Friday, 27 May 2016

Mini (and Maxi) Soccer School

As the summer does it's best to try and reach us, the green shoots of the next football season are quietly pushing their way through the earth in the form of football trials and training for the new season.

One very positive aspect of this is the Mini Soccer School, for children aged 4 to 6 every Saturday morning 9-10.30am at our very own Worcester Park Football Club. For those who weren't sure - that's all part of the athletics and general sports club on Green Lane. It so happens that young WP Junior goes to school with a couple of lads whose Dad helps run the Mini Soccer School (thanks Tim for the info). And just like the New Malden Little League, I would encourage local young people to get involved. These are fun football sessions for only £5 pay as you go.

For those who don't quite fit the criteria of being between 4 and 6, there are age group from under 7 through to under 16. The person to speak to about all this is Leslie Thomas who can be contacted on 07901 584 989.

The club are also running three adult (over 18) teams next season and are looking for local players to add to the squads. Pre season training/trials start 28th June over at Manor Park.

For more information on all these things, please see their website here.

Alley Pig Walk

Before May flips over into June I should use up my pictures of the second part of the Pigs Alley upgrade.

The first part which ran from November 2014 'til May last year was the section that runs between Trafalgar Avenue and The end of Boscombe Road.

This new section was the other 'half' which runs from the End of Boscombe Road, behind the Hamptons and to the top of Green Lane where the Horse stables are (worth a walk if you've not been up that way - and especially now that there's a nice path to walk along).

The work began toward the end of January and was completed at the end of April.

If like me, you were one of few people who tried to navigate a bike down this path prior to this work being done - during the winter - you will appreciate the improvements to cyclability.

You can see here on the right, the beginnings of the work in this section with the path closed off. Like the top and bottom pictures here - of it finished, these two on the right show the path from both ends.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Trial By Football

I've been a bit busy of late and the blog has had to go on the back burner for a short while - however I couldn't resist putting this up. Getting kids involved in stuff like sport is so important so I wanted to make sure this got out there. You can take them along tomorrow (Saturday 14th) or next Saturday. Their website is: Don't click on the one in the picture above because... it's just a picture.

Normal service should be resumed shortly now that much of the busy stuff has subsided - there's still a little bit to go though...

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Royal Business

This evening sees the third instalment of the Worcester Park Business Networking Event at the Royal British Legion. It is a free, informal gathering of representatives of small and large businesses who live and/or operate in the Worcester Park, and North Cheam, areas.

The first one was back in September 2015 and was very successful, leading to event number two in January. Hopefully there should be a reasonable turnout tonight as well. There is always someone interesting to talk there so if you are finding a slight interest in this, take the plunge and turn up... (And you can have a drink too!)

Update (Later in the evening)

For a flavour of the event, Helen Overton organised a photo of the group of us, shown here below. We almost look dignified...

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Easter Winds

I had a bit of a wander round on Easter Monday afternoon to see what damage may have been done after the strong winds of the previous 24 or so hours. Luckily the damage wasn't as bad as the recentish great storm of October 2013, however for a few unlucky people there was a bit of damage about.

This car in Woodlands Avenue (above) was lucky to escape major damage from this fallen tree which blocked the pavement and also brought down the telephone lines (left).

Another home (not saying where) had most of their back fence (and a rosemary bush) blown down.

Monday afternoon was itself still very windy as this bit of video below shows. I was getting a bit worried about this traffic light (opposite Pizza Express).


Hopefully not too many others were affected.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Moggie Needs Meds

I have been informed about a cat out there that needs to be found before her medication wears off. Details below:

Name: Zoe or Zots
Description: Black small female cat with nick out of right ear, shaved patches on each of her sides, her stomach and her front left paw.
Last seen: Monday 28th at around 2pm, Washington Road, high street end.
"Please could you check your sheds and garages, she needs medication and never misses meals."
They we have only had her for about 6 months and are getting a bit worried. Please contact Patt Foad: 07743 226 652 or Leo Foad: 07707 585 394 if found.

Update (31st March)


Zoe has been located and brought safely back home. According to her owners:
"She was in an empty house with a catflap that wasn't locked properly so it allowed her in but not out again. She has had her medicine with her food today and is scheduled for the vet tomorrow for her treatment. 
Apart from a couple of pounds lost she is no worse for wear and we would like to thank everyone who shared the blog post and looked for her, it meant so much to know that we weren't the only ones looking. 
It makes us very happy to live in Worcester Park."
Thanks everyone who helped. It's nice when something works out well in the end.

