Saturday, 17 December 2016

Victoria House Saga Continues

As many people are now aware, new plans have been submitted for the re-development for Victoria House up at the North Cheam crossroads. When I say 'new plans', actually the proposal looks almost the same as the previous plan, which was withdrawn without explanation earlier this year. The main difference seems to be the retail units having been made a bit bigger.

So we're finally going to lose the eyesore that has blighted the crossroads for years. Yes that's one good argument. However how is the new plan going to affect the area?

The new plan - shown above right, is effectively a group of tower blocks - almost the ugliest possible design, universally known as the greatest attractor of antisocial behaviour. It doesn't fit in with the art deco design of the buildings on the other three corners of the cross roads or other buildings in the area.

Perhaps we could 'get used' to this design on our doorstep - all 10 storeys of it. But could we also get used to the over-spill of cars? This building is to have 90 residential units, a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed-roomed affairs. How many car parking spaces would you think are needed to cater for 90 such flats? If you think fifty or less you probably don't use local public transport very much. But guess what - the answer is indeed 50! In fact it is closer to 45 as five of those spaces are for the retail units.

Now to compensate there are around 150 bicycle parking spaces. I seem to remember another recent planning application in Green Lane where we were told that 'everyone would arrive on bicycles' and so we needn't worry about the chronic shortage of parking spaces. Perhaps this plan has been put together by the same people? Just one question - are they deluded about the number of people who own/use cars (perhaps vs those who only cycle) or is this their attempt to socially engineer a little portion of North Cheam into a anti-car paradise?
PTAL map of Worcester park / North Cheam - click to enlarge

So what does it take for people to want to ditch the car?

Not very far away there are indeed areas where few people own cars. Areas where I would quite happy live without a vehicle. This area is called Central London. The reason we don't need cars there is a) the plethora of excellent public transport to get you to nearly anywhere local quickly, and b) nearly every type of shop imaginable within walking distance.

The relative convenience of public transport has all been nicely mapped out and corresponds to a number of 'PTAL values' (I promise not to get any more technical than this). There are nine values basically going from 0 (being almost nonexistent public transport) up to 6b - being transport so convenient you'd prefer it to using a car. (See the full London PTAL map here). The whole of central London is either PTAL 6a or 6b - indicating the most convenient public transport possible. Sections of Worcester Park are 0 (worst possible) most of the area is 1a (really awful) with areas mostly around main bus routes being around 2 (not quite as awful). There happen to be a couple of small islands in the area of PTAL 3 (which on an exam might almost scrape a pass). Victoria House happens to sit just inside the smallest of these.

I don't think you need to be a genius to work out that the best way to get people to use public transport is to increase the convenience of public transport to the point where it is preferable to car use. Deliberately discouraging car use by limiting car parking spaces to around half of what is needed without offering a genuine alternative is not 'visionary'. It's just stupid and will result in people looking for other places to put their cars. Those other places will be the very few spaces around North Cheam that still exist in side streets and around the shops. That means that a) other people who live in the area will have even less space for their own cars, and b) the people who currently shop in North Cheam and use their car to get there will soon realise that trying to park in North Cheam is a pointless exercise and will go elsewhere, leading to fewer customers in the shops there. This means that instead of reinvigorating North Cheam, this development will be an additional (if not final) nail in it's coffin.

A counter argument might be the parking available in the Sainsburys car park - and I'd agree that more needs to be done to let the public know that they can easily get to the North Cheam shops from here but it's not like parking just at the shop you want to visit. And it's existence hasn't been enough to make North Cheam a vibrant shopping area. Making the parking situation even worse isn't going to somehow fix the problem.

Now it's easy to say that this plan is better than the eyesore currently on the site (you may agree or disagree with this statement). However the point is, it's not merely one or the other. We have already seen a far better plan put forward for this area.

