A report by Merton Council's Green Spaces Team on the future management of the former Atkinson Morley Hospital Metropolitan Open Land was presented to the Cabinet Committee on 16 January 2012.
It made recommendations for the site which Berkeley Homes will gift to Merton for the creation of a new, public park (Morley Park) for the benefit of the whole community.
The Cabinet confirmed that the management model for Morley Park should include public access, provision of sport and recreational pursuits and protection and enhancement of its biodiversity interests. The report states that the process for selecting the management option should be reasonable, fair and transparent. The Council’s default position is for management by Merton’s Green Team (Parks Department), with an expressed intention that “future access to the sports facilities at Morley Park be made available to Ursuline High School as a matter of priority for the school’s use as sports and educational space. The school has expressed interest in either managing the facilities directly or, in forming a partnership with the local authority in order to do so with an interest in leasing the playing fields and pavilion from the Council for a period of 10 years.
Another option set out in the report was the intention of Morley Park Trust, a registered charity, to bid to take a long lease for management of the MOL under the provisions of the new Localism Act. Morley Park Trust has been working for a number of years to prepare a team and business plan for management of this unique, new open space for public benefit in perpetuity.
Berkeley Homes will contribute a dowry of £360,000 as a capital sum to supplement the early years’ management. It is covered by Condition that the dowry should be securely ring fenced and dedicated to the enhancement and management of the park. A number of schools in the Borough who are without adequate sports pitches have also expressed a wish to be able to use this new amenity.
It is expected that the new park and sports facilities will be complete by September 2013, once the the first of the new houses Berkeley will be building on Copse Hill are ready for occupation.
Council officers will prepare “a broader report on the potential opportunities available from community trusts” in the summer.