AFC Wimbledon: Sadiq Khan returns Plough Lane stadium decision to Merton Council

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium
AFC Wimbledon were granted planning permission to redevelop Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium by Merton Council

AFC Wimbledon are a step closer to building a new stadium in Merton after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan overturned a decision to call in the plans.

The Dons had been granted planning permission to build an initial 11,000-seater ground on Plough Lane by Merton Borough Council in December 2015.

However the plans were called in for review in March by Boris Johnson, who was London's Mayor at the time.

After a consultation, Khan has handed the application back to Merton Council.

Khan said the plans will be "of great benefit to Londoners and the wider community for generations to come".

Merton Council's cross-party planning committee had unanimously agreed to the plans, and will now determine the application.

AFC Wimbledon's plans to redevelop the current site of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium include the construction of 602 residential units, and could see the capacity of the proposed new stadium increased to 20,000.

The League One club welcomed the decision in a statement on their website, adding they hoped the council would confirm that the planning application had been granted.

Meanwhile the leader of Merton Council, councillor Stephen Alambritis, said he was "thrilled" with Khan's announcement following a 14-day consultation period.

"We look forward to the homecoming of this much-loved and well-deserving team," Alambritis added.

"Merton wants to see AFC Wimbledon back on Wimbledon turf. We will now be working with the applicant towards the delivery of the site."

Merton's planning committee are expected to give final approval to the stadium scheme at their next meeting on Thursday, 15 September.

Plough Lane a 'spiritual home' for Dons

Wimbledon FC in action at Plough Lane
The old Wimbledon FC were forced to leave Plough Lane in 1991

The original Wimbledon FC were forced to leave their Plough Lane ground in 1991 following the publication of the Taylor Report which, in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, recommended that top-flight sides should play in all-seater stadiums.

They shared Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace until 2003 when they moved to Milton Keynes, having been given permission to relocate by an independent commission a year earlier.

The club were subsequently renamed MK Dons, while their old Plough Lane home became a residential development.

AFC Wimbledon, formed in 2002 in response to the relocation, have played all their home games at Kingsmeadow in Kingston, which is also home to non-league Kingstonian.

The phoenix club had two main aims: to return to the English Football League and to move back to Merton, which they see as the club's spiritual home.

They have won six promotions in the 14 years since their formation, reaching the third tier with a 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle in the League Two play-off final in May.

AFC Wimbledon took over the leasehold of Kingsmeadow in March 2003 and have agreed to sell the ground to Premier League side Chelsea.

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