We need to know what the council’s plans are for Meridian Water

Matt Burn from campaign group Better Homes Enfield calls for the council to finally publish its new masterplan for Meridian Water

The first new homes at Meridian Water were launched in September, but it’s still unknown when or how future phases of the scheme will be delivered to meet the 10,000 target
The first new homes at Meridian Water were launched in September, but it’s still unknown when or how future phases of the scheme will be delivered

We need to know what the council’s plans are for Meridian WaterEnfield Council’s regeneration of Meridian Water, if properly delivered, could help solve the housing challenges faced by many of Enfield’s residents.

For example, it could deliver the affordable homes needed by both younger and older residents, as well as help address the borough’s acute shortage of affordable family homes for key workers.

But is it being properly delivered? This is an important question because this scheme is so big, that failing to properly deliver it would not only be a huge missed opportunity in terms of housing, it would also have very significant financial implications for the council, which could ultimately impact every household in the borough.

Various documents indicate that around 13,000 homes could now be planned for the scheme, and an enormous amount of public money is being spent by the council on the basis that the scheme will deliver 10,000 of these by 2038.

But there is a big problem. The original Meridian Water masterplan formally adopted by the council in 2013 – and all other formal planning documentation including the council’s draft of their proposed new Local Plan – only allow for 5,000 homes. The council’s last attempt to increase the number of planned homes at Meridian Water to 10,000 was refused by a planning inspector in 2018, due to a lack of cogent evidence that 10,000 homes could be built at the site.

Despite this, since 2018 the council has continued to borrow and spend very large amounts of money on the assumption that 10,000 homes will be built and has said that the evidence needed to justify this assumption would be set out in a new Meridian Water masterplan.

The council and a large number of consultants have been working on this new masterplan for five years, and well in excess of one million pounds has been spent creating it. Documents published in 2023 show that they now consider it to be complete and are using it to make decisions, but the masterplan has not been published for public consultation, which is a significant problem.

It’s a problem because the council is obligated to consult a number of statutory consultees about the new Meridian Water masterplan before it can be officially adopted and used as a basis for key decision making. This is standard practice, as it enables the plan to be assessed by a range of outside bodies – such as the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, Thames Water and the Environment Agency – to check it is viable and realistic, for example, in terms of transport infrastructure, flood risks, climate change and appropriate land use.

Furthermore, the council’s ‘statement of community involvement’, a document the council must have by law, also requires it to publish the new masterplan for public consultation to ensure the views of local people are properly considered and incorporated into the new plan.

What does all this mean? The fact that the council hasn’t published the new Meridian Water masterplan for consultation is a serious error. It means they haven’t formally shown whether or not their plan would be acceptable to a range of statutory consultees – whose assessment could stop the plans in their tracks – as happened in 2018. It means that important decisions about Enfield’s future have been made without the council having properly considered or respected the views of local communities and stakeholders. It also means that Enfield Council is continuing to borrow and spend huge sums of public money on the basis of an assumption that may or may not be deliverable, and as a result it risks placing the borough in considerable financial jeopardy, which could harm every household in the borough.

Finally, it means the potential of Meridian Water to help address Enfield’s housing shortages may not be properly realised, at least for the foreseeable future.

We are calling on the council to publish the new Meridian Water masterplan without delay, and to commit to conducting a proper and transparent public consultation about the new plan before officially adopting it.

Better Homes Enfield is a local independent group campaigning for more affordable housing across Enfield. For more information:

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