On the left here is the proposal put forward by Stonegate Homes. I personally knocked on doors with a petition in favour of this development (so this is not just a knee-jerk reaction against any local development.) Yes, this was still a tall development, and bigger than we would have liked, but it was generally in keeping with local art-deco design and crucially it had enough parking space for residents plus extra space for shoppers during the day and then for visitors in the evening. Also it wasn't a group of tower blocks. In short it would have improved the area, not diminished it.

For these reasons two local residents' associations have joined forces to fight against this latest proposal. Chapra RA (Church Hill and Priory Road Residents' Association) and the WPRA (Worcester Park Residents' Association), which I currently chair, have organised a leaflet which we are delivering to homes near the site and also a petition.

As this is a new proposal, all previous comments/objections (or letters of support) are no longer relevant and only comments specifically based on this new proposal will be taken into account by the planning department.

So if you would like to object, comment on, or even write in support of the proposal, the planning application number is A2016/75951 which can be accessed on, or by using the following direct link.

You can also write directly to:
The London Borough of Sutton Planning Division
24 Denmark Rd
Surrey SM5 2JG
Remember to quote planning number A2016/75951.

The petition is being held in Steve's Card Shop on the North West corner of the crossroads - opposite Victoria House if you'd like to go in and sign it.

We also have a small number on volunteers out delivering leaflets and also door knocking to gather petition signatures. Please contact Simon Densley at the WPRA - if you'd like to join them and they'll get you some leaflets or petition sheets and allocate you some roads to do. We need to be quick though - the deadline is at the beginning of January.

We hope that with two local residents' associations working together, our combined voices will be heard loud and clear. Yes we want the existing building removed, but we want it replaced with something that will enhance the quality of the local area - not something that in 10 years time might be as hated as much as the exiting Victoria House is now.

So please make your voice heard by emailing or writing to Sutton's planning department and please feel free to get in touch to either deliver leaflets or to knock on doors to get petition signatures. And yes if you completely disagree with me about all this, that's fine - you can write in to support the application.

Hopefully though we'll get the sort of development we need at the North Cheam cross roads. We've waited many years for a proper development. I'd say a couple more years to ensure we get the right one will be worth the wait in the long run - especially when we're looking back at what we did about this particular proposal.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Green Trees

Have you got your Christmas Tree yet? If not, this Saturday is your opportunity to both fill that gap in your life (and your lounge-room) and support a local school!

As the sign says, Green Lane Primary School will be selling trees from 10 'til 2 this Saturday (10th December). Like last year Ross Fruiterers will be supplying the trees and donating a large percentage of the profits back to the school.

As Tanya from Green Lane told the blog:
"The trees range in price from £22.50-£39.00 so come and pick yours! You can also reserve your tree by emailing The school's Christmas tree has also been kindly donated by Ross."
So you get a tree and the local kids get a better education - well that's the sort of idea anyway...

Monday, 5 December 2016

Flick O' The Switch

Sticking steadfastly to Christmas themes... The Great Hamptons Christmas Tree Light Up is taking place this Saturday (10th December) at 5:30pm at the top of the hill in the Hamptons (That's Mayflower Park to those in the know...)

This year the lights are being switched on by Paul Scully, our local MP and there will be free mince pies and mulled wine for all (wow!), sponsored by Waitrose and Ivygate, plus carols and festive music.

Everyone from the Hamptons and the whole of Worcester Park is welcome, if not out-rightly encouraged to be there.

The tree is a 25ft Norway Pine sited on the Viewing Circle at the top of Mayflower Park. When lit, it will be visible to most of Worcester Park.

Brighten up your Christmas at The Hamptons on 10th December!

Update (a week later)

Well the rain almost held out and many people turned up for the great light up.

As promised there was plenty of mulled wind, mince pies and others mini gastronomic delights to enjoy.

This year the countdown and switch on was down at Maple Lodge due to the unpredictability of the weather - which worked out well as it was close to the supply of aforementioned gastronomic delights.

Local MP Paul Scully did the honours after getting the children (with everyone joining in) to do a countdown.

The lights went on according to plan. People ooed, ahhred, clapped and made their way up to the tree which can now be seen from many parts of Worcester Park.

