Plans for a much-loved Victorian building in Carshalton, drawn up by a Sutton-based environmental charity, are being opposed by the borough’s Tory opposition because they want to build on the site instead.
The highly-respected charity, EcoLocal, have submitted exciting proposals to Sutton Council for The Lodge, which stands in a conservation area near Carshalton Ponds. The building is currently used by the council’s Social Services Department and is in a run-down state.
Under the EcoLocal plans the building would be restored for a mixed use office/classrooms and residential development. The proposals were considered to offer best value and to provide the basis for sustainable long-term use of The Lodge providing significant long-term benefits to the community.
Carshalton Central Lib Dem ward councillors, Hamish Pollock, Alan Salter and Jill Whitehead commented: “Sadly the opposition Conservative group is opposing the EcoLocal plans, and have indicated they would prefer to build on this historic site which is in parkland and in a conservation area.”
Sutton’s Conservatives wanted to do something similar in the mid-1980s, but the election of a Liberal-SDP Alliance council in 1986 allowed the reversal of the decision to sell The Lodge land. The then Liberal/SDP administration opened the borough’s popular Ecology Centre, the first such centre in the country.
The Tory approach is out of step with the wishes of the local community. Of 700 people who responded to a consultation about the EcoLocal plans, 97% supported them.
The plans for The Lodge are part of an overall programme which would protect buildings within the Carshalton Village Conservation Area and the parkland in and around Carshalton Ponds and The Grove Park.
Following a wide consultation residents made it clear that they wanted the area’s historic assets to stay in community hands where possible. They voted for the EcoLocal proposals for The Lodge, and for a proposal by the Sutton Council for the Voluntary Sector (SCVS) for The Grove House, currently used by the council’s Education Department.
SCVS is currently consulting local people further about their plans for The Grove House and a drop-in day was held recently at Honeywood Museum to allow residents to express their views.
The EcoLocal proposal will be considered again at a meeting of Sutton Council at 7pm on Monday 2 November in the Sutton Civic Offices.