Making plans for Wombles

An XTC reference, purely because I couldn’t think of a suitable s106 pun…

So, here we are. It’s been over a week since the mythical Torah-like pieces of paper got signed, sealed, scanned and ready for your Xmas reading pleasure. Hell, some of it you might even understand if you’re not a lawyer.

It’s funny how NPL has made many a Dons fan interested in things like s106s, flood plains, points of law and what have you. Most supporter sites/fanzines have words on their midfield. We write about planning rules instead.

They’ve taken a while, more than a while in fact, but they’re finally here for us to read. Which is exactly what we’ll do right now…

All six documents are on the LBM website – the Development Appraisal, the definition of terms, Schedule 1, Schedule 2, Schedules 3-16, and finally something called Engrossments, which is literally the signed and sealed bit.

Which makes it all nice and official to read. I expect they were an absolute pleasure to even look at in the flesh, let alone put pen-to-paper on.

To nobody’s surprise, there’s a fair amount of it, so you won’t get everything – it would take me a week to write, two weeks for you to read and you’ll be so bored half-way through, you’d wish we stayed at KM instead.

First things first. What s106s do is allow us to formally apply for discharging planning conditions, so it’s not the absolute oracle. Go to page 251 onwards of the original document from 10/12/15 and you’ll see what I mean.

This is basically getting everything down OK with the lawyers. A slow, laborious step that isn’t glamourous, but it won’t get built without it.

Second things second. From an AFCW supporters point of view, a lot of this isn’t particularly relevant. It’s not going to ruin your weekend to know we must wait for LBM to approve a draft Internal Road and Public Access Areas Management and Maintenance Plan, for instance.

Unless of course you work in that very field and your job keeps you awake at night.

Anyway, let’s get delving. Firstly, the Development Appraisal, which is basically how much Galliard are going to sell the flats for, less expenses and everything. £559k is standard for something that’s basically in an industrial estate – it’s not exactly Wimbledon Village.

Hell, it’s not even Colliers Wood.

Maybe a little bit higher than similar properties in the area, although you do have the unique feature of being next door to AFCW.

A couple of little things that caught my eye – the retail space has 18 months rent free, so enough time to open the sex shop. The squash club too gets six months rent-free (which will be Christophers), and even better for them Galliard will fit it out for them.

I don’t know much about creches, but is £1.368m for one just a tad steep? Or is there a provision for Franchise fans when (if) they travel down? After all, soiled nappies can be quite unhygenic to dispose of properly.

If nothing else, Galliard aren’t going to be rich from this. Though I’m sure they won’t be plunged into poverty…

Part One, next. LBM is going to enter into a side agreement with LBW over contributions, because the Brighter Borough (sic) isn’t privy to the deed. It won’t shut those Hooray Henrys up from whinging about the transport infrastructure, but I assume covers us legally.

Speaking of legal, a lot of it is definitions – a bit like the Terms and Conditions on a credit card application form that nobody reads. Much if not most of it is stuff you’ll be familiar with if you do planning or construction/engineering for a living, and not really too interesting if you’re not.

I note that they consider “Completed Stadium” to be when (if) the capacity goes up to 20,000 though. Presumably one of the biggest skills in being a lawyer is knowing how to cover your arse.

I also note that throughout these s106 documents that they use “FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT”, which I guess is the legal equivalent of “stop arguing with us over this, you dickwad”.

Maybe we could use it elsewhere, like “FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT, it is accepted that AFCW are shit up front”? I await the next OS match report when we fire a blank.

When you go through even this one section, the amount of things like “Local Area Management Plan” and “Employers Agent (Stadium)” is quite staggering. Make no mistake, this is a huge project, and you can see why so many years went into it just to get to this stage.

Oh, and I note there’s a “SPV Football Club (Phoenix Company)” definition, which means that if AFCW goes belly-up, there’s a provision for AFC AFC Wimbledon…

The second part is LBM’s decision notice in writing, which specifies what can and can’t be done. Everything relies on final plans getting approved, like what it’s going to look like, what materials can/can’t be used. Again, standard stuff, it’s just that there’s a lot of it.

You’ll be pleased to know that the Squash club will have clear glass windows, so you can look inside and scare the gym rats. You’ll also be pleased to know that the retail unit won’t open before 7am and has to shut at 10pm.