The Picture here on the right of the tree with the moon directly above was taken by local Hamptons photographer Michael Leonard. You can see much of his other work adorning Maple Lodge and other places including a couple of large pictures in Natwest in Central Road!

Christmas Late Night

Worcester Park's famous Christmas Late Night is coming up this Friday (9th December). And whilst this is our traditional night for Christmas festival atmosphere and fun it's worth remembering that this was first set up to allow people to have a night when they can shop locally and do their Christmas shopping without having to go off to Kingston or elsewhere.

We've recently had a few new shops open (I'll get round to covering these soon...) so the high street is surviving but we've had few higher profile places close as well. The high street needs your support to survive and thrive. This night is our local shops trying to make Christmas more convenient for us. Let's return the favour by spending our money locally and helping to keep the area thriving!

This year's event will be a bit scaled back compared to the last few years. Tracy from Cycle Power and Brendan from Pet's Place who have more or less organised it between them for the last few years wanted to step down this year and asked for other volunteers back in the summer to help run it. As nobody stepped forward, it looked as if it might not happen. However they have manged to find the time to still put the event on. As Tracy told the blog:
"Traders are staying open late, we have a choir (maybe 2), funfair and the Christmas arcade. Waitrose are sponsoring the annual colouring comp. Cycle Power have a competition going. Prizes will be handed out to the best times on the Tcax turbo trainer against the virtual velodrome."
It should still be a pretty good night and most importantly, it's a chance to support your local businesses while getting your Christmas shopping sorted out. And given that it's all been organised by local volunteers - it's better than not having anything at all!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Fairs And Tree Sales

As we hurtle towards the silly season like an out of control sleigh, the succession of Christmassy things to keep us occupied continues. Tomorrow is the Dorchester Primary Christmas Fair and on Saturday, the 4th WP scouts are having their Christmas Fair and tree sale. Cheam Santa is also out and about - tomorrow is the evening he visits roads between Central Road and Browning Avenue. Tonight was from Ruskin Drive through to Boscombe Road (in Dorchester Road when I went past)... previous report undated to reflect this...

Next Friday (9th December) is the famous annual Worcester Park Christmas Late Night with the Saturday (10th) being the Hamptons Christmas Tree Lights Switch On. More info to follow...

Father Christmas Out And About

If you live between Central Road and Browning Avenue, head out to see Father Christmas (aka Cheam Santa) tomorrow evening (Friday 2nd December) and help raise money for Cheam and Sutton Rotary.

He starts at around 6pm and should be going 'til about 8:30.

For other area, keep an eye on their facebook page...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Things To Do Today

There are lots of things to do today. Almost all of them Christmas related. Get in...

There are also still a few tickets available for the 'The Dragon of Wantley' pantomime. I've got my tickets...

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Remember Them

The annual Armistice day remembrance service is taking place tomorrow (Sunday November 13), led as usual by the Royal British Legion.

It begins with a 10am service at Christchurch with St Phillips, then a short service including two minute silence at the war memorial at top of Central Road. Afterwards at around 11.15am there will be a parade along Central Road (featuring, I am told, a 10 piece marching band) down to the Royal British Legion.

The Legion is then open to everyone for refreshments, a buffet by the women’s section and live music by the DDay Darlings.

As usual it should be a day to remember...

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Charity Christmas Party

I guess the Christmas events notifications have well and truly begun and so herein is another one.

The Emily Ash Trush, a charity based in New Malden which helps improve the lives of children with cancer is putting on a Family Christmas Party at the Holy Cross Church Hall, Adela Avenue, KT3 6LF on Saturday 3rd December from 12 'til 2pm.

Tickets for the event are also on sale now at £5 per family entry.

As part of the celebration, the trust has accumulated a sack full prizes and is having silent auction to distribute them. (Shh!)

