Sunday 25 September 2016

Boris Johnson puts Paschal Taggart back in the race to save London's last greyhound track

Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will review plans for Wimbledon's stadium, which could prove fortuitous for Paschal Taggart
Mayor of London Boris Johnson will review plans for Wimbledon's stadium, which could prove fortuitous for Paschal Taggart

London Mayor Boris Johnson has decided to "call in" plans to redevelop Wimbledon's Plough Lane stadium - a move that could see Irish businessman Paschal Taggart back in the race to save the last greyhound racing track in London.

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Fans of AFC Wimbledon are in shock as Johnson's move could yet upset a unanimous decision by Merton Council approving a redevelopment plan that includes a proposed 20,000 seater football stadium.

The existing greyhound track is currently home to the greyhound racing derby and stock car racing, but is set to be demolished to make way for a new stadium and housing.

The football stadium is part of an approved redevelopment at Wimbledon which will also see Galliard Homes build more than 600 apartments in the area.

The proposal led by Galliard, a Nama debtor, previously received the support of the agency which said Galliard's proposal is "viable, deliverable and most beneficial to the area through its regeneration with primarily sport and residential uses".

Taggart, former chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, wants to demolish the existing stadium and replace it with a new, state-of-the-art greyhound racing stadium as part of a £200m redevelopment plan that includes 250 homes.

"The review renews hope for the greyhound stadium," said Taggart.

Last year Johnson raised concerns about the stadium plans, citing fears over affordable housing, transport and flood risks.

However, the final decision on the stadium's future will now fall to Johnson's successor following mayoral elections on May 5.

Wimbledon Park Residents Association, opposed to plans to build a football stadium, previously came out in favour of Taggart's plan.

But AFC Wimbledon, which says it is surprised by Johnson's review, said there is an overwhelmingly positive case for its new home.

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