9th May 2001
Mr Roger Casale MP
Dear Mr Casale,
We are residents of Totham Lodge a block of flats in Richmond Road, Raynes Park. The freeholder of the property has recently applied for planning permission to construct a number of houses in what we see as our "back garden". Indeed when the block was constructed in 1937, a line was drawn on the plan and a covenant added to the title prohibiting the construction of any flats North of that line. Apparently the then owner discounted the possibility that a plan to construct any other form of dwellings on that space might some day be proposed.
As you (in common with most reasonable people) might well have expected, the Planning Application was rejected by Merton Council, on multiple grounds including (among other things) the loss of amenity space to be suffered by the existing residents of Totham Lodge and the negative impact on parking, which is already inadequate for the needs of the existing 30 flats on the estate.
However, the freeholder has described the Council's decision as misguided and expressed a determination to appeal to a higher authority. The freeholder's representative has repeatedly cited the Deputy Prime Minister as being an enthusiastic advocate of the redevelopment of "brown field" sites and has claimed this as grounds for his continued pursuit of the planning application.
We write to ask of you two things :
Enclosed please find a map of the estate as it now is (roughly to scale at 250:1) and a plan of the proposed new dwellings in our garden. Although our leases do entitle us to one car parking space for each flat, the landlord retains control of 10 garages and in fact lets some of these to non-residents. The parking generally available to residents at present is therefore somewhat fewer than 20 places and would be far worse if the planning application should somehow be permitted. For an aerial view of the site, if you have a few moments, you could go to the web and look at : http://www.streetmap.co.uk and enter our post code SW20 0PF. At the foot of the resulting map, click the camera icon. When the photo appears, there will be a map to its left. If our building were on the map, it would be under the "P" of "PARK" in the large grey "Cottenham Park". In fact, the only other large block of flats on the map is Spencer Court off to our right.
As a little background, the freeholder's representative claims the planning application was prompted by our move to collectively enfranchise ourselves and buy the freehold - he says he had no previous idea it had the potential for redevelopment. The building is in a poor state of repair and the present freeholder (the fourth in a little over five years) has not encouraged us to believe we will be well served by its stewardship. While it would be some comfort to see off the present attempt at redevelopment while ever we have an investor landlord we will continue to feel a need for vigilance in case they propose some other redevelopment to our detriment.
We look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.