Last-minute boost for Merton Council's Dundonald primary school expansion plan
A key obstacle standing in the way of the council’s plans to expand a primary school appears to have been removed ahead of a decision to approve it by councillors tonight.
Merton Council’s application to expand Dundonald Primary School in Fairlawn Road, Wimbledon, will be judged by councillors at a planning committee meeting on at Merton Civic Centre.
The application was registered in April 2012 and has met fierce opposition by campaigners who are against plans to redevelop on Dundonald Recreation Ground.
The government agency Sport England had also objected to the scheme because of its concern public sporting facilities would be lost, such as the bowling green and public access to the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), which can be used for tennis and netball.
Their continued objection would have meant, even if councillors approved the application, it would automatically be referred to the Government to ajudicate.
But on Tuesday, Dale Greetham from Sport England said they were now prepared to support the application, subject to a formal Community Use Agreement which says in writing the public can use the MUGA outside of school hours.
In a letter to the council, Mr Greetham said: “Although the existing bowling green would be lost, it has been confirmed by [the council] in writing, that the existing members of Wandsgas Bowls Club can be accommodated by the nearby Merton Park Bowling Club (John Innes Park, Mostyn Road, Merton Park).
“The existing adjacent playing field would be unaffected by the proposed development and therefore existing playing pitch provision would be maintained.
“On the basis of the above assessment, Sport England considers that the potential sports development benefits that the new MUGA and pavilion would offer would outweigh the detriment caused by the impact on existing sports facilities.”
Dundonald Rec Tennis club has complained the council’s planning application contains “erroneous claims” regarding how the tennis courts are used and that a survey of users should have been included among the documents to be considered by councillors.
The survey asked for the views of tennis court users about future plans for a “tennis Olympic legacy” and how they would react to the Community Use Agreement, as described by Sport England.
Tina Dunkin, the club secretary, said: “It was agreed during the meeting with Sport England and council representatives that it was important to consider the views of tennis players before taking any decision about the future of the courts.
“Now that this information is available to them, they have turned their back on it.
“Sport England is fully aware of Merton Council’s attempts to obstruct our mission to bring tennis to Dundonald Rec.
“We are not even allowed to advertise our sport events on the notice boards around the Rec.
“We are concerned that the council is trying to ensure the tennis courts are unused, to give them to excuse to force us out of the Rec, just as they did with the bowling club.”