16 March 2018: 11:22 am
The big build
The private and public sectors in Merton are working together to not only build the number of homes the borough needs, but to drive forward development projects with benefits for both new and existing residents. By Lucy Clarke
"The need for a marriage between the public and private spheres has never been greater", according to Paul Quinn, director of the Merton regeneration project for Clarion.
"The borough and London as a whole face unprecedented housing need," Quinn says. "And that is especially true of affordable homes. As the largest registered landlord, a major landowner in Merton and a partner of the council, Clarion Housing Group is committed to investing in existing affordable housing in Merton and to building thousands of new homes over the next decade. But we can only do this with the support of the council."
According to Quinn, Merton is well-placed to use its planning powers to ensure the building of new homes and that neighbourhoods achieve the best outcome in terms of design, community facilities and, critically, increased supply of affordable homes.
"Our experience in dealing with the council on these matters confirms their commitment to quality and their long-term ambition for the borough as a whole," he says.
"The challenge faced by both the council and housing developers is to bring forward new homes while ensuring as much affordable housing as possible can be delivered, against a backdrop of fluctuating house prices, potential Brexit impact on labour supply and material costs and political change."
As part of a massive regeneration project in the borough, Clarion is planning to build around 2,800 new homes over a 12-year period.
The housing group is set to replace 1,000 existing homes and add about 1,800 new, additional homes across three neighbourhoods: Eastfields, High Path and Ravensbury.
Built in the early 1970s to the north east of Mitcham town centre, Eastfields is a neighbourhood of 465 houses and flats, some with balconies, garages and small gardens.
Clarion's masterplan promises between 780 and 800 energy-efficient homes, traditional streets with front gardens to create safer routes for residents, a wide range of houses, maisonettes and flats and a private outdoor space for each home – whether that means a garden, balcony or terrace.
The housing group is also committed to providing public open space, including a large central green area, communal courtyards and new play areas.
There are currently over 600 homes at High Path and a range of housing types from 1940s blocks to 1970s towers. Most homes are flats, but there are also maisonettes, townhouses and terraces in the neighbourhood.
The proposals for a new neighbourhood at High Path would deliver around 1,600 energy-efficient new homes in a variety of house types including flats, duplexes, maisonettes, mansion blocks, mews houses, townhouses and multi-generational houses.
It will also provide new homes with wheelchair access and the flexibility to meet changing family needs, private outdoor space for every property, a central neighbourhood park with links to surrounding areas and new and improved community facilities, which will be used for meetings, events, classes and clubs.
In March 2017, Clarion received planning permission for the first 134 homes to be built on High Path.
The full version of this article appears in the third issue of Future Merton magazine