Plans to build a bus lane through the centre of Mitcham are set to go ahead despite opposition from residents and councillors.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Andrew Judge, has decided to press ahead with the controversial plan for Fair Green, as part of the multimillion Rediscover Mitcham project.
The project was given the thumbs up by the council’s Street Advisory Management Committee (SMAC) last month, with the exception of the bus lane which was rejected and Councillor Judge told to reconsider.
But Councillor Chris Edge, Merton Conservatives regeneration spokesman, said he would be asking for the decision to be formally called in - and potentially vetoed - after being informed Coun Judge had signed off on the decision to build the bus lane.
Coun Edge said: “Based on the residents’ opinion and the SMAC’s decision, it seems churlish of Andrew Judge to ignore that.”
Coun Judge was not available for comment but in his decision notice, published by Merton Council this week, he said the bus lane is "central" to providing more footfall to Mitcham town centre shops.
He said: "I have decided not to follow [SMAC's] recommendation, because I believe that what is proposed is a balanced solution that takes into account the need for an active, vital and prosperous town centre as well as the need to preserve coherent green space.
"Fair Green is first and foremost a town centre at an important crossroads. It has been for centuries.
"As a town centre it must attract local people for shopping, community facilities and for
meeting others. If one of those objectives is vitiated then the town centre will not fulfil its
"The proposed bus lane is central to the intended purpose of providing footfall to
support shops. It is also supported by the overwhelming majority of those consulted
John Mansfield, of the Mitcham Society, said he saw surveyors looking at the Fair Green on Tuesday and said he was convinced the council was determined to build the bus lane no matter what.
He said: "I reckon they are going to lose probably one-fifth of the market spaces as a result.
"It is not very big and they are talking about having nice markets in the evenings, but it won't be enough.
"Andrew Judge has never come to any of the meetings we have held about this to explain why this is so important. People are very concerned and every survey we've done shows people are against it."
The call-in meeting, which is open to the public, is at Merton Civic Centre on Thursday, March 7, at 7.15pm in Committee Rooms B, C and D.