Residents rally to oppose ‘hazardous and disruptive’ Merton bus depot plan

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Morden residents are incensed after discovering plans for a new electric bus depot that will be built next to a row of houses.

The plans, submitted by the Go Ahead group, could see up to 43 buses housed in a depot that will sit opposite a busy refuse and recycling centre in Garth Road.

Residents believe the depot would bring seven-days-a-week traffic to an area that already hosts a large industrial estate and the popular 293 bus route, running from Epsom to nearby Morden town centre.

They have also taken issue with the depot’s placement next door to a number of residential properties, including one belonging to an elderly resident.

Fears over the safety of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations have also taken centre stage in their opposition to the plans. They say their concerns have been vindicated by the worrying trend of electric bus fires that have hit the capital in recent months.

The scheme would mean buses that serve three South London routes would have to pass through the busy road so they can be charged at the proposed depot. The routes – numbers 80, 118, and 157 – do not pass through Garth Road but instead connect Morden to Croydon.

The rear of the site at 220 Garth Road, as viewed from the home of neighbouring resident Daniel McGuane (Picture: Daniel McGuane)

Garth Road resident Gerard O’Donoghue said: “Having three other routes that don’t serve this area [passing through] just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a busy road but you do have that time from 6pm to 6am when the bin lorries aren’t coming though.

“The same happens through the weekend. We get that respite this way and we have peace and quiet at the moment, but if this depot comes, it’s going to be 24/7.

“I pass the Colliers Wood depot a lot on my way to work and I often see buses piled up, sometimes 10 across, all trying to get into that depot. Who’s to say that won’t be the case here.”

Noise and disruption appeared to be a particular bone of contention for residents, who have all complained of the noise pollution brought by the HGV lorries, which frequent the road’s industrial units.

Garth Road has been used as a mixed-use road for a number of years. It currently features a large number of semi-detached homes alongside a row of industrial units and the heavily used refuse and recycling centre.

While the campaign group is also worried about the fire risks associated with EVs. This is a concern shared by the London Fire Brigade (LFB), which recently issued a warning over a similar EV bus charging station in Edgware.

The LFB said: “The electric vehicle industry lacks sufficient published fire safety research to determine if the widespread use of EVs is compatible with current UK fire safety regulations and guidance.”

Pictured top: Garth Road residents outside the proposed depot site, which was formerly home to glass manufacturers (Picture: Harrison Galliven/LDRS)

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