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New planning application submitted by Laguna Quays (May 2007)

Laguna Quays Ltd. submitted a planning application to Merton Council on 24th May 2007 for redevelopment of the main hospital building as a private hospital specialising in fertility, paediatrics and maternity services. The Firs buildings will be developed fro re-use as staff and visitor accommodation.

The applications are available for inspection at the ground floor reception of the Civic Centre between 9.00am-5.00pm Mondays to Fridays. Please note that the Duty Officer will only be available from 9.00-11.00 am Mondays to Fridays to discuss the applications.

Alternatively, click below to view the applications online, along with the letter and attachment submitted by LUNG in response to the proposals

Link to the Merton planning applications web-site

How to find the Laguna Quays planning applications on the Merton applications web-site:
1) select 'Copse hill' as the street. The AMH applications currently appear near the top of the list
    (Reference numbers 07/P1344 and 07/P1347)
2) Click on one of the AMH application reference numbers for an overview; then go to the bottom of the application page and     select "view related documents" -- this gives access to the full set of planning application documents

Direct links to some of the key drawings:

Message from Nick Smith (Chairman of Lung) commenting on the application:

I have attached an update which sets out from LUNG's point of view what we see as the positive aspects of the new planning application for the AMH site, and the five key issues where we feel we need to try and get some changes from the developer in order for the project to be a win for the owner, the Council and the local community. 

To summarise the attached paper, the five points that we feel need to be addressed in order to make this application align with Merton's general UDP policies for the conservation area and their specific design brief for this important site are:

  1. The proposed routing of a new path through the site (and the closure of the current north/south path) and the fact that the new one will only be usable during the hours of light
  2. The unacceptable destruction of at least 26 trees on the Copse Hill side of the site, all with current Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's) on them, to ease the placement of new buildings
  3. The fact that the proposed new buildings will be built up to the boundary line with the MOL, next to the lawn, to the south of the hospital
  4. The use of the MOL for car parking for hospital staff etc. contrary to national, UDP and specific site brief guidance.  The use of MOL for servicing a new bus turnaround outside the Wolfson Centre without adequate compensation
  5. Despite lots of positive wishes expressed in the application, there is nothing specific about how the new owner will maintain the MOL, how they will offer access to the MOL, and what concrete guarantees they will offer as to how long they will carry on doing this.

We want Merton to negotiate a legally binding agreement with the owners that clarifies exactly how they will enhance and protect the MOL (particularly the playing fields) to the degree that they have promised in their application, and the length of time they will agree to support it.  Please read the attached document for further detail about the scheme and LUNG's views on it.

If you wish to raise an objection to any of this proposal, there is a small window of possibility. Merton's Planning Department say that they will take into consideration any comments after the closing date (27th June 2007) "while still practicable". We would suggest you respond to the Council as quickly as possible. The volume of replies is important.

Please register your comments with the Planning Officer, Michaela Mercer, with a copy of your comments to Cllr Samantha George, Cllr John Bowcott and Cll Rod Scott.  The email addresses are set out below:

Michaela Mercer, Case Officer, Planning Department, Merton Council:

Councillor Samantha George:

Councillor John Bowcott:

Councillor Rod Scott:






The land and buildings of the Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, as well as surrounding land owned by the St. George’s NHS Trust, were identified as surplus and it was decided they should be sold or otherwise disposed of.

A total of 23 acres (8.85 hectares) was declared surplus to requirements.  A substantial portion of this, an area of 17 acres (6.99 hectares), appears unsuitable for development, as it is designated as a Conservation Area and Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) under the Unitary Development Plan which is followed by the London Borough of Merton in matters of planning consent.  In addition,  approximately 3 acres of the MOL portion is also designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).  

Merton Council's latest Planning Brief for the AMH site was approved in July 2003, replacing the earlier Chapter 9 Annex to the Unitary Development Plan which was then adopted in October 2003..  The Planning Brief constitutes formal Supplementary Planning Guidance, and should be taken into account by owners, potential developers and all other interested parties when considering opportunities for future use of the site.

LUNG's vision for Morley Park
LUNG's committee have drafted a vision for the open land that attempts to take into account

  • what people have told us at public meetings

  • the messages from the Planning for Real exercise

  • what we have learned from other examples where public land has been transferred to Development Trusts to manage the facilities for the benefit of the community

  • the need to ensure the scheme is financially viable

LUNG's Business Plan for the Morley Park Trust
The Wimbledon Society, the Residents’ Association of West Wimbledon, and the North West Wimbledon Residents’ Association engaged in numerous discussions with a wide range of interested parties regarding potential future ownership, management and use of various portions of the MOL site, together with issues relating to funding needs and sources.

In April 1999, the above organisations submitted to the Atkinson Morley Task Force, the St. George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, and the London Borough of Merton, a draft proposal and business plan for the areas designated as Metropolitan Open Land.  The most appropriate and broadly acceptable solution was considered to be a privately funded public park (owned by a charitable trust) for the benefit of the community and local wildlife.  