The prizes are:

  • Chelsea Soccer School Place RRP £105
  • London Duck Tours Family Ticket RRP £75
  • Snakes and Ladders Soft play 1 adult and 5 children RRP £ 50 ( two available.. perfect birthday party! )
  • Family entry to Hobbledown RRP £44
  • White Spider Climbing session for 6 RRP £111
  • One Term of swimming lessons for January start with Colin Bull RRP £150 ( two available )
  • Dick Wittington at New Wimbledon Theatre Family ticket RRP £100+
  • Delta Force Paintball party for 10 RRP £100

They are also holding a raffle with more prizes(£5 per ticket): 
  • Family entry to London Wetlands centre £35
  • 2 children Birdworld £28
  • 2 children Drusillas £37
  • Kew Gardens £30
  • Little Bears Soft play £10
  • Swim at Guildford lido £6.20
  • Swim at Guildford Spectrum £22.10
  • Lookout discovery Centre £19.60
  • Bocketts Farm £19
  • Dodge ball Family Party £40
  • Ice Rink at Nat History Museum £25
  • Chelsea Soccer School Place £105
  • Delta Force Paintball party for 10 £100
  • One terms swimming lessons £150
  • and many more...

Contact Nickie Murtagh on  07547 628 531 for a ticket to the event, for raffle tickets or to place your bids !

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Malden Parochial Fireworks

Also tonight...

Scouts Fireworks


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Panto Time

Almost three years ago to the day I first wrote about the Worcester Park Dramatic Society, which at the time I had never before crossed paths with. I am glad to say that this time round they have contacted to blog to tell me about their latest production 'The Dragon of Wantley' which I am reliably informed is "a pantomime for the whole family!" Cue: "Oh no it isn't!" "Oh yes it is!" etc...

What I am really pleased about is the fact that such an organisation exists locally. Having done some amateur dramatics in my youth (and some professional if you call being an extra in 'Neighbours' professional) I have a rather soft spot such groups and some of them are extremely professional in their our look and the quality of their work (even if not in the true sense of the word.)

WP Junior #1 is just the right age to enjoy some panto like this so I will look to take him along on the Saturday.

Ahh yes the dates... There are four performances, all at the Adrian Mann Theatre, Nescot (Reigate Road, Ewell, KT17 3DS) on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th November at 7.30pm and Saturday 26th November at 11am and 4pm. Tickets are £11 with concessions available. Book tickets through the WPDS at Ticket Source.

... he's behind you...

Green Lane Fire Works

Green Lane Firework Spectacular bonfire night

It’s a family friendly professional firework display where we showcase Green Lane School at its best. A real community event where you can bring family and friends, have supper together at our great value BBQ and let your children glow with our amazing choice of glow products.

On Friday 4th November, 6-8pm (fireworks at 7pm). 
On the gate adults cost £7 and children £5 (3-12), under 3s are free and family of 4 is £22.
Address: Green Lane Primary & Nursery School, Green Lane, KT4 8AS

Tickets are available from Trutex and Ross Fruiterers!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Hamptons Fireworks


Following the spectacular Hamptons Fireworks in 2015 which attracted a crowd of around 3,000, the Hamptons are mounting a similar event in Mayflower Park, The Hamptons this Sunday, the 6th November.

Entry is free and the event is open to the whole of Worcester Park.

There will be a pop-up market from 3.30pm to 6.30pm called ‘Made in the Hamptons’ featuring local businesses.  Plus a small Fun Fair and other attractions, including candy floss, mulled wine and the world-famous Hamptons Hot Dogs, to entertain and occupy visitors in the run up to the display. 

The Mega-Display starts at 5.30pm.

It is best to walk, but if you come by car there is parking on Green Lane only.

The event is kindly sponsored by grants from TVHA and the London Borough of Sutton.

Christmas Tree Festival

The Christ Church with St Philip Christmas Tree Festi - "BUT WAIT", I hear you cry - , "It's still October!" Well yes I was going to hold off a bit but this requires a bit of community participation before the event.

Sponsors are being asked for, for each of the trees to help raise money for the Church and also for St Raphael's Hospice. Volunteers are also being sought to help out ahead of the Festival.

So back to where I was... The Christ Church with St Philip Christmas Tree Festival is being held for the first time this year, from the 9th 'til the 11th December and will feature lots of fun and Christmassy stuff. See Below for details...