Bigger Issue

At a recent WPRA (Worcester Park Residents Association) meeting, the issue was raised about the new plans to convert the old Bank Chambers at 2-4 Green Lane into flats. Whilst most people were relived that this suggested the plans for the Place of Worship would not be going ahead after all (the owners having fought tooth and nail against the community to gain permission for it) some were worried that after the building was extended, they might realise the permission for a Place of Worship and create and even bigger one. If the already bad parking and traffic issues in the immediate vicinity would get worse with a limited place of worship, a bigger one there would create problems off the scale!

As Chair of the WPRA, I asked local councillors to look into this possibility and Cllr Hookway organised a meeting for himself, Cllr Marston and me to discuss the possibilities with council planning officers. Please feel free to read a more detailed account of this on the WPRA website.

The good news that came back from this meeting is that building flats on the site automatically revokes the permission to turn the site into a Place of Worship. The other good news (in case the flats don't happen) is that there is no automatic permission for a Place of Worship granted after the 4 year temporary permission is up - a whole new planning application would be required for it to continue as a Place of Worship. People can breath a sigh of relief about both of these things.

Now this process all began before we knew the site was being put up for sale which may add yet another dimension to the long saga. As it happens, the auction is tomorrow (Wednesday 30th March). The planning decision for the flats is not expected until after that. So the new owner (assuming it sells) may or may not end up with planning permission for flats but could conceivably turn it into a Place of Worship for the next three and a bit years...

Update (31st March)

Well it seems we're back where we were. A message from Allsop says:
"Please note the above property did not sell in yesterday’s auction and is now available at £700,000."
For anyone interested in this rather well known site, the message added:
"If you are interested in this property please do not hesitate to contact / 0207 344 2614"
As it happens, the site was also refused planning permission for the conversion to 5 flats. And so we wait to see what happens next...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Vic House Petition

Simon Densley and Alan Plant in front of Victoria House, North Cheam
Yesterday I spent a short while with Alan Plant (Chapra Chair) and others across the road from Victoria House gathering petition signatures against the proposed new development of Victoria House.

This might come across as a bit of an anomaly, given the state of the current Victoria House building. But whilst it would be easy to accept any development as being better than what is currently there, we don't want to end up with another awful situation for the next 50 years and unfortunately the proposed new development (left) which will be there for many decades to come, is not nearly good enough for the local area for several reasons.

Firstly, as a collection of tower blocks it is an ugly design that is completely out of keeping with the art deco architecture on the three other corners of this major North Cheam intersection.

Steve O'Connell letter about parking from Croydon AdvertiserSecondly and perhaps more importantly, with 90 residential units and only 55 car parking spaces (of which 10 are shared with the public), the new design does not offer anywhere near enough car parking for the number of people that will be living there. People generally do not just give up their cars when moving into a place without dedicated car parking and so it is expected that additional cars will be parked in the surrounding streets. Our London Assembly Member, Steve O'Connell put it rather well in this letter (right) from the Croydon Advertiser on February 19th about a similar issue in Croydon.

Anyone who lives anywhere near the proposed collection of tower blocks knows that there is very little scope for additional parking in the area. One of the nearby streets, Wellington Avenue, which a council report suggested could accommodate extra cars from the development already has controlled parking areas and yellow lines and is in no way in a position to accommodate more cars. Lingfield Road is in a similar position.

It so happens that McMillan House, the large building on the left as you approach the North Cheam lights from WP, has been undergoing conversion from offices to residential accommodation and several hundred people are expected to move in here. This will also add to the number of cars needing somewhere to park in the local area.

McMillan House, being a direct conversion from office space to residential was not subject to development control is the same way as many conversions require as there were no planned changes to the exterior or structural work. It therefore falls under permitted development, which makes it harder for the council to insist on addition parking space or other alterations.

So with a large number of extra cars expected in the area, a large development that greatly contributes to that additional number, needs to provide at least enough parking to accommodate it's own share of the increase. The new proposal simply doesn't do this.

Ideally, given Victoria House's position at North Cheam cross-roads, in the middle of a retail area, it should also provide car parking to help shoppers shop locally. The previous planning application did exactly this which was one of the reasons I supported it. It offered time limited parking for shoppers which reverted to unlimited parking in the evenings for guests and visitors.

