AFC Wimbledon get boost in Plough Lane return bid

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium

AFC Wimbledon will be able to submit a planning application for a new stadium at their spiritual home, Plough Lane.

An independent report for Merton Council has confirmed the site of Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium could be used for 'sporting intensification'.

"There is still a long way to go and a lot of hard work to be done," Dons chief executive Erik Samuelson told the club website.

"But this is a significant moment in our plans to return to Wimbledon."

He added: "We can now move to the next stage of the process."

Last September, Wimbledon submitted plans to redevelop the Greyhound Stadium, proposing an 11,000-capacity ground which could later be expanded to 20,000.

The construction of 600 homes in conjunction with Galliard Homes was also part of their redevelopment plans.

Plough Lane
Wimbledon FC's old Plough Lane ground is now a residential development

Merton Council received other proposals on the future of the site, including a suggestion for a new greyhound stadium, as part of their "call for sites", which asked for suggestions for sites which have the potential for development or redevelopment within the borough.

The council had designated the site for 'sporting intensification' and that has been endorsed by an independent inspector.

AFC Wimbledon will now refine their plans for a public consultation and subsequently submit a planning application.

The Dons see a move to Plough Lane, and Merton, as a return to the club's rightful home.

The original Wimbledon FC were forced to leave Plough Lane in 1991 following the publication of the Taylor Report which, in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, recommended that all top-flight sides should play in all-seater stadiums.

The club shared Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace until 2003, when they moved to Milton Keynes, having been given permission to relocate by an independent commission a year earlier.

AFC Wimbledon, formed in 2002 in response to the relocation, have played all their home games at Kingsmeadow, also home to Kingstonian, and took over the leasehold of the ground in March 2003.