to get more by either making substantial changes to the design or indeed submitting a new scheme.

The agreement with St Georges and Merton at present has the Trust gifting the freehold of the Metropolitan Open Land to the Borough and in the Section 106 that accompanies the planning agreement, the developer agrees to pay a certain sum to the Borough for the transfer and set up of this MOL as a park. There are all sorts of questions and challenges to be overcome to get the level of funding right so that the area is as self-sufficient of funding as possible. If the new developer uses the St Georges scheme they will be bound in to the Section 106 already agreed. If the developer submits a new scheme, the previous Section 106 is voided, and a new one will need to be negotiated. Obviously Merton will try to hold to the current Section 106 criteria, but the winning developer may not be bound to the gifting of the MOL, unless St Georges agree to hand it over to Merton, while finalising the contract with the successful developer.

We are therefore still maintaining a strong lookout as to the type of scheme that will be built on the Copse Hill section of the AMH site and pursuing with great vigour the securing of the MOL for public benefit into the future.

Please do continue to help us get the best possible outcome for this site



St. George’s Trust is once more trying to push through a consultation process during the summer holidays on amendments to the planning  application for the hospital site. After a seven year battle with the Council and residents, the Trust have still failed to produce a scheme compliant with the Council’s planning brief, and regional and national regulations – yet are trying to use fatigue as the tool to achieve their scheme for over development of the site and dereliction of the open lands.


The NHS Trust submitted the latest application in December 2004. Following a flood of objections this application was never submitted to Committee for decision. This application has now been slightly amended but we have not been able to get electronic copies of the revised drawings. However, the changes are so minor that looking at the December plans as below will still give a very good idea of the NHS Trust's current proposals for the site.

LUNG objections to the amended application include:

  • Amendments do not address major flaws within the scheme. The application still does not comply with planning guidance and regulations.

  • Consultation during summer holidays when many people are away is unacceptable.

  • Access to plans is not available in Wimbledon Library - but only in Merton Civic Centre at Morden (not during week-ends)

  • Consultation letter is deliberately misleading - 30 parking places are allocated ON METROPOLITAN OPEN LAND. No measures are included to protect the open lands.

The application fails to comply with planning guidance and regulations because:

  • 94 New residential units exceed permitted density levels.

  • Affordable housing largely located in two, 4-storey "ghetto" blocks on The Firs site. This sets precedent for Copse Hill to become another Worple Road

  • Car parking provision inadequate and will result in on-street parking locally.

  • Three storey terraced housing conflicts with local pattern of development.

  • 40 protected trees would be lost on the Copse Hill frontage of the hospital site alone.

  • Open space (Metropolitan Open Land) is compromised by construction of buildings right up to the boundary.

  • No access is provided to the open space for families, the elderly or the disabled from the flats or pathway.


* * * * * * * *


LUNG hosted a public meeting King's College School to explain why there are still objections to the latest planning application submitted  by St. George's Trust.

Click to see the Powerpoint slide presentation (be prepared for delays in downloading, especially if you do not have broadband). See further diagrams below.  Click here to see summary of objections

* * * * * * * *


Housing on Firs and Atkinson Morley Hospital sites:
  • Hospital building retained and converted into flats
  • Old AMH lecture theatre converted to a gym
  • 3 storey houses in the grounds of the hospital
  • 2 large blocks of flats and 4 houses on the Firs site (former nurses' home)
  • 94 dwellings in total -- 30 on the Firs, and 64 on AMH site
  • 28 'affordable' dwellings (i.e. social housing) and 66 private
  • 22 of the 28 social housing units are in 2 large blocks of flats on the Firs sites
  • 114 parking spaces for the 94 dwellings on the AMH and Firs sites and for the gym users

Open land to the south of the Firs and AMH sites:

  • The application states the intention that the freehold will pass to Merton Council, and that it is leased to a community trust
  • The application makes no mention of the funding of the restoration and maintenance of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL)
  • All the parking space adjacent to the old pavilion is designated in the planning application for the use of staff at the Wolfson Rehabilitation Centre. This use of the parking would contravene planning guidance for Metropolitan Open Land.  It would also mean that there was no parking space available for the open land

Bus Turning Circle

The bus turning circle is to be relocated, partly in front of the Wolfson, and partly on the Firs site

(NB: Images will print correctly in Landscape view, but please revolve 90 degrees to the right to alter screen view from Portrait to Landscape)
Proposed site plan
Site plan for AMH and Firs
    AMS section  -- east end of site (P1-201) AMH section (through the centre of the site (P1-206)
    Site plan for Firs and the bus stop (P2-103) Firs section -- east/west through 2 blocks and 4 houses (P2-223)
    Type E Copse Hill House -- plans, sections & elevations (PE-001) Type F Atkinson Crescent -- plans, sections & elevations (PF-101)
    Type G Crescent House -- plans, sections & elevations (PG-001) Type J The Firs Block B  -- plans, sections & elevations    (PJ-302)


Will LUNG ever be satisfied with any proposed scheme for this site? It's not about us and what we want.  It is about the fact that the Council has spent a lot of our time and money setting out the sort of criteria for development in the Borough that will make this area still bearable to live in as we go forward into the 21st Century.

In the Council's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) they say how developers should approach conservation areas, Metropolitan Open Land, the density of development in specific areas, and the principles by which Merton will remain a balanced and sustainable community.  On top of this broad set of rules to restrain and guide developers, they have written a "Panning Brief" for this site.  This tells any developer what the basic minimum requirements are within the broader set of rules.

LUNG will be satisfied when applications reflect these hard won principles of sustainable development.  We are holding the Trust and the Council to these planning "rules", and acting as the community's conscience in making them stick.

The NHS Trust have said that this application complies with the Council's Planning Brief, but it does not.  It also fails to comply with other important guidance in the UDP.

Housing development main objections:

  • The development is over-intensive. The redevelopment of the Firs site with two large blocks and four terraced houses sets a precedent in density which would result in blocks of flats being developed throughout the area

The pattern of development locally has been between 5 and 20 dwellings per hectare. The proposals for the Firs is for 60 dwellings per hectare, and 40 dwellings per hectare for the rest of the Hospital site

  • With only 14 places for 94 dwellings and a gym, the planned parking provision is inadequate and less than permitted. Parking would fill the local streets

    The Trust says that the Public Transport Accessibility level for the area is between '2' and '3', and therefore needs less car parking than if it were Level '1'. The UDP, however, rates this area as Level '1'

  • The Trust say that affordable housing is spread throughout the site, and good practice says it should be.  Contrary to this, however, 22 affordable units are crammed into the flats on the Firs site

  • In the planned affordable housing, there are no family homes with gardens

Open land main objections

  • No provision has been made to fund the restoration and future maintenance of the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) as public green space.  This is required in the planning brief.  Without such provision, the proposals are totally unacceptable

  • Parking on the proposed AMH and Firs developments is so limited that it is proposed to take all of the parking at  the playing fields for use by staff of the Wolfson. Planning guidance says that the MOL should not be used for this purpose. Without any public parking, the the new Morley Park would not be viable

Other objections

  • The bus turning circle, to be moved from current site to the front of the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit, will occupy part of the land designated as MOL

  • Parking on the Firs site is also partly located on MOL

  • There are no planned views of open land from Copse Hill through the Firs site

Last updated: 17/06/07