This new application, which can be seen on the council website, does provide 10 public spaces but with only 45 spaces provided specifically for the residents, it is expected these spaces will be almost constantly taken up by either residents or employees of the retails shops on the ground floor. There are planned spaces for 3 motorbikes and a whopping 96 bicycles, and while I am all in favour of cycle parking and encouraging people to cycle, I suspect that the 96 spaces might include a large dollop of wishful thinking.

Given that we will be stuck with whatever is built there for as long time, it is important enough to get the design right to make the call when it just isn't good enough. (It's even worth repeating things I wrote in my blog post from two days ago...)

For those who would like to sign the petition, Steve in Steve's Card Shop is looking after it so you can just pop in and sign next time you are passing by.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Launching Campaign With A Splash

Many Worcester Parkers enjoy a wander up past Green Lane School and through (between) the fields of horses down to Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Park. There is a good children's play area there as well as other facilities for the little'uns which currently include a paddling pool which opens for six weeks during the summer.

It's a rather old pool, build in the 1930's and the council can't keep up the maintenance costs which can be over £10,000 per year. Friends of the Park have been pleading with the council to keep it open for one more year whilst they try to raise funds of £270,000 to replace the pool.

The council are backing the project but say they will only donate 10% of the funds if the remainder can be raised. The Splash Pad has been fully costed and surveyed and would be ready to be built on receipt of the funds. The new Splash Pad would be more efficient, cleaner, safer and benefit from a remote facility to turn the water jets on giving the community more flexibility of opening times.

The council in question is Merton council - slightly confusingly, this is the one bit of the local area not in either Sutton, Kingston or Epsom & Ewell. Technically it's Motspur Park (so not actually WP) - and a short walk from Motspur Park station.

Back to the main issue now - Today therefore sees the launch of the campaign to raise the funds for the new Splash Pad. The 'Splashdance' campaign launch (beginning at 2pm) will feature local West End Choreographer, Lizzi Gee, who will be teaching the community a “Splash Dance” in the disused paddling pool. Organisers will be inviting members of the community to show their support for the pool by learning the “Splash Dance” and teaching it to their friends. SWL TV will be filming the event and there will be prizes for the most enthusiastic community Splash Dancers. There will also be other goodies and attractions to entice you (and the kids) down (or is it up?)

Friend of Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Fields, Sarah Thorne said:
“We would love to see all the people in the surrounding boroughs who have ever made use of this wonderful facility come together to take positive action. We have already had a petition with over 1000 names for the council to fund a Splash Pad here, but as we are utilised by other boroughs outside of Merton, it seems the council do not want to fund the Splash Pad here. This park is surrounded by numerous schools, youth groups, families with young children not to mention those who have used the pool for generations and now have grandchildren of their own who want to use it. If we don’t act now then the pool will inevitably close and be filled in. This will be one less facility to draw children into the open-air keeping them active, alert and engaged. We want to show people that we aren’t going to just give in.
The Community can continue to show the council and potential funders that we need this facility by joining in our Splash Dance campaign. If they can’t come to the event then they can Like and share our Facebook page where they will also be able to learn the “Splash Dance” if they miss it live. We want to get people to demonstrate that we need this facility and this seems like an active and fun way to get some further engagement. At the very minimum we hope to persuade the council to re-open the pool for one last Summer to remind people what we will be missing”
So if you want to see the aquatic facilities continue, or even if you're just at a loose end this afternoon, please pop down and support the cause for local children.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Not Amused At New Proposal

Just over two week ago, Home Group submitted the formal plans for their multi tower block replacement of Victoria House to Sutton Council. As I have said before, I'm rather less than happy with the design - it certainly hasn't changed much since in the year since they first unveiled their plans. So much for listening to local opinion.

Above is the latest picture, available of the Home Group website. This is as wonderful as this building will ever look. And while this is better than the awful eyesore that currently resides on this corner, the bar is very low and the improvement, marginal. After half the foliage has died and and the litter built up I fear this building will soon etch itself on the local psych as the 'building that could have been'. It will come be seen as the ugly blot whose only redeeming feature was the fact that what it replaced was even worse.

