By Toby Porter
A landmark eyesore which has been decaying for decades will be bulldozed for a £62million block with 135 flats and a new YMCA hostel.
Work is expected to start in the summer on the joint venture between YMCA St Paul’s and developer Thornsett.
It is on course to pass the final stage of the detailed planning process this month after it was given planning permission by Merton Council.
The nine-storey hostel will have 121 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and shared kitchens, to promote independent living.
The building will also include an upgraded gym, enlarged studio space for fitness classes, a new children’s space, a café and shops on the ground floor.
The 135 private homes will be built on land next to the hostel.
Mark White, senior development manager from YMCA St Paul’s said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have received final approval for our new hostel in Wimbledon which we hope will improve young people’s lives.
“Our aim is to nurture young people and to help them thrive and we believe this new hostel will aid them in doing that.
“Our current hostel in Wimbledon is no longer fit for purpose as the rooms are too small and doesn’t provide the most pleasant of surroundings.
“We house young people who haven’t had the best start in life and we want to provide a better place in Wimbledon to do that.
“We will build a new hostel that we can be proud of, where our young people will feel valued and thrive.
“Our original plans for the hostel were for a 15-storey building, but we have listened to the local community’s views and changed the design radically as a result.
“We spoke to a lot of individuals and made sure we took on board their reservations and criticisms.
“As a result, nobody voted against the project at the final planning meeting, which was a huge achievement.
“We see ourselves as part of the community rather than just developing housing and we are excited to start building this fantastic building soon.”
Triya Maicha, partner at advisers Devonshires, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this project which will help improve many young people’s lives and provide them with the support they need.
“The planning process has been challenging but it’s great to see that works can finally get underway.”
Mitchell Brand, from Thornsett, said: “At Thornsett we specialise in residential-led mixed-use enabling developments with charitable partners.
“As such, working with YMCA St Paul’s Group has been a perfect fit and, along with the project team, we are on track to deliver an important landmark building at the gateway to Wimbledon Town Centre.
“What give us most satisfaction is that not only will this development provide new homes for those trying to get on the ladder, but it will create high quality accommodation for some of the most vulnerable in society.”
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