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Well Well Well HG

This month sees HG Wells' 150th birthday (the man, not the pub) and for most of October, there have been events and activities marking the occasion in Worcester Park.

Local community activist, Richard Johnson has been instrumental in organising some of these, including his trade mark kid's colouring competition. He also organised a collection of new HG Wells books and a display in the Library, having gained sponsorship from local traders.

As Richard has so well put it:
"Today is the culmination of all things Wellsian.

Professor Dominic Wells (great-grandson of H.G.) is due to arrive at WP Library about 11am. He will meet up with Mayor George Crawford of Cuddington Ward, in Epsom & Ewell, (where H.G. actually lived). And together with a volunteer from Diabetes UK (the charity co-founded by H.G.), they will judge the art and colouring competitions.

They will present the prizes to the award winners of ‘the Argonauts of the Air’ flying aeroplane competition about Noon and (if we can get hold of them at short notice) the winners of the other competitions too.

If you are passing, please come in and say hello… we can’t meet H.G. but we can meet his DNA!"
Richard also runs a Worcester Park Facebook page called the "Worcester Park Community Page" which has recently been more on top of reporting local events than I have (time is much consumed by having two young children!). So I would recommend paying his site a visit as well as this blog! I have suggested to Richard that he make direct contributions to the blog but so far I have yet to convince him...

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Doing The Business

Just a quick reminder that tonight there is another local business networking event at the Royal British Legion. It is on until 8pm so still plenty of time to pop along.

Items up for discussion include the Worcester Park BID proposal and possibly some discussion on Heathrow expansion and even Brexit!

Friday, 30 September 2016

End Of An Era

The last two Edwardian Villa's from the set which used to dominate the South Western side of central Road have now, as of two weeks ago become a pile of rubble.

The semi-detached pair which housed Vivash Hunt solicitors until late 2015 has been set for demolition for a while. Plans to build a modern block of flats completely out of keeping with the local character were opposed by local residents after a campaign by local resident Richard Johnson (yes that's a whole lot of local) to keep the villas intact, and perhaps use them for a well needed doctor's surgery in the area - which the building was used for prior to being a solicitors' office.

Despite the objections, the council planning committee back in March approved the redevelopment by 5 votes to 4. You can see details of the planning meeting here. The blog is sorry to note that one of the 5 councillors who voted for the application is one of our local councillors - who's area of responsibility actually contains the demolished villas and many of the local residents nearby. I would have hoped our local councillors at least would share a stronger sense of local character and the importance of connections to local history.

We can now look forward to "four storey building comprising seven 2-bedroomed self-contained flats and one retail unit" that will look like this. As Mrs WP said a moment ago when she saw the picture - "Yuk!".

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Spark Extinguished

There's always something a little unsettling when a shop that's been open for a while closes down. And there have certainly been a few in and around Central Road recently. However there is one which is a little sadder than most.

Worcester Spark, which has been an electrical store for decades will be closing it's doors for the last time at the end of the month - which is tomorrow.

I have been well and professionally served by Worcester Spark every time I have been there and was genuinely shocked to see the closing down signs a few weeks ago.

Sadly the business has not been able to sustain itself with Martin, who has owned the business for many years after working there since he was a teenager, having to subsidise the shop through his separate work as an electrician for too long. It perhaps would have only taken another few people each day to shop there to keep it running but sadly not enough people have been supporting this local business and now we we are losing it.

Martin will continue his work as a local electrician but sadly Graham, the friendly face behind the counter will now, as he put it, be having to sign on.

Worcester Park will not only be losing an electrical shop. As many people know, Martin was one of the main people contributing to the Christmas Late Night each year. As well as helping Tracy from Cycle Power and Brendan from Pets Place organise things he helped with stalls - particularly in Windsor Road near his shop. His contributions to the traders association as well as local community events will be missed just as much as his shop will.

In an effort to empty the premises, all stock is now discounted to 50% off (not the 25% off which it was when I took the picture above) however they are only accepting cash.