Not only does it look awful, but there are several other reason why it is not suitable for the local area. Now before anyone starts saying I'm just against any major proposal here, I was all in favour of the Stonegate proposal; in fact I joined local people in gathering petition signatures to ask to council to approve the plan at the time. It wasn't perfect but it was a good compromise which broadly reflected the local art deco architecture and crucially it had a decent amount of off street parking.

But to get back to those other reasons (one of which I have already hinted at), I will hand over to Alan Plant, chair of the local CHAPRA (Church Hill, Abbots, Priory) Residents' Association who has set out his personal objections as:
  1. Insufficient parking for residents of the development within the Victoria House Site
  2. Insufficient or no parking for employees of retail establishments on the Victoria house site
  3. Insufficient or no  parking for shoppers to the 4 new retail outlets on the Victoria house site
  4. Is there parking for Artisans white Transit vans , who may reside in new development?
  5. The height of the building is out of Character with the rest of North Cheam’s architecture. Maybe 4 to 6 storeys would work and that would help with the parking.
  6. With a potential of 282 occupants coupled with those from other developments in the immediate area, Office/shop conversation existing planning permission etc. you are looking at a population increase of about 1000 within two years within a half mile radius ,which could be as high as a 10% increase . When there is only one NHS GP surgery within ½ miles radius of the development not a potential 12 as indicated in supporting documentation, most of these being near Sutton and unlikely to take patients from North Cheam, apart from being an inconvenient distance when one is ill . Coupled with overloading other infrastructure, will have an adverse effect on the amenity of existing residents and an over-development of the area within current infrastructure facilities.

The near 1000 extra people in the area refers not only to this development but also the nearby Mc Millan House development in Cheam Common Road and several other smaller local developments. All these people are going to need parking, health and education facilities nearby.

Alan has organised a petition against the proposal and will be hosting a stall with some helpers on the pavement outside Steve's Card Shop on the opposite corner tomorrow (Saturday) morning (9:30 - 1:30). They'll be offering more information and the chance to sign the petition. Please go along and show your support. (I am planning to pop down to offer some help too.)

Please feel free to object to (or support) this application by going to the council planning website and making your feelings known. Alan and the helpers will be on hand tomorrow morning to help explain the process too if necessary.

For those who get excited by the smell of detail, Alan has included some additional information to substantiate his objections about the parking (points 1-4):

  • Erroneous Parking provision survey, which suggest 18 parking places in Lingfields when there is only 9 sensibly.
  • 23 parking places in Wellington Ave when it is a residents parking street just to mention two.
  • Church Hill road is deemed a main Distributor road by Sutton Council with in service bus in one direction 24 hours a day and out of service 93,151 and 213 in both directions, yet it is seen as an overflow parking facility. When in fact parking will cause delays to public transport, deterioration of the atmosphere due to traffic congestion, and an adverse effect on the amenity of existing residents. Not a very practical solution, which should be tackled within the V H site.
  • The application of a PTAL 3 rating to North Cheam which only has bus transport and nearest mainline station has 1.3Miles away, whereas Cheam Village has a lower PTAL 2 which is serviced by buses and a mainline station. This would appear to be incorrect or applied so that a less than one parking place per flat is the guide in North Cheam instead of a minimum of one.
  • Furthermore it was stated by Richard Green Planning manager in a letter of 27th October 2015 that there is limited capacity in the surrounding streets, with a suggestion to enter an S106 agreement. Has this been done? I do not see it ?--As included in the supporting documentation, although not presented in a very orderly way.
  • In the transport statement I wish to highlight the note 6.1.5 : "Planning permission will be granted for development proposed with limited or no parking provided the Council is satisfied that this will not result in an increase in on street parking which would adversely affect traffic flows, bus movements, road safety, or the amenity of local residents or the environment" ---which it clearly does.
  • I disagree with the statement 6.2.16  final paragraph. In the transport statement, (this may not be the only one I disagree with).

The full plans and document can be seen here (to which much of this refers to), but you'll need to tick the agreement box and proceed once you hit this page. There are numerous documents to wade through and no easy way to find what you're looking for (although hovering over each document icon will at least give you it's name) but that is unfortunately the nature of planning proposals.

We have lived with the current Victoria House eyesore for decades. In the grand scheme of things a couple more years won't matter if means we end up with the right replacement building here, not the wrong one, as this clearly is. It is going to be a local landmark for a long time and have a major effect on the local area. So it's important to get it right.