What is the process for this stadium plan to be approved?

Merton Council’s planning committee granted unanimous approval for the stadium in December 2015. The GLA advised Boris Johnson that “there were no sound reasons for the Mayor to intervene”. But Mr Johnson ignored this advice and “called in” the application. There will therefore be a public hearing in 2016, date TBC. We will update the website with more information as soon as we can.

How supportive is the local council and other London authorities?

Merton Council approved the planning application unanimously and the GLA’s planning advisors supported and endorsed this decision.

I really want this to happen. Can I do anything to help?

Write to the Mayor of London in support of the application – but please wait if you can until full details of the public hearing are known.

What is the timescale for the stadium to be built?

Despite Boris Johnson’s call-in, the club and the developers remain on track for the stadium to be completed for the 2018-19 season. If the mayoral decision at a public hearing before the end of July 2016 supports the approval previously unanimously granted by Merton Council then the club and the developers expect the stadium (Phase One) to be completed by summer 2018.

I’m not a Wimbledon fan, so why should I support this proposal?

A new stadium would bring many benefits to the area beyond providing a match day home for AFC Wimbledon. So if you are a local resident it will be good news for you and your family as the further details on the coaching and community schemes hopefully make clear.

The proposal will also provide 600 new homes in the borough of Merton, including affordable housing provisions.

Plus since the FA allowed Milton Keynes to acquire Wimbledon’s original club and league place, as Wimbledon fans we have been genuinely delighted by the outpouring of support we have received on our journey back up from the leagues from fans of other teams. The building of a new home stadium is the final step in restoring Wimbledon’s football club back where it belongs. We don’t think you need to be a Wimbledon fan to believe in natural justice!

The Mayor of London also recently approved a new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur and has granted West Ham favourable terms for their occupancy of the taxpayer-funded Olympic Stadium. If he is keen to assist two privately-owned teams in the richest league in the world, surely he shouldn’t stand in the way of a fan-owned community club praised for its community work not only by a wide range of Wimbledon residents, but also by Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and Prime Minister David Cameron, who gave the club a Big Society Award in 2012.

If you want to know more about the history of Wimbledon’s football club, take a look here.

What are the benefits to the local community of this development?

Revitalisation of brownfield land;

Economic benefits including the spending from fans which will boost the local economy;

Social and wider community benefits including the use of the fitness club and retail 
offering and an increase in the number and range of initiatives implemented by the football club’s charity, the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, to include facilities and programmes based around sporting activity, education, health and social inclusion;

Relocation of a football stadium on the site will generate a significant number of full time and permanent jobs (pre and post-construction);

A new residential population at this site will help directly support planned business and social infrastructure for existing and future communities;

Delivery of new high quality housing contributing to London Plan housing targets for Merton (320 homes pa), meeting Lifetime Homes and minimum space standards.

Have the club consulted local residents to see whether they support the proposals?

In advance of submitting the application, AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes consulted extensively with the local community. A consultation leaflet was delivered to 18,000 homes. This leaflet included details of the project website, a freepost return survey and details of the three days of public exhibitions which were held in June and July 2014. We are delighted that the consultation showed significant support for the scheme. Overall 3041 people commented on the proposals with 84% supporting the proposals. When undertaking a detailed analysis of postcode sectors within the areas closest to the site, out of 813 respondents, over 72% supported the proposals.

How will the club fund this development?

Constructing the first phase of the stadium is expected to cost in the region of £21m. Part of the money will be raised by building the proposed new homes and retail space. In addition, funding will be sought through a combination of naming rights, a tax-effective share issue (which the club have been planning for the last 18 months) and proceeds from the existing stadium. The funding arrangements are due to be dealt with as part of the viability process.

Is AFC Wimbledon a financially sustainable proposition?

The club’s business plan has been prepared on a prudent basis. It reflects the experience of other clubs moving to a new stadium and shows that the extra income from the increased capacity and the hospitality that it is currently unable to offer at its existing stadium will substantially increase revenues and allow the club to continue its development.

How often will the stadium be used?

AFC Wimbledon play on average 30 first team home games a season across all competitions. The wider leisure and community facilities will be available virtually every day, throughout the year.

What will the impact on existing local residents be? Will there be disruption?