The Morley Park Trust Ltd (MPT) was established, and a team of specialist volunteers, led by Philip Black, put together a new business plan which addresses both the capital costs of setting up the Park and the running costs into the future.

The team were helped by considerable professional input from Merton Council, the Wimbledon Conservators, and others in regard to costings for the upgrade and maintenance of the woodland areas and playing fields. They also explored partnerships that could defray costs to the MPT for such areas as the playing fields, as well as outlining income potential for the site, in keeping with the principles that have already been set out.

Transport  and Footpath
The path is also part of an important pedestrian route linking Copse Hill to Raynes Park. Maintaining the path through the site is central to LUNG’s vision for the future of the site. This is essential to provide ease of access for residents living both to the north and the south of the park, and especially for young families living to the north of the site where there is no public playground for children.  The footpath was temporarily closed but has now been reopened 

The AMH site is also on the 200 bus route which goes from Mitcham to Raynes Park via Wimbledon Town and Village.  There is currently a turning circle for the bus on the Hospital site, by the Copse Hill entrance.  This bus service is currently much used by both hospital staff and local residents. LUNG has conducted a survey to establish patterns of use, and residents’ views about what should happen to this bus service when the hospital closes.

St. George's Trust planning applications:

First planning applications August 2003:
On 4th August 2003, the NHS Trust submitted four planning applications. Click here for a summary including diagrams, and LUNG's observations

Revised planning application November 2004:
The Trust submitted a planning application November 2004 which was met with vigorous opposition from local residents, and LUNG raised a number of significant concerns and questions.

Final planning applications approved October 2005:
Following the defeat of planning applications in August 2003 and November 2004, St. George's Trust submitted a further Planning Application December 2004. Further protests from the community resulted in amendments in August 2005. The amended application was approved in October 2005


Sale of the Atkinson Morley site announced April 2006
St. George's Trust puts Atkinson Morley site on the market November 2005.
Having obtained planning permission despite vigorous objections from LUNG and others, St Georges immediately marketed the AMH site in November 2005.
Developers had until Tuesday 20th December 2005 to submit sealed bids. Some interested parties, as part of their preparations, discussed with us what the local sensitivities are and others completely ignored local discussion prior to the bid being made. Obviously LUNG had no formal role in this process, but it is worrying that many interested parties did not think it worth the discussion.

The sale of The Atkinson Morley's site, which includes The Firs flats but excludes the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit took took place April 2006. St. George's Trust announced that the Atkinson Morley and Firs sites were sold for a total of £20m to a private developer named Laguna Quays Ltd.  The Trust's share of the sale was £15.1m, of which £11.5m must be returned to the Strategic Health Authority to pay off a loan that helped fund the new wing at St. George's Hospital, and £3.3M will be applied to improve St. George's finances.

Who are Laguna Quays? (October 2006)
The change of ownership of the AMH site has been recorded at the Land Registry, and LUNG has obtained a copy of the registration document (summary of key points attached). The new owner's name is confirmed as Laguna Quays, registered in the Virgin Islands.  Mr. Homer (Chief Executive) signed the document on behalf of the St Georges NHS Trust, and there were two signatories from Laguna Quays, whose names have been witheld from the public document. This is very unusual and leaves us wondering what it is about the purchase that these two people don't want their names to be associated with and what influence they have to achieve this secrecy. It is also interesting that the NHS have taken a 2-year lease from Laguna Quays for 27 parking places close to Cottenham Park Road for the use of the Wolfson Rehabilitation Unit.

This gives rise to a number of questions, among them:
- the duration of the Wolfson's continued stay on the site
- the length of time that the owners will take before deciding on future uses, if any.

Laguna Quays exhibition of new draft proposals April 2007
Laguna Quays Ltd issued an open invitation to view draft proposals for redevelopment of the Atkinson Morley Hospital site at Christ Church Hall, 16 Copse Hill, Wimbledon on Monday 2nd April between 2.00-9.00pm.

LUNG wishes to thank everyone who attended the exhibition and those of you who have shared their views with us. The views
expressed were mixed on the merits of the proposals for the built element of the scheme.  Many preferred the new Laguna Quays proposals for the built development to the previously-approved St Georges application; some were disappointed at the lack of housing provision, but most welcomed a return to use as a hospital.  However most also expressed concerns about the
infringements of buildings and parking on metropolitan open land, the lack of any guarantees for the long term future use of the open land and public access to it, and the rerouting of the north/south path.  Another very common concern was the total lack of information on who Laguna Quays are. Those presenting the scheme at the exhibition were not from Laguna Quays but were architectural advisors and doctors employed by them as consultants. LUNG has written to Laguna Quays via their solicitors expressing these concerns and asking that a mechanism be devised to guarantee the restoration, maintenance and use of the Atkinson Morley open land. 
Letter from LUNG to Laguna Quays (07.05.07)



Last Updated 17/06/07