Back to the future

Kirsty MaCaulay time travels to 2026, when council-led initiatives have led to dramatic changes in Merton

'Urban forest': one of the many concepts put forward in the Future Wimbledon ideas competition

Merton residents who lived in the south-west London borough a decade ago would struggle to recognise the place if they were to return there today. In 2026, it has become a case study for successful regeneration, with experts from around the world visiting to learn how to reinvigorate the suburbs. 

The borough still retains its most renowned landmarks, including its key town centres, historic buildings, vast green areas and 1930s suburbs, but they’re now linked by excellent transport, top class public realm and high quality architecture. 

The population has grown substantially. The housing zone in Morden catalysed the area’s upward trajectory. It is no exaggeration to say the 1,000 homes created in the town centre have transformed Morden into one of south London’s most sought-after and great value suburbs.

The town centre is busier and more dynamic following the increase in population and the resultant growth in demand on local retailers and other amenities. It all offers plentiful business opportunities and also means existing businesses have redefined their offer to satisfy the new demographic in the area.  

Work to significantly enhance the underground station forecourt has reinforced the idea that Morden is a town on the up. The Charles Holden-designed terminus for the Northern line opened in 1926. In its centenary year, the station is once again the standout building in Morden, sensitively redesigned with the 1960s extension removed and replaced with new commercial and business space. As Morden turns 100, the town centre is a neat and bustling place with a rich and varied mix of shops and people.

The bus station, which obscured the front of the underground station, was transformed, paving the way for the new pedestrian-friendly town square and redesigned traffic system. Morden’s public realm overhaul has won many accolades and changed the face of the town centre to make it more modern, open and smarter. The benches, colourful lighting, planting and water features in the new square at the front of the station have turned it into an inviting, safe place for people to meet and hang out – particularly at the weekends when there is a farmers’ market and live music. 

A longer version of this article features in the print edition of Future Merton

Click here to order a copy 

 

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