AFC Wimbledon announce plans to move back to Plough Lane

AFC Wimbledon announce plans to move back to Plough Lane

Greyhound racing has been held at Plough Lane since 1928

Greyhound racing has been held at Plough Lane since 1928

Wimbledon FC played games on a separate site in Plough Lane until 1991, where there remains a memorial statue

First published in News Exclusive by

AFC Wimbledon have announced plans to move to Plough Lane – the club’s spiritual home – on the site of the greyhound stadium.

This morning, the club announced their plan for moving Wimbledon's football team back to Merton after its predecessor, Wimbledon FC, left Plough Lane to ground-share with Crystal Palace in 1991.

It is believed the Plough Lane project, which the club believes could take "around 10 years" to complete, will cost somewhere in the region of £100m to build on the five hectare site.

For the last three years the club have been working with The Newridge Group, a property developer based in Morden Road, south Wimbledon.

Samuelson: “Fantastic next step in football club’s journey”

The proposals include building a stadium big enough to hold 12,000 fans and capable of increasing to 22,000.

The Dons propose to host "sporting and non-sporting events for the wider community" at Plough Lane, in a multi-purpose facility.

The plans will also include building housing and commercial facilities such as a hotel, with some of the profits from building those facilities going towards paying for building the new stadium.

Speaking exclusively to the Wimbledon Guardian, club chief executive Erik Samuelson said the next step will be buying the site before any detailed plans are produced.

Mr Samuelson also revealed the current proposals include sharing the ground with another sport, but said this was unlikely to include greyhound racing.

He said: "We don't know how long this will take but we will be more certain of timescales by the end of this calendar year.

"We have entered a competition with other bidders and now we hope to win it.

"This would be a fantastic next step in our journey. It's not the only site in Wimbledon but it is our preferred site by some distance.

"My personal preference would be not to share the stadium with a greyhound track but that would be a decision for the fans."

He added: "We are very grateful to Merton Council which has provided strong support for our aims and who have demonstrated over the last few months; it understands our needs and share our vision for the next big step in our growth.”

Merton Council: “We want a sporting legacy on the greyhound stadium site.”

The Dons’ vision for the site is in response to Merton Council's ‘call for sites’ – which requested those interested in developing a land site in the borough to set out their ideas in writing to the council.

The council will consider AFC Wimbledon's proposals and a rival bid to build a new "world-class" greyhound stadium (see below), but both bidders would need to buy the site from the stadium's current owners, the Greyhound Racing Association.

Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, said he welcomed the football club's plans for Plough Lane but warned they would face competition from other parties.

He said: "I am pleased for them. I think that is the right decision for them.

"We want a sporting legacy on the greyhound stadium site.

"There will be others who have other applications going in and I have to be mindful of that.

"We will welcome all applications for the site as long as it ends with a huge sporting legacy."

Milton Keynes Dons were formed after a Milton Keynes Stadium Consortium was given the go ahead to move Wimbledon FC 46.5 miles north by the Football Association in 2002 - a decision that shocked football and angered Dons fans.

In 2004, Wimbledon was dropped from the name and the new club became Milton Keynes Dons.

In response, in 2002, Dons fans formed a new phoenix club.

AFC Wimbledon, born on the fields of Wimbledon Common in 2002, has had a meteoric rise through the ranks of England’s football league system, surging from the ninth to the fourth tier in League Two in just nine seasons.

Rival plans to retain greyhound racing in new “world-class” Wimbledon Stadium

In May, ambitious plans were revealed to keep greyhound racing in Wimbledon by building a new £30m stadium in Plough Lane.

Irish businessman Paschal Taggart said he wants to build a new four-tier stadium with a capacity for 6,000 spectators.

In that submission to Merton Council, which was also published this morning, the Taggart-backed group argues Wimbledon Stadium is “the most famous and iconic greyhound racing venue in the United Kingdon, and must be retained.

“Our client has a strong, proven track record in the management and operation of greyhound stadium, to great success, and has a keen interest in acquiring the stadium to facilitate its redevelopment into the world’s leading venue for greyhound racing.”

