It was with a great sense of relief and satisfaction that we heard Merton councillors pour scorn on their officers’ proposal for the Revelstoke Road car park extension in Wimbledon Park, at the council’s planning committee meeting last night.

One councillor said it would “double the size of the blot on the landscape” while another slated it as “a half-baked report that is ill researched and should never have come to the committee in the form that it has.”

Councillors deferred making a decision because they felt there were too many areas of concern with the current proposal, including:

• the failure to safeguard protected views of the Grade II* listed park, in contravention of Merton’s own policies

• the inability and unwillingness to control or monitor how many commuters and other non-park users were taking advantage of the free parking

• the failure to implement Merton’s policy of encouraging sustainable transport rather than car use

• its failure to justify the choice of size or location

• the inadequate planting scheme and lack of any landscaping work

• the threat to nearby ancient trees.

Nick Steiner, chair of FOWP, Iain Simpson, chair of Wimbledon Park Residents’ Association and local resident Andrew Craig, all spoke powerfully against the proposal. There was only one speaker in favour: Sim Comfort of the Wimbledon Park Heritage Group. He said his group had designed the scheme in conjunction with Merton Council. Doug Napier, Merton’s Greenspaces Manager and a key advocate of the scheme, did not attend.

You can see the text of Nick’s speech here – it sets out our objections clearly and concisely.

It was a lively meeting and you can watch a webcast of it by going to

www.merton.public-i.tv/core/portal/home where it should be available shortly. You will also find front-page coverage in this week’s Wimbledon edition of the South London Press.

This is not a complete victory for us, but it does at least mean that Merton’s planning officers will now have to go back to the drawing board and rethink the whole scheme. This gives FOWP an excellent opportunity to be part of the dialogue and arrive at a much better solution that protects this wonderful park.