Councillors pledge to scrutinise Circle Housing Merton Priory housing plans

Wimbledon Guardian: Mobilised: Eastfields residents association has compared development plans to "social cleansing" Mobilised: Eastfields residents association has compared development plans to "social cleansing"

Closer scrutiny of massive redevelopment plans for three social housing estates was agreed by councillors of all parties - as residents on one estate compare plans to "social cleansing".

Council leader Stephen Alambritis has already pledged to keep a "hawk's eye" on housing association Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) as it puts together a 'master plan' design for the estates in consultation with residents.

But at a full council meeting on Wednesday night, a Conservative proposal to increase scrutiny over the development plans was agreed by councillors on all sides.

Residents of Eastfields in Mitcham, Ravensbury in Morden and High Path in South Wimbledon have mobilised residents associations in response to CHMP plans to demolish and rebuild their homes, with Eastfields RA launching a campaign to "stop a programme that has been bereft of consultation and designed to create a middle class colony from which we will be excluded."

Speaking on Wednesday, Conservative Councillor Janice Howard said: "We are not against development of the estates but we do have some serious concerns."

She cited the "widely criticised consultation" up to this point, "poor repairs and maintenance" by CHMP on the estates and the need for "a good mix of housing".

Amendments to last week's cabinet approval for CHMP to draw up plans for regeneration of the estates include regular hearings before a council scrutiny panel and written reports detailing resident satisfaction rates with repairs was recommended by councillors on all sides.

Labour Councillor Peter McCabe, representing Ravensbury ward said: "What I have seen talking to residents is that all the things that were promised have not been delivered and particularly the quality of repairs by CHMP.

"I think it's important to make it clear we will be on the side of residents."

Weighing into the debate, Merton Park Independents Councillor John Sargeant said: "There have been two meetings with Circle Housing in the last four years which is not enough to have an official discussion.

"We need to get a lot closer to Merton Priory Homes."

The planning proposal drawn up over the next six months to demolish and rebuild 900 homes, adding an extra 1,200, will be considered by planning officers next Spring.

Speaking after the meeting, Paul Quinn, CHMP director of regeneration said: "CHMP welcomes the London Borough of Merton's support for the regeneration proposals and its commitment to scrutinising our progress and the approach we adopt.

"This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to deliver much-needed new homes, community facilities and job opportunities that could bring greater prosperity to the borough.

"We are continuing our consultation with residents as their input is instrumental in shaping the emerging plans for revitalised neighbourhoods. There's a long way to go but the regeneration will only be possible with the support of the local authority and residents."

 

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