The owners of London’s last remaining dog track have submitted a proposal to turn their stadium into a football ground which could be AFC Wimbledon’s new home.
Merton Council has today received a proposal from the Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA), who own Plough Lane greyhound stadium, which details plans for a 10 to 15,000 seat football stadium.
It also includes leisure facilities, between 450 and 500 homes, and a "substantial" retail store.
It is the first time that the GRA have said they would support a proposal to lose dog racing at the stadium in favour of a football stadium.
In a letter to the council outlining their position, Duncan Parr, director of Savills writing on behalf of the GRA, said that they had submitted their proposal following discussions with the Council and the football club.
It said: "The provision of a football stadium for AFC Wimbledon will represent a return of the club to their historic home after over 20 years.
"The social benefits to the local community for generations to come should not be underestimated."
The proposal would also seek to cater for the wider community with coaching courses offered to young people, a retail store and new homes.
In August the Wimbledon Guardian revealed AFC Wimbledon’s own proposals for the site which included building a stadium big enough to hold 12,000 fans, increasing to 22,000.
The project, which the club has said could take 10 years to complete, would cost somewhere in the region of £100m to build on the five-hectare site.
Should a football stadium be built on the site, AFC Wimbledon could return to Merton after its predecessor, Wimbledon FC, left Plough Lane to ground-share with Crystal Palace in 1991.
A rival proposal to a football stadium has also been submitted by Irish businessman Paschal Taggart who wants to build a new £30m four-tier dog racing stadium with a capacity for 6,000 spectators.
The three visions for the site are in response to Merton Council's ‘call for sites’ - which requested those interested in developing a land site in the borough to set out their ideas in writing to the council.
While no planning applications have been submitted, the council will consider the proposals put forward by the GRA, AFC Wimbledon and Mr Taggart.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of the council, said: "We have tagged the greyhound stadium as a site for sports intensification.
"It could be a football stadium or another bigger and better greyhound stadium, but the sporting intensification part is what is important.
"I wouldn’t rule out a sporting activity such as rugby or two sports sharing together.
"Hopefully the jockeying for position by a number of developers who want to do something with the site will include a football stadium.
"That doesn’t exclude greyhound racing but it’s looking good for AFC Wimbledon."
What happens next?
- Dec 13 - Feb 12, 2013: There will be a public consultation on the 'Call for Sites' submissions;
- The council's Future Merton team will begin "deliverability testing" to evaluate the viability of the various proposals;
- Spring 2013: Results of consultation to be published for public examination;
- Summer 2013: An independent examination of the proposed sites;
- Autumn 2013: A Merton Council cabinet meeting to discuss the council's conclusions and recommendations for Plough Lane and other sites across the borough.
- November 2013 (to be confirmed): A full council meeting at Merton Civic Centre where all councillors can have their say on the proposals to be adopted into the council's official planning policy (the Core Strategy);
- ? Developers must submit formal applications to the council's planning committee, made of a cross-party selection of elected councillors who must look at the application in a quasi-judicial capacity.