Mr Taggart’s ambitious plans aim to bring in a new era for greyhound racing at a venue which is home to the sport’s biggest race, the Derby.

The plans include:

  • a 1,500 capacity ground floor concourse with bars and direct access to track-side terraces;
  • A carvery restaurant with 400 seats;
  • A 700-person restaurant on the first and second floors;
  • Eight luxury corporate suites. 

Squash club: "We have not been consulted"

A third submission regarding Plough Lane's future was submitted by a resident squash club which has been located next to Wimbledon Stadium for the last 40 years.

Christophers Squash Club said they were “surprised and disappointed” to not have been directly consulted by Merton Council on the emerging plans for the site.

The not-for-profit fitness club has seven squash courts, a two-storied gym, dance studio, a sports injury clinic, and boasts 70,000 visitors a year and argue their facilities should be protected from developments which do not encourage sport.

In its submission to the council, the club said: “We want to protect a valuable community asset that meets the needs of many local people, provides enjoyment to thousands of people using the facilities and is a major contributor to the health and fitness of many who might not otherwise participate.

“We save both the council and the NHS considerable money as a consequence.

“We would like this recognised and protected in any proposals the council may determine for its preferred use of the site and we believe that the failure of this being recognised to date is a serious weakness and needs to be recitified as soon as possible.”

What happens next?

  • Dec 13 - Feb 12, 2013: There will be a public consultation on the 'Call for Sites' submissions;
  • The council's Future Merton team will begin "deliverability testing" to evaluate the viability of the various proposals;
  • Spring 2013: Results of consultation to be published for public examination;
  • Summer 2013: An independent examination of the proposed sites;
  • Autumn 2013: A Merton Council cabinet meeting to discuss the council's conclusions and recommendations for Plough Lane and other sites across the borough.
  • November 2013 (to be confirmed): A full council meeting at Merton Civic Centre where all councillors can have their say on the proposals to be adopted into the council's official planning policy (the Core Strategy);
  • ???: Developers must submit formal applications to the council's planning committee, made of a cross-party selection of elected councillors who must look at the application in a quasi-judicial capacity.

What do you think of AFC Wimbledon plans to build a new football stadium in Plough Lane? Leave a commnet below, tweet us at @WimbledonNews or email Omar at: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk .

Comments (8)

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3:17pm Tue 7 Aug 12

Greytexploitations says...

I wish Wimbledon AFC every success in their bid to buy and develop this site for football.

The sharp decline of greyhound racing is the very reason why the present owners are selling. I'm hopeful that Wimbledon AFC will see no commercial value in investing in the cruel dog racing industry that will more likely be confined to history books in 10 years time.

Trudy Baker
Coordinator
www.greytexploitatio
ns.com
I wish Wimbledon AFC every success in their bid to buy and develop this site for football. The sharp decline of greyhound racing is the very reason why the present owners are selling. I'm hopeful that Wimbledon AFC will see no commercial value in investing in the cruel dog racing industry that will more likely be confined to history books in 10 years time. Trudy Baker Coordinator www.greytexploitatio ns.com Greytexploitations
  • Score: -1

3:47pm Tue 7 Aug 12

Ironicus says...

Football, played willingly by trained athletes supported by coaches, trainers and well equipped facilities is vastly preferable to forcing innocent, living creatures to risk their lives chasing a mechanical lure until they are no longer fast enough and are killed. Go Football!
Football, played willingly by trained athletes supported by coaches, trainers and well equipped facilities is vastly preferable to forcing innocent, living creatures to risk their lives chasing a mechanical lure until they are no longer fast enough and are killed. Go Football! Ironicus
  • Score: -1

5:01pm Tue 7 Aug 12

End dog racing says...

Commercial dog racing is cruel and inhumane and causes the suffering of thousands of greyhounds each year in the UK. Please bring in football or any other real sport to Wimbledon!

