First-ever Meridian Water residents ‘excited’ to be moving in

Work has finished on 20 council homes which will become the first to be occupied on the Edmonton regeneration site, reports James Cracknell

New Meridian Water residents Sandra Burity and Hussein Nur receive their keys from council cabinet member for housing George Savva (left) and leader Nesil Caliskan (right)
New residents Sandra Burity and Hussein Nur receive their keys from council cabinet member for housing George Savva (left) and leader Nesil Caliskan (right)

The first residents of Enfield Council’s flagship Meridian Water housing scheme say they are “excited” to be receiving the keys to their new council-owned homes.

Twenty families are due this month to move into their London Affordable Rent properties in a block forming part of Meridian One, the first phase of the wider Edmonton housing project.

Sandra Burity and Hussein Nur – both council tenants from Edmonton whose families have been on a transfer list for several years due to overcrowding – attended a launch event this morning (Monday 4th) and received the keys to their new homes from council leader Nesil Caliskan.

Sandra told the Dispatch the move to Meridian Water would make a big difference for her family as her husband and four children currently have to squeeze into a two-bed flat in Edmonton Green. “We are very grateful to be moving in,” said Sandra, who works from home as a caseworker. “I am most looking forward to having the space and for the kids to have their own space, because my eldest is 17 and is still sharing a bedroom.

“My eleven-year-old also starts secondary school tomorrow and she is so excited to have her own bedroom.”

Sandra said she’s followed progress at Meridian Water and thinks it will be a nice place to live. “I remember the train station opening [in 2019] and it is interesting to see how it has changed.”

Hussein has a similar story to tell, as his family of six also live in a two-bed flat, in Upper Edmonton, although he is now retired and his eldest child is 27. “My children have been saying ‘why didn’t we get this new house when we were young!’ There has not been much privacy for them growing up, but now for me it is my retirement house. I am excited to move in, especially for my wife and children.

“We have been waiting for eight or nine years.”

Yemí Aládérun, Meridian Water’s head of development, took the Dispatch on a tour of the new homes and explained they had “gone to town” on fixtures and fittings to ensure they were completed to a high standard – with the extra up-front investment meaning less will need to be spent on repairs in future years.

Each new property has outdoor space, with ground-floor homes also having patios that connect to a shared communal garden. Some new homes are also designed to be accessible for council tenants in wheelchairs and come with internal lifts, adjustable kitchen worktops and accessible bathrooms.

While currently opposite a large construction site where work continues on Meridian One, the first block to be completed is on a new street called Oxeye Way and is directly connected to existing residential streets, meaning the residents will not be isolated from the community.

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Over the next year, 300 of the 977 total homes planned at Meridian One are expected to be completed, with 25% being council-owned homes, another 25% made available as shared ownership, and 50% private sale. A skatepark will also soon be built.

However, work on the remaining 677 homes at Meridian One has been delayed. Although planning permission is already granted, redesigns are now taking place to accommodate second staircases in the scheme’s tallest tower blocks, bringing them in line with expected new government fire safety regulations.

Cllr Caliskan has been leading on Meridian Water since taking the helm at Enfield Civic Centre five years ago – deciding in 2018 to ditch a deal with a master-developer over fears homes would be sold to foreign investors and opting instead to retain overall control of the scheme.

The council leader herself received a gift to mark today’s milestone moment – a plaque that reads “in gratitude for your visionary leadership”. Cllr Caliskan said: “This is a momentous occasion for the Meridian Water project and our plan to build decent, affordable homes in Enfield. Alongside new homes, Meridian Water will invest in Edmonton residents with new leisure facilities, training and job opportunities.

“Seeing the first residents receive their keys for their new homes is a testament to the ambitions and hard work of the people of Edmonton, and this is only the start.”

Nesil Caliskan receives a plaque saying “in gratitude for your visionary leadership”
Nesil Caliskan receives a plaque saying “in gratitude for your visionary leadership”

Talking to the Dispatch later, Cllr Caliskan defended the council’s record on Meridian Water to date and said she “doesn’t understand the criticism” that has been made against the scheme, which includes complaints that it’s behind schedule, over budget, and may not be able to deliver the 10,000 homes the council has targeted.

“The new residents are so delighted with the high quality of the homes,” said Cllr Caliskan. “They look really nice and people want to live in them. We wanted to pick a site [for the first block] that was next to an existing neighbourhood and was accessible from the station – it is really important they are not built in the middle of nowhere.”

Recent concerns have been raised by opposition councillors in Enfield over the council’s growing debt, much of which is tied to Meridian Water, and what rising interest rates and falling house prices could mean for the financial viability of the overall project.

However, Cllr Caliskan insists the “politically brave” decision to borrow hundreds of millions when interest rates were at a “record low” a few years ago meant the council “locked in low rates”. She admits that inflation and rising construction costs in particular are a problem, but that a recent deal with the government to provide an extra £25m towards essential infrastructure – providing £195m in total – means work can go ahead to build new roads, footpaths and parks.

“We always knew the overall scheme would be delivered in phases. What has changed is the economic climate and the government crashing the economy.

“But our phase-by-phase approach means we can respond to the economic challenges.”

Although railway improvement works designed to boost service frequency at Meridian Water Station remain on hold, Cllr Caliskan says these upgrades “were always going to happen later on”.

Asked when the new masterplan for Meridian Water would be made public, with the existing plan now ten years old and largely redundant, the council leader said there was “already a number of documents in the public domain with detailed information” and that it wouldn’t happen before the Local Plan is finalised.

Last month the Dispatch revealed Ikea was marketing its own Meridian Water site as somewhere developers could build up to 3,000 homes. Asked if this might help the council reach its 10,000 homes target, Cllr Caliskan said: “We never assumed Ikea would build homes there […] we don’t own the land and we’re not going to buy it. Ikea has a responsibility to market the site and they will be trying to get as much money as they can.”

Tom Copley, deputy mayor of London for housing and residential development, also attended today’s launch event. He said: “I’m delighted to welcome the first tenants to these new, high-quality council homes at Meridian Water. This impressive development, which is set to deliver 300 homes by the end of next year, will ensure that more Londoners can benefit from the record-levels of council homes we’re building in the capital.

“There is also enormous potential for regeneration and community development in Enfield through the new facilities, jobs and training on offer – helping to build a better, fairer, more prosperous London for all.”

Asked if the Greater London Authority (GLA) would be de-designating the strategic industrial land needed to enable development of 5,000 homes on the eastern side of Meridian Water, Copley told the Dispatch it was something to be discussed “between the GLA’s planning team and the council”.

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