The blog would like to wish both Martin and Graham good luck in the future and if anyone needs a friendly and conscientious chap to work behind the counter - there might be someone available quite soon...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Kiddies Shop

And now for a little good news... A new children's clothing shop is opening tomorrow in the old Sue Ryder premises. The shop 'Piku' is being opened by Mercedes who once co-owned the Cache shop (now Mia Strada) just up from Lynwood Drive.

Mercedes and her friend/assistant Katy were busy in there this morning unwrapping all the new clothes and setting up the boutique. Piku are having their grand opening tomorrow (Saturday 17th September) from 9:30am and there will be a few gastronomic treats for those who manage to pop in.

Mercedes told the blog they will be opening from 9:00 'til 5:00 during the week but 9:30 'til 5:30 every Saturday. She also showed me a few samples of the kiddies' wear available which included clothing from Portugal, British organic clothing and a range of what seemed like very reasonably priced general ware. (Mind you I'm one of the least qualified people to talk about clothing and fashion... - until recently I thought a cat-walk was what a cat did when it wanted to go somewhere...)

The Strada Less Travelled

Back in March 2015 Mercedes took the step of opening the ladies clothing shop Cache with her friend and business partner Mireya. After a successful year Mercedes felt she wanted to open her own shop and they both realised they now had the experience to go it alone. So Mercedes offered to sell her share of Cache to Mireya who bought it and changed the shop to Mia Strada, still specialising in affordable quality women's clothing, accessories, hand made jewellery and gifts.

They wanted to complete the deal before the end of the financial year (to keep the financial things a little simpler) and Mercedes began to work on her dream shop, finally choosing the old Sue Ryder shop after it closed in June last year to open Piku.

Mercedes and Mireya are still friends (I saw them both this morning) and were communicating this morning about the new shop opening.

Hopefully like Cache/Mia Strada, Piku will become a part of the Central Road Furniture and be a very successful local independent business!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

St Mary's Heritage Open Day

St Mary’s Church, Cuddington, (at the top of The Avenue in the Epsom and Ewell bit of WP) is having an open day today (Saturday 10th September), from 11am to 5pm.

As well as giving you a chance to look round the building, this year’s event will feature displays marking the 150th anniversary (a few weeks early) of the opening of the Iron Church that preceded St Mary’s, and telling the 150-year story of The Avenue, St Mary’s Road and Cleveland Road. There will be a photograph or drawing of nearly every pre-1910 house that existed in these roads (like the one on the right here), plus stories of some of the people who have lived here, above or below stairs.

This old photo shows Millfield or no. 33 The Avenue, one of the 1860s yellow-brick villas, which was replaced in the 1970s by the flats of the same name.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Vent Yer Treen

Train services from Worcester Park station. I think we can take it as read that they are rarely particularly impressive. Sometimes a whole day goes by with nearly every service running to schedule with no cancellations, but not very often...

If you would like to vent your railway related spleen, an opportunity is however on offer. Paul Scully, the new(ish) local MP has organised a public rail meeting for this Thursday (8th September) at the Royal British Legion.

Paul has persuaded the Chief Executive of South West Trains, representatives from Transport for London, the Department for Transport and Network Rail as well as his parliamentary colleague from the western side of the bridge, James Berry MP to attend the meeting and also Chris Grayling MP who is not only the local MP for a reasonable portion of Worcester Park (the Epsom and Ewell bit), but happens to be the country's transport secretary as well - so effectively the most qualified person in existence to discuss local transport issues.
The meeting will be a chance to hear from all of these guests, and to ask any questions about things that might be concerning you, such as overcrowding, rolling stock, and what Crossrail 2 means for the station and the surrounding area - all in the comfortable surroundings of the local Royal British Legion in Central Road.

Paul (who was out this morning and last week in Central Road promoting this) would like as many people as possible to attend this important event so if you have anything at all to contribute to the issue of local transport, this is your opportunity to say/do something about it.

The meeting starts at 7:30pm. Please register (for free) to help give some idea of numbers likely to attend.