Homeless people are thought to have moved into Colliers Wood’s hated tower, as more questions are raised over the building’s future.

At a public meeting last week more than 100 residents voiced their anger at the condition of the 17-storey structure - which they claim is crumbling dangerously and has become home to rough sleepers.

This week Merton Council said the netting which covers parts of the tower is enough to make the High Street building safe.

MP Siobhain McDonagh, who organised Thursday night’s meeting, said the building’s owner Asif Aziz was happy to let it decay until he was given more generous planning permission for the site.

She said: “He can sit on the property for a very long time. The more he sits on it, the more desperate people become.”

A spokesman for the tower’s owner said they were working to start a development on the site despite the difficult economic climate - and warned Ms McDonagh’s words were “not helping anyone”.

Michael Hughes, head of development at Criterion Holdings, said the company was in discussion with council planning officers about a new project and would talk to the community more when firm plans were in place.

During last week’s meeting at the Mertonvision centre in Clarendon Road, some residents said the council should try to buy the tower under a compulsory purchase order - but councillors warned this was unlikely to succeed without commitment from other developers to immediately take it off the council’s hands.

The building was voted the ugliest in London in a 2006 BBC poll.

Councillor Diane Neil Mills, cabinet member for finance and regeneration, said: "The current economic conditions have slowed down development throughout the UK, including in Merton.

"However, we continue to work with the owners to come up with a sustainable solution which will bring about a long-overdue redevelopment of the tower for the benefit of both the residents and businesses in Colliers Wood."