With regard to the effect of match days on public transport and pedestrian footfall, the club and its strategic partners will work closely with the council and local interest groups at every stage of the planning, construction and operational phases of the project to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible with minimum impact on residents.

As part of the planning application a detailed Transport Assessment has been submitted to consider the likely impact of fans attending a game on both a Saturday afternoon and midweek fixture. There is ongoing dialogue with the Local Authorities (LB Merton and LB Wandsworth) and Transport for London about an event management strategy for events at the stadium to ensure that fans are encouraged to use public transport as opposed to cars.

AFC Wimbledon supporters have an excellent reputation for good behaviour and the club has clear and effective procedures agreed with local authorities and the police to ensure any isolated examples of antisocial behaviour are dealt with promptly and efficiently. Home Office statistics confirm that in season 2013-14 there were only three arrests of home supporters at AFC Wimbledon home games. The quality of safety and security is such that only one home game in season 2014-15 is likely to have a police presence at the stadium. We are confident that neighbours and traders around the club’s current Kingsmeadow Stadium do not experience disruptive behaviour.

What guarantees are there that the proposed community activities as outlined in the club's submissions will actually come into effect?

Community activity has been at the heart of the AFC Wimbledon project since 2002. The club is owned and run by its fans and its performance is reviewed regularly by the Dons Trust, which lists community involvement among its core objectives. To underpin this commitment the club formed a Charitable Foundation, under which many of its communities activities are run. So you can rest assured that community engagement will be at the heart of everything the club does.

Prime Minister David Cameron gave the club a Big Society Award in 2012, saying “The team behind AFC Wimbledon have not just given fans a local club to support, but much more than this, they have united a community, given them the chance to have a real stake in their club’s future and made a huge difference to the lives of many people in the area at the same time.

“Football is a team game, and AFC Wimbledon have shown just what can happen when people don’t just sit on the sidelines, but choose to get involved and really pull together.”

What sort of coaching will the club provide?

AFC Wimbledon currently runs numerous courses, operated by qualified coaches for young people of varying ages and abilities. This activity will be expanded still further if the club is located in the heart of its community, with improved facilities provided by a new stadium as a base from which to operate.

What sort of community schemes will the club run?

For a taster, take a look at the club’s 2013 Community Report. This describes the many diverse activities in which the club is currently involved. If the new stadium is approved, the amount and range of these activities will increase thanks to better facilities and closer contact with the community from which AFC Wimbledon draws its strength.

Does AFC Wimbledon have a good track record of running community schemes?

Assuredly so. The schemes it currently runs generated an estimated £1.4million in social value for the borough of Merton. The club received the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award for its community work in 2012. Presenting the award Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics said: “Football clubs across the country have an important role to play in their local community and AFC Wimbledon is a fine example of this. They are worthy recipients of the Big Society Award for their community projects and I wish them every success in the future.” 

Is the club considering any other sites in Merton?

No. The greyhound stadium site was clearly identified in a Merton-wide search by independent consultants Colliers International as the best possible site of 19 considered, both in terms of its suitability as a football ground and how the development would assist in the regeneration of that part of the borough.

Are there any alternative plans for the site?

No. There has only been one planning application submitted to Merton Council with regard to the site. It has been submitted jointly by the land’s current owners, the Greyhound Racing . Authority Acquisitions Ltd (GRAA), Galliard Homes and AFC Wimbledon.

Plough Lane is a floodplain, surely that means nothing much can be built there anyway?

The Site is located in Flood Zone 3 ‘high probability’ with a 1 in 100 (1%) annual probability of flooding from rivers or the sea. However there is no record of the Site flooding from the River Wandle since 1968, as such the risk to the Site is considered to be lower than the modelling suggests.

Two Surface Water drainage strategies have been prepared for the Development. These provide facilities for the storage of surface water on site and restricted discharge to the Thames Water surface water sewer network. The systems have been designed up to a 1 in 100 year (1%) annual probability rainfall event, including a margin for potential increases in rainfall intensity and duration as a result of climate change and include measures for pollution control. This provides a substantial improvement compared to the existing drainage regime and will serve to reduce the risk of flooding from surface water at the site. The undercroft car parking includes void openings around the perimeter to allow flood water to enter the car park during different magnitude flood events. This will ensure that appropriate levels of flood plain storage are maintained across the site following the Proposed Development.

