Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Enfield Council says its flagship regeneration project will provide the number of homes originally planned – despite big cuts to housing on key brownfield sites.
The number of homes on part of the £6billion Meridian Water scheme has been slashed from 10,000 to 5,000 after the council dropped plans to build on strategic industrial land (SIL). It also reduced the estimated number of jobs provided on that part of the scheme from 6,000 to 1,500.
Changes were made to the Edmonton Leeside Area Action Plan (ELAAP) following a ruling by a government planning inspector. But the council insists Meridian Water will still provide 10,000 homes and 6,000 jobs, with other sites coming forward to fill the gaps.
Councillor Edward Smith, deputy leader of the Conservative group, described the news as a “major setback” for Meridian Water. He said: “The intention was to put homes on strategic industrial land. The Greater London Authority will not allow that until the council provides substitute land.
“I don’t know whether the council can provide alternative sites. They have had two to three years to come up with that. It is a blow for their plans and will have major implications for the viability of the project.”
A council spokesperson said: “ELAAP is not the full Meridian Water plan to deliver 10,000 homes over a 25-year period, but an action plan relating to the Edmonton Leeside area over a shorter 15-year period.
“Other plans will feed into Meridian Water over the lifetime of the project to make up the balance of 10,000 homes. The council is fully supportive of the industrial designation given as part of ELAAP as it gives us the opportunity to raise revenue and facilitate employment opportunities in the short-term.
“The full scale of this project remains unchanged.”
In other Meridian Water news, a developer has been chosen to build the first new homes. Galliford Try will construct 725 homes, with half designated ‘affordable’. They will be built around the new Meridian Water Station – due to open this month – alongside public squares, shops and leisure facilities.
Galliford Try was chosen ahead of L&Q, Peabody and Redrow, after 17 developers lodged bids. The decision marks a key milestone of the project, after previous deals with developers Barratt Homes and Hong Kong-based Pacific Century Premium Developments (PCPD) fell through in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Council leader Nesil Caliskan said: “When we were boldly talking about 50% affordable homes, how we wanted to deliver quickly and not risk overseas developers, we were told ‘you are not going to have much interest’.
“The interest we have found demonstrates that if you have a clear vision of your priorities, you are not scaring off developers but being up-front about what is acceptable.”
Stephen Teagle from Galliford Try said: “We will create an environment for local people to thrive – providing affordable homes, opportunities for start-up businesses to flourish, great public spaces, and a design celebrating the parkland character of the Lea Valley.”
Construction of the first 725 homes is due to be completed by 2022.