Christine Dorchak, Esq.
President, GREY2K USA

See our campaign video and sign a petition to end dog racing!

http://www.change.or
g/petitions/pledge-t
o-protect-greyhounds
Commercial dog racing is cruel and inhumane and causes the suffering of thousands of greyhounds each year in the UK. Please bring in football or any other real sport to Wimbledon! Christine Dorchak, Esq. President, GREY2K USA See our campaign video and sign a petition to end dog racing! http://www.change.or g/petitions/pledge-t o-protect-greyhounds End dog racing
  • Score: -1

5:38pm Tue 7 Aug 12

cheryl bush says...

The racing of Greyhounds is nothing more than a slaughter machine. Place your bet, watch them as they run, doped to hide previous injury. Watch them fall break their backs and put down. Breed them, no good as a 'racer', put them down. NO! The time has come to ban this barbaric excuse for 'sport' and educate the 'punters'!!
The racing of Greyhounds is nothing more than a slaughter machine. Place your bet, watch them as they run, doped to hide previous injury. Watch them fall break their backs and put down. Breed them, no good as a 'racer', put them down. NO! The time has come to ban this barbaric excuse for 'sport' and educate the 'punters'!! cheryl bush
  • Score: -1

8:11pm Tue 7 Aug 12

Beverly RA says...

Greyhound, Horses racing, show jumping etc should we not ban them all ?
But going back to WAFC, I wish them well, and its right that they return, but Plough Lane is a different place now, more residential so there may be problems with those who have moved there after The Dons had long gone, the old ground has now thousands of residents who may not take kindly to a football Club and the extra traffic it will bring, the place has changed.
Greyhound, Horses racing, show jumping etc should we not ban them all ? But going back to WAFC, I wish them well, and its right that they return, but Plough Lane is a different place now, more residential so there may be problems with those who have moved there after The Dons had long gone, the old ground has now thousands of residents who may not take kindly to a football Club and the extra traffic it will bring, the place has changed. Beverly RA
  • Score: 0

10:12am Wed 8 Aug 12

Poorarchie says...

Great comment by GREY2K USA. Shame this country is lacking a similar professional group.
Great comment by GREY2K USA. Shame this country is lacking a similar professional group. Poorarchie
  • Score: 0

10:58pm Sun 12 Aug 12

ronbray says...

I find it a bit rich that comments about greyhound racing should come from a person in a country which still has the death penalty in certain states, and perhaps they should desist from posting on matters affecting the local community of which they have no knowledge or interest. Many local people rely on the income from working at Wimbledon Stadium to feed and clothe their children. Wimbledon Stadium have an excellent record of animal welfare, have qualified vets in attendance at every trial and meeting, and contrary to popular belief many owners do take their racing dogs home as pets, or place them in the dedicated retirement kennels for Wimbledon, who are proud to declare that no dog is ever destroyed.
I find it a bit rich that comments about greyhound racing should come from a person in a country which still has the death penalty in certain states, and perhaps they should desist from posting on matters affecting the local community of which they have no knowledge or interest. Many local people rely on the income from working at Wimbledon Stadium to feed and clothe their children. Wimbledon Stadium have an excellent record of animal welfare, have qualified vets in attendance at every trial and meeting, and contrary to popular belief many owners do take their racing dogs home as pets, or place them in the dedicated retirement kennels for Wimbledon, who are proud to declare that no dog is ever destroyed. ronbray
  • Score: 1

6:19pm Tue 21 Aug 12

MirandaL says...

Mr Samuelson says "My personal preference would be not to share the stadium with a greyhound track but that would be a decision for the fans." Please listen also to those involved in greyhound rescue/welfare! They are the ones picking up the pieces of this 'throw away' trade. Sure - as Ronbray mentions - some owners do provide care post racing (and well done to them) but by FAR the majority will end up unwanted in the already overstretched rescue and rehoming system or euthanized due to lack of space or homes.
Mr Samuelson says "My personal preference would be not to share the stadium with a greyhound track but that would be a decision for the fans." Please listen also to those involved in greyhound rescue/welfare! They are the ones picking up the pieces of this 'throw away' trade. Sure - as Ronbray mentions - some owners do provide care post racing (and well done to them) but by FAR the majority will end up unwanted in the already overstretched rescue and rehoming system or euthanized due to lack of space or homes. MirandaL
  • Score: -1

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