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Club News

Calling all fans in Merton

11 February 2015

Club News

Calling all fans in Merton

11 February 2015

Council staging a meeting tonight

In Saturday’s match day programme Chief Executive Erik Samuelson urged supporters who live in Merton to attend a public meeting tonight about the club’s planning application for a new stadium.

For those who may have missed this article, it is republished in its entirety below:

The first of two public forums about the planning application for Plough Lane was held in Wandsworth last Monday and the second meeting will be in Merton on Wednesday (tonight). It is important that we are seen to have support for our bid at the Merton meeting, but it will be much more powerful if the people advocating it actually live locally. So if you’re a Merton resident, then please consider going to the meeting.

Many thanks to Dons Trust Board (DTB) member Mark Davis for representing us at the Wandsworth meeting, which I missed as I was away. It’s clear from the feedback that there are residents with genuine concerns about a range of issues relating to the development, including matchday parking, traffic levels generally, and the fact that the site is designated as being on a flood plain. We take these concerns very seriously, and that’s why we’ve commissioned a massive amount of research and, over a two-year period, consulted bodies including the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, Network Rail, the Metropolitan Police and the Environment Agency.

In the original application we sought to deal with each of the specific issues that were raised; where other matters have been raised subsequently, or more details requested, our team has been very busy making sure that each and every point is answered.

As a result, while some people’s fears will never be allayed, we believe we’ve presented a very strong case for the application. Furthermore, I’m told that the fans who spoke at the Wandsworth meeting presented their views clearly and calmly and added to the professionalism of the entire approach, so thanks to those of you who did so.

Meanwhile, at a recent DTB meeting, board members were presented with an update and timetable for the development of the stadium, in the event that we get planning permission. It has become clear that if we are to meet a target opening date of season 2017/18, we need to carry out some more design work now, before the decision is known, and so after due process the DTB approved a clearly defined project to develop exactly what will be incorporated in the first stage (i.e. 11,000 capacity) of the stadium.

The work involves collecting the views of a wide range of people who have an interest in how the stadium will operate and what it will contain. So, for example, the design team is looking at everything from how many boxes and suites the hospitality areas will contain, to the space needed for the groundsman’s equipment, the shape and size of the players’ changing rooms, and how many, if any, of the administration staff need to be based there. It’s critical to get these details right because they will form the basis of the tender documents we hope to put out later this year – and anyone who has ever been involved in a construction project, however small, will know how expensive it is to change the design once the contractor has been appointed.

There are two groups we are particularly keen to involve in the project, namely local community groups and you, the fans. So we’ve asked the team to come up with some scenarios for how fans can be involved, and these ideas will be presented to a DTB meeting later this month. So watch out for that.

Changing the subject, it can’t have escaped your attention that the new scoreboard that was erected earlier this season has not been working. This is frustrating and disappointing, all the more so since it is dedicated to the memory of a long-term devoted fan, Martin Fielding. We are in correspondence with the supplier; given the nature of our discussions, I think it best just to say that we are very sorry it isn’t working and that we’re taking steps to make sure it does so as soon as possible. I’ll bring you news about that as our discussions with the supplier develop.

Merton Council are holding a public meeting tonight to give Merton residents the opportunity to hear more about the plans for the new stadium.

If you live in Merton, please attend this meeting if you can. The venue is Ricards Lodge School (main hall), Lake Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 7HB. The meeting starts at 7.00 pm and is expected to finish at 8.30 pm.

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