Actually, it seems that 10pm is the cut-off point for the club shop and the squash club as well. I don’t know if that’s throughout Merton, or just that area, but you’d have to be uber-obsessive to hang around our club shop around midnight.

And let’s face it, a few of our number would do exactly that 😉

The good news is that the hospitality suites can close at 1am. I get the impression we can only use them for game day unless we write to LBM asking for a change of use, so for now I don’t expect to be able to visit the New Batsford Arms on a dull Thursday.

That said, I guess it will be a case of, if we can do it we will. Hell, imagine having a birthday party at the NPL restaurant.

We won’t be able to use the stadium more than twice a week, although “an average” does sound like it gives us a bit of occasional leeway. I can’t see how playing a home cup replay, or an u21 international, or even an LSC type fixture would cause too many problems.

Schedule Two is the plans section. Feel free to sit one quiet afternoon over the Yuletide period and just stare blankly at them.

If you didn’t know it, the stages of development are quite interesting – once the site is cleared and the below-ground stuff is done, our stadium gets built first. I don’t know if the other bits will happen at the same time, although from the point of view of Galliard, they’re rather it was built last of all.

Plough Lane itself is going to get a much-needed rejig, roadway wise. Not only that, but the road which curves around the site leading you to the Corner Pin is going to be changed as well. I don’t doubt it will cause hassle while it’s getting redone, but anything that happens will improve it.

Bit like the whole site itself, really.

Incidentally, if you want to know what a culvert is – take a look. Personally, I’m more shocked that there’s an existing one on site already, though the existing dog track had no car park drainage whatsoever, apparently.

We’ll doubtless see plenty of these around. In fact, the next time you go to KM, just stand outside the back bar awning and look on the floor…

Schedule Three is the Stadium Transfer stuff. Something I imagine we must have spent the best part of a year on. Anyway, we can’t start work building NPL until it’s been officially signed and LBM given a copy.

Galliard can fill up to 110 properties before they have to pay us £3.5m. Then another £3.5m for 220, another £3.5m to 330, and the rest of the £14m when 440 are occupied. If you’re thinking of investing in an NPL property, bear that in mind – the quicker you do, the quicker we get our money.

Until 100% of the Affordable Housing units are built, they can’t occupy 50% of the private houses. Somehow, I expect they’ll be constructed very quickly.

There’s the usual stuff about contributions towards the squash club, bus stop etc, on-site parking and anything else you can read if you’re that interested in it. Also, we’ll have to share that street next to the ground with the general public during matchdays.

God help them. Or us.

The bits about stadium covenants are something for lawyer types to salivate over, although to my untrained eye it all looks a matter of procedure. Though we’d have to resubmit updated transport assessments if we somehow ever needed 15000.

Likewise, co-ordination of demolishing and construction all seem to be a case of writing to inform various parties – along with the vague-sounding “Reasonable Endeavours”. In fact, going through these s106s, that what a great deal of it simply is.

Who fancies being a Public Liason Officer, by the way? There needs to be one, and it’ll be somebody who AFCW will be dealing with on a regular basis. Although we’d have to give them plenty of info that they will require for various things.

Insert snark here.

Oh, and we’ve got an “Expert” to deal with any disputes. I’m under no illusions that something this complex won’t go through without some hitches, and it’s more important to ensure they don’t hold us up any longer than necessary.

There’s a big bit on when money should be paid, and to whom. There’s a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, and one thing is clear – Galliard aren’t going to be that rich from it.

There’s an awful lot of legalese on stadium transfer. Admittedly, I stopped reading it after a couple of sentences, but I’m sure it all makes sense. It’s probably the most important part of the document, AFCW wise, simply because of what happened with the original place.

And that’s really about it. It’s a legal document, is probably about three times longer than it otherwise needs to be, and has doubtless given many headaches and the legal teams a new Mercedes each for Christmas.

One thing the s106s doesn’t do is what we’re still really waiting for – they won’t give us any indication on what the specifics of parking etc will be.

That’s going to come under the Stadium Management Plan, which is where we’ll find out not only that but coach management (the vehicle, not our manager) and other things related to the stadium.

Sure, there’s the CPZ issue, and this is where people like the WPRA can make themselves useful for once. If they want people not to park in their shangri-las, now is their time to put the barriers up.

But you can wait for that. Just like we’ve waited two years for us to reach this very stage…