YMCA Wimbledon development approved by Merton Council

Merton Council’s Planning Applications Committee granted YMCA Wimbledon planning permission for a nine-story development on Friday, subject to conditions.

The Broadway site’s hostel development will offer 121 en-suite rooms and shared cooking spaces in every corridor.

Although the development will provide only 11 more hostel rooms than currently exist on the site, an adjoining development will provide 135 residential flats.

YMCA St. Pauls’ Group CEO Richard James said: “We are delighted to put forward this application.”

The hostel development will also provide an upgraded gym and studio space, and a new children’s area and community cafe. 

James added: “YMCA has become a key partner to Merton Council in the provision of supported accommodation for vulnerable people.

“We are also home to a cross-section of the community who comes through our one front door to access affordable activities.

“Whilst our work has evolved in response to the needs, our building desperately needs to catch up.”

MOCK UPS: CGIs of the accepted development

The committee approved the application subject to conditions with nine votes for and zero votes against, but the deliberations were not without controversy.

In a written statement, Conservative councillor Nigel Benbow said: “In Abbey ward, it is generally still viewed as an overdevelopment. 

“Is it worth building for only eleven extra rooms for the YMCA hostel?

“Why can’t YMCA go somewhere else instead of Wimbledon and build bigger for homeless people? 

“The Wimbledon YMCA wasn’t a homeless hub and it shouldn’t be.”

Councillors Alambritis, Stringer, and Christie appeared surprised by the comment.

SHOCKED: Councillors react to Cllr Benbow’s comment. Credit: Merton Council.

And Lib Dem Dundonald ward councillor Anthony Fairclough described the comment as ‘shocking’.

The following day, Lib Dem Trinity Ward councillor Paul Kohler tweeted that he was ‘saddened’ by the comment.

But Benbow told South West Londoner his comments were ‘mischaracterised’.

He said: “My statement included many issues with the YMCA planning application, including serious issues around security and the street scape.

“I was concerned that there will only be an extra 11 rooms made available for homeless people, and I firmly believe that an alternative site should be found which would allow for more rooms for those in need.

“I also found this application particularly jarring and insulting to the homeless community when the proposal will create 135 luxury flats right next door.

“I have received numerous supportive comments from residents who agree with my position.”

Benbow’s statement welcomed other developments to the Broadway site, which he described as ‘well overdue’.

There remain concerns for YCMA Wimbledon to address.

Plans for 15 and 24-storey developments were scrapped in July and 2013 respectively, due to concerns about the building’s height.

However, councillors at Friday’s meeting still raised concerns regarding light access, privacy and parking.

Love Wimbledon BID CEO Helen Clark Bell said: “The design journey has not been an easy one. 

“This application, however, clearly demonstrates that they have really listened to the feedback they have received through their open and accessible consultations, and have now produced a design that will contribute very positively to the public realm and the area, building on its standing as a strong community asset.”

Submission floor plans and CGIs for the development can be viewed here.

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