Will there be any parking on site?

There are over 222 car parking spaces and 685 cycle parking proposed for the residential elements. The stadium has a capacity of 73 parking spaces with a further 2 car parking spaces and 56 cycle parking spaces allocated for the retail, squash court and publically accessible areas of the site. It is accepted that this there will be less car parking on site than currently provided, which should help reduce traffic movements to the site.

What measures will be put in place to stop supporters parking outside my house on a match day?

Measures will be put into place to maximise the use of public transport thereby minimising the use of private vehicles to travel to events at the football stadium, and also to restrict vehicular access to non-residents from residential areas. These measures have been set out in the Transport Assessment which accompanies the planning application.

Does the Greyhound Stadium want to move/close?

The GRAA is backing this application. Greyhound racing has decreased in popularity since the 1960s. This has been reflected in the closure of a number of tracks and decreasing track attendances. Since 2000 six National Greyhound Racing Club (NGRC) tracks have been closed down. The national average for attendance per greyhound race meet is in significant decline and greyhound tracks continue to be significantly underutilised, having also experienced a decline in revenues. Total attendance at Wimbledon fell from 214,424 in 2006 to 119,285 in 2011.

The Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA) holds information on the viability of Wimbledon dog track. This shows that the retention of a dog track on this site would not be possible without public subsidy. Greyhound stadia continue to operate at Crayford in the London Borough of Bexley and at Romford in the London Borough of Havering.

What happened to the club’s original Plough Lane stadium?

After the Taylor Report recommended that top-flight stadia be made all-seater, the club’s then owner Sam Hammam decided that it would be not economical to convert the ground the club had at the far west end of Plough Lane. The club moved to groundshare with Crystal Palace in 1991. Reserve team games were played at Plough Lane until the end of the millennium.

The land on which the ground was situated was protected by a covenant which stipulated that it must only be used for sports purposes in order to safeguard the club a home in Wimbledon, but this covenant was removed by the council and the land was sold to a supermarket. It subsequently had flats built on it. You can read more about the past in our history of Wimbledon’s football club here.

Why can’t the club stay at its current ground, Kingsmeadow?

Kingsmeadow was a short-term purchase to enable the club to grow from birth. The club has quite simply outgrown it. It cannot easily be extended beyond a capacity of approximately 5,000 and many games are already sold out. It does not provide adequate commercial facilities or enable the club to participate more widely with its community.

And, of course, crucially, it’s not in Wimbledon. Supporters united against an FA decision in 2002 to right two wrongs – one was the transference of a football league place to a town that had done nothing to deserve it and the other was the removal of a club from the community that gave it its name and nurtured it. On the first count, AFC Wimbledon won the league place back in 2011. On the second, a return to a stadium in Wimbledon would bring the Dons home after more than 20 years in exile and return to Merton one of its prime community assets. You can read more about the past in our history of Wimbledon’s football club here.

Why do AFC Wimbledon need such a large stadium?

The proposals for this site would enable the continued growth and success of the club along with substantial economic and community benefits. A stadium of around 11,000 fulfils the likely requirements of the club while it remains a Sky Bet League Two team. However the stadium could be developed to around a 20,000 capacity based on the future growth and success of the club. The return home to Merton would see a large increase in support from local people who have been denied a local professional football team for so long. The club has commissioned an independent market survey which supports these conclusions, as does the experience of other clubs who built a new stadium.

What will happen if AFC Wimbledon reach the Premiership and need a Stadium in excess of 20,000?

The stadium is very carefully designed to create space for a capacity of 20,000. It is very unlikely to be possible to add additional capacity on the site and so the club would need to work within that constraint. The capacity of current Premier League clubs includes: Swansea, 20,800, QPR 18,400, & Burnley 22,500. In recent seasons Watford (capacity 17,500) and Blackpool (capacity 17,000) have played Premiership football.

Who is responsible for this website and this campaign?

Bring the Dons Home is a campaign run by a group of Wimbledon fans who want to make the club’s proposed community stadium a reality. We are not directly affiliated with AFC Wimbledon Ltd. If you would like to help us please email info@bringthedonshome.org. If you would like to contact us for any other reason, please email admin@bringthedonshome.org.