Half of Meridian Water homes ‘won’t be built before 2039’

Enfield Council admits major obstacle to meeting its 10,000 homes target at Edmonton regen project, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Construction underway at Meridian One, the first of the Meridian Water development sites
Construction underway at Meridian One, the first of the Meridian Water development sites

Only 5,000 homes are likely to be built at Meridian Water over the next 17 years, according to Enfield Council planning chiefs.

The council does not expect to deliver the remaining half of its 10,000 homes target at the Edmonton regeneration site until after 2039 because the mayor of London is unlikely to release the strategic industrial land (SIL) needed for the development in the near future.

Meridian Water is a £6billion, 25-year regeneration project seen as pivotal to Enfield meeting its housing targets. But the council’s draft Local Plan, which sets out proposals to build 25,000 homes in the borough up to 2039, only included capacity for 5,000 homes at Meridian Water when it was published last year

Green Party councillor Charith Gunawardena questioned council officers on the figures during a meeting of the authority’s regeneration and economic development scrutiny panel on Wednesday.

Vincent Lacovara, the council’s head of planning, replied: “The draft Local Plan sets out 5,000 homes up to 2039, and it proposes retaining the strategic industrial land on the east bank of Meridian Water up to 2039. The further 5,000 homes […] would be after 2039. That is a longer-term vision for the totality of Meridian Water.”

The further 5,000 would be “contingent on the SIL at a future time being either partly or in whole de-designated,” he added.

Vincent continued: “What we are not proposing through the draft plan that was consulted on last year is any de-designation of SIL. This is because the London Plan is very clear around protecting strategic industrial land, and we did not see that we would be able to convince the mayor that it was the right thing to do to de-designate SIL within this plan.”

He added that the council was also setting out a plan to meet employment needs, which required the creation of new SIL.

Cllr Gunawardena claimed the publicity for Meridian Water stated that the homes “will be built in 20 years” and was “causing a lot of confusion”. He added that the 5,000 figure in the draft Local Plan was “inconsistent with the message going out”.

Sarah Cary, the council’s executive director of place, said there was “no inconsistency”, as officers had described Meridian Water as a “long-term project” and the council’s financial modelling “looks beyond the plan period”.

But Cllr Gunawardena asked for more clarity. “Where does the 10,000 [homes] come into it, and in what timescale, and is it a realistic thing we have?” he asked. “In the public out there, there are a lot of […] questions that are being asked. Why is there that inconsistency?”

Sarah repeated that she did not think there was any inconsistency, and that she was comfortable with the fact that it might take more than 20 years to deliver 10,000 homes at Meridian Water.

The council is currently analysing around 7,000 responses to a consultation on the draft Local Plan, which has also run into controversy over proposals to build more than 6,000 homes on sites currently designated as Green Belt.

The next iteration of the draft Local Plan is due to be published during the summer, before being submitted to the planning inspectorate for an examination in public. It is set to be officially adopted by the council in 2024.