Council refuses to say when new Meridian Water masterplan will be ready

Original masterplan was published nine years ago and is no longer relevant, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The original Meridian Water masterplan is nine years old and has been out of date for at least five years
The original Meridian Water masterplan was published in 2013 and has been out of date for several years

Enfield Council has refused to say when a new blueprint for the £6billion Meridian Water regeneration scheme will be published.

The current masterplan for the project – seen as key to regenerating Edmonton and meeting the council’s housing targets – was approved in July 2013, when the scheme was expected to provide only half of the 10,000 homes and 6,000 jobs now planned for the site.

Phases one and two of Meridian Water, set to provide almost 3,300 homes, have already won outline approval. In May last year, detailed plans for phase 1a of Meridian One, providing 300 homes, got the green light, and construction work began in August 2021. Detailed plans for phase 1b and for the first part of phase two were submitted to the council this year.

But despite 5,000 extra homes now being planned and changes being made to the design of some buildings – including a 30-storey tower that is double the size of the tallest block in the outline plans – a new masterplan has yet to be made public. It had been expected to be published this year, but in response to a request from the Local Democracy Reporting Service over when the document was likely be published, the council did not answer the question.

In December last year, officers gave a presentation on several of the themes of the next version of the masterplan during a scrutiny meeting, but opposition councillors expressed frustration when they ran out of time to debate key details.

Matt Burn said his housing campaign group, Better Homes Enfield, had “lots of different concerns” relating to the masterplan, particularly around the de-designation of strategic industrial land (SIL). In 2019, the council backed down on plans to build on SIL, and civic centre planning chiefs later admitted the decision could mean only half of the 10,000 homes planned for Meridian Water would be built over the next 17 years.

Matt said the issue was “problematic because a lot of the council’s plans, not just for the housing and employment numbers but also for the whole design and layout of the scheme, are based around getting the SIL de-designated”.

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He added that the council did not properly set out to a planning inspector how it could de-designate SIL at Meridian Water and indicated it would do so in the next version of the Local Plan, but this had not yet been done.

Matt said that if 10,000 homes could be built at Meridian Water over the next 17 years, the need to build on a large section of the Green Belt in Enfield – as proposed in the council’s draft Local Plan – “disappears”. In addition, he warned that a public park planned for Edmonton Marshes would not be accessible enough unless SIL was de-designated, as it would be separated from housing developments.

Alan Sitkin, who was Enfield’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and business development prior to 2018, said the council originally planned to “move dirty industry out of Meridian Water so there was only clean industry left, and then we would be able to put in more housing”. But he claimed current council leader Nesil Caliskan had “caved in” to the mayor of London and rowed back on plans to de-designate SIL.

Alan said: “That changed the framework, because it meant you no longer had the possibility of putting in as much housing as we wanted to. You can’t put housing next to dirty industry.

“That is a problem because there is less room now for housing than there had been in the previous masterplan, so they are forced to squash more housing into less land, and that changes the finances.”

Alan added that having less available land meant lower profit margins for developers, leading to fewer affordable homes.

Responding to the concerns, Cllr Caliskan said: “In the last four years Enfield Council has turned Meridian Water from an idea into a reality, and we are now overseeing the construction of the first 300 homes for local residents on site.

“We are committed to delivering a sustainable new neighbourhood that regenerates the wider Edmonton area and provides good quality homes and jobs for local people.

“Both the mayor of London and the government are incredibly supportive of our Meridian Water scheme, and we have recently obtained planning permission for the construction skills academy that will support the development.

“In addition, to date Enfield Council has built a train station, achieved planning permission for 3,000 homes and been granted funding worth £170million by the government to take the next phases of this transformational scheme forward.

“So far, local businesses have benefited from £10.9m spent in local supply chains, and 142 local residents have been helped to get into good quality jobs or training courses.

“A project of this scale will take many years to deliver, but the benefits to our borough will be tremendous, and I will continue to champion the creation of new homes and jobs for local people in the places they are needed the most.”

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