Merton Abbey Flats Plan Submitted Again After Refusal

Revised scheme proposed after original blocked in the High Court

Revised Merton Abbey planning scheme

A developer who had plans for 15 new flats on top of existing homes in Merton Abbey turned down after a High Court  battle has put in proposals for a new scheme.

Merton council's approval for the original plans for Watermill Way on the historic Merton Abbery Mills (see CGI below) was quashed in the High Court last year.

The legal challenge was made on the basis that comments from the council's conservation officer were not presented to the committee.

That proposed scheme to extend the Bennetts Courtyard development, which is made up of 52 flats across three four-storey buildings, was submitted to the council again earlier this year.

But that proposal was turned down in March when conservation officer comments included on the report to the planning committee said: "… do not feel that the proposed additional floor is an enhancement to the existing building, the riverside location or the conservation area."

The flats are next to the Wandle River and fall in a conservation area behind Merton Abbey Mills, an 18th century textile mill, now home to shops and restaurants.

Now two new plans have been submitted to Merton Council by RG Airspace Developments Ltd - one asking for 14 new flats on the existing three blocks and another asked for 17 new flats on top of the current development.

This time the developers say the extension will be built with "buff brickwork" to match the existing walls. The windows, louvres and roof will also match the existing building, according to the designs created by Putney-based Wimshurst Pelleriti. One of the criticisms of the previous scheme was the planned top floor was black in colour.

A detailed 'Built Heritage' report submitted to the council alongside the proposals, claims "the proposed development is not anticipated to impact upon the special historic or architectural interest of the Locally Listed Bennett's Courtyard, via alterations to its fabric. The proposed
development is also not considered to result in a change that would impact upon the Site's contribution towards the special interest of the Wandle Valley Conservation Area."

But Met Police Designing Out Crime Officer PC Neal Micklewright told the council in a report covering both applications that the addition of new flats to the area would require more work from the managing agent to ensure the safety and security of residents.

"The evidence of anti-social behaviour, dog fouling, CCTV cameras disconnected and turned around, and failing boundaries would suggest more needs to be done. Crime in the area is relatively high and with the push for reductions on violence against women and girls and crime in general, I feel that...general improvement needs to be considered," he said.

Resident @SallyLines1 said on Twitter: This is utter harassment by inhuman greed merchants and mental torture of law-abiding responsible hard-working leaseholders (who used to consider ourselves homeowners)."

Campaigner @SaveWimbledon said of the submission for two applications: "It’s a ploy applicants pursue to hedge bets in case one fails: Two applications,1st with higher number of flats. 17 flats (9x1 bed/8x2 beds). If fails, go for lesser number of 14 flats (7x1bed&7x2 beds). Developer misses point: Bennett’s Court is architecturally perfect as is!"

Comment to both applications are being invited until August 17 for application 22/P1940 (17 flats) and 22/P2151 (14 flats). You can make them via the Merton Council planning portal.

Original Merton Abbey Mills plans

CGI from the original application of how the flats would have looked. Picture: DaviesMurch

August 1, 2022