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Club News

Almost decision time

25 November 2015

Erik's update about potential new stadium

In his programme notes for last night’s Dagenham & Redbridge match, Chief Executive Erik Samuelson provided an update on the club’s planning application for a new stadium in Plough Lane.

This is reproduced in full below:

At the time of writing, the date hadn’t yet been confirmed for the Merton Planning Committee to consider the planning application for our new stadium, but it is widely believed that it will be held on Thursday 10 December. If that turns out to be true, then these are the last programme notes I’ll be writing before that meeting. So, while making it clear that I’m not making an announcement about the date, and neither am I seeking to pre-empt Merton’s decision about the timing of the meeting, I think it is an appropriate time for me to talk about the subject.

First, the Planning Committee meeting is open to the public. The exact conduct of the meeting is for Merton Council to decide, but for most Planning Committee meetings any member of the public is entitled to ask to speak, but only if they submit a request to do so before the meeting. I expect that there will be plenty of applicants, and that the Council will select members of the project team and some objectors to speak and to respond to specific questions. Since applicants should already have made their position known in their written comments submitted during the consultation period, speakers are normally given a specific and quite limited amount of time in which to state their case.

I understand that there is likely to be very limited space available for observers in the meeting chamber. As a result, Merton are looking into making space available at the Civic Centre in Morden for the proceedings to be broadcast for those people who wish to watch them live. We will keep you informed as to what is proposed, and this will be announced on the Merton Council website too.

When will the decision be made? The Planning Committee will be presented with a resolution on which they will vote at the meeting. However, the decision will not take effect until a so-called decision notice is issued. We expect that it will be some weeks, but hopefully not months, before the decision notice is published.

There are various possible reasons for delays in issuing these notices, but one of the most common is that the Section 106 agreement must be finalised. (Section 106 agreements are legal agreements between local authorities and developers. They are linked to planning permissions and seek to ensure that certain standards are met and that local improvements, where necessary, have legal force. Typically, they cover issues such as affordable housing, highways and public open spaces.) In any event, the Council’s decision will need to be signed off by The Mayor of London before the decision notice is issued.

I don’t have the space here (and I don’t have the technical knowledge either) to go into exactly how and when a Planning Committee’s decision might be subject to challenge or change. But I think I ought at least to say that in addition to the requirement for the Mayor to sign it off, the decision may be subject to a challenge in the High Court if an objector believes that there was a significant legal error in the Council’s decision, or in the way in which it was reached – but note that an objector can’t appeal on the grounds that they simply don’t agree with the decision.

So while a positive decision by the Planning Committee would be a major step forward for us, it isn’t the end of the story so far as obtaining permission is concerned. Making allowance for the time to issue the decision notice, as well as the period during which a judicial review may be instigated, it is likely to be a few months before we can breathe easy and be certain that the decision is unchallengeable. Whether the meeting is in December or in the New Year, we will soon have substantially greater clarity about where we are heading. And while there may be some degree of trepidation on the part of members and other fans, we’d have given anything to be in this position 18 months ago, wouldn’t we?

Please keep an eye on the official website for further news.


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