This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 26/11/2018.
‘Wimbledon will not become a replica of Croydon’ vows council’s lead planner
But critics accuse councillors of wanting to fill the town with high rise blocks of flats.
Comparisons of Wimbledon’s proposed development to Croydon have been brushed off as nimbyism.
The Future Wimbledon Masterplan was discussed at a full Merton Council meeting on Thursday, November 22.
A motion for full council rather than just cabinet to make a decision on the plans next year, was put forward by Merton Liberal Democrats.
Councillor Simon McGrath said: “The Wimbledon masterplan is a very controversial document which has attracted a great deal of interest from people in Wimbledon.
“It would be fair to say that filling the centre of Wimbledon with 18 storey buildings is not universally popular but this motion isn’t about the content but rather about the process by which it gets approved.
“It is concerning people that it was proposed that the decision to approve the masterplan be made in the cabinet and people in Wimbledon are not convinced that the cabinet will give this decision the consideration it deserves.
“The average length of a cabinet meeting this year is 22 minutes with one of them lasting a total of nine minutes.”
Referring to a tweet by leader of Merton Council leader Cllr Stephen Alambritis, he added: “Few people I’ve spoken to share the belief of the leader of the council that Croydon represents a model of town planning that we should be seeking to emulate.”
The ruling labour party submitted an amended motion which – with a few words removed – agreed that the plan should be voted on by the whole council.
But cabinet member for regeneration, housing and transport, Cllr Martin Whelton, accused some of pandering to a ‘nimby agenda’.
“We must as a council set out a vision, and yes, in places be prepared to be radical,” he said.
“This sets out a vision to 2040 about the town centre and making it an even better place to live, work and learn.
“Critics of the plan have all too readily bandied Croydon around and that our proposals will make it a similar place.
“I happen to think that the regeneration of Croydon is actually a good thing but Wimbledon is not going to become a replica – We have our own identity and we intend to keep it that way.
“We can oppose all too easily and sadly there are some in this chamber who have pandered to the NIMBY agenda. This seeks to portray anyone who makes changes as seeking to destroy the heritage of Wimbledon, whilst harking back to a bygone era that never was, with the delusions and fantasies.
“As a council we think Wimbledon can, in places, take high rise buildings built to the high architectural standards which can be welcome additions to the skyline.”
The Labour amended motion was backed unanimously by the council.
Consultation on the draft Future Wimbledon Masterplan is open until January 6 and it is expected to be adopted next summer.
The masterplan area covers the town centre stretching to Wimbledon Hill Road in the west and Merton Road in the east, covering more than 40 hectares in total.
Have your say and get full details of the plans here.