South London families say their town is a ‘dump’ with few good shops and serious crime problems – despite it being named one of the capital’s up-and-coming ‘property hotspots.’

Over the next few years, the face of Mitcham is expected to drastically change, with hundreds of new flats in the pipeline.

Completed in 2018, the town centre benefited from £6 million of investment over five years from the mayor of London and Merton Council.

With its good connections to Central London, the area was dubbed “one to watch” for first-time buyers in 2020.

Property website Yopa also described the South London suburb as an up-and-coming area set to “become a property hotspot”. 

The estate agent Foxtons says the average house price in Mitcham is £515,640.

But Younas Mohammad, who has run a fruit and veg stall in the square for the past 15 years, takes a less rosy view of the area.

He thinks Mitcham has become more dangerous in recent years.

The 55-year-old said: “Before I never saw crime then one day I went to the toilet and when I came back someone had taken two boxes. That is daylight robbery.”

On a Wednesday morning, Mr Mohammad was the only stall in the market square and he fears he may not be able to keep trading as the cost of goods has increased, reducing his profits.

A group of locals having their morning coffee said bringing a full market back to the town would be a positive thing for the area.

Pointing to a group sitting under the clock tower, Jess Stevens, said: “The biggest problem in Mitcham is the alcoholics.”

The 25-year-old added: “I care very much about this community. I started a petition last year for more CCTV around here after I was attacked a few years ago.

"There was no CCTV and the guy got away with it.

“I think we need more homes but at the same time there is not enough in the area for kids or enough good shops.

"There needs to be more stuff for the community  and a safer area for the community.”

A 69-year-old man, who has lived in the area his whole life, called Mitcham a “dump” and lamented old shops closing their doors, including F Strowger, which closed in April after more than 80 years in the town centre.

However, Annette Ourno, 37, works in a shop in Mitcham and thinks police have been good locally on cracking down on crime.

She said: “I think the area is good, apart from a few instances. I generally feel safe but probably wouldn’t at certain times at night.”

Billy Newton, who has lived in Mitcham for the past five years loves the sense of community and thinks it is a great place to live.

The 78-year-old said: “It is a diverse community and I get on with everyone well.

"Where I live if people don’t see me in the morning they knock and see if I am alright.

“We need new flats for the homeless people. I think new flats would be a good thing.

"I would like to see more police in the community to educate people to get that sense of community.”

Despite being revamped, the area around the clock tower is a well-known spot for street drinkers to congregate.

In September, the council extended a public space protection order (PSPO) for another three years.

This means police can confiscate booze, and the council is using a private security firm to crack down on anti-social behaviour and report back to the authority.

Two estates in Mitcham, Ravensbury and Eastfields, are set to be given a makeover by Clarion.

Merton Council transferred its social housing stock to the housing association in 2010.

There are a total of three estates being revamped across the borough where 1,000 existing homes will be demolished and replaced with 1,800 new homes.

As well as new social housing the new developments are set to provide affordable homes for rent and private sale.

There are also huge plans afoot for hundreds of new homes on the old Mitcham Gasworks site half a mile from the town centre.

Developer St William has plans for up to 650 homes on the disused site but full plans are yet to be submitted.

In Merton Council’s latest local plan there is a focus on encouraging more people to use Mitcham town centre for shopping and socialising over the next ten years.

It reads: “Good quality housing could encourage young professionals into Mitcham bringing increased spending power.

"More people using the town centre will have knock on social and environmental effects, including greater support for existing local businesses, allowing them to expand and create new jobs.

“It will also make the centre more attractive to new businesses, providing a wider range of services for residents and workers.

"Improvements to the business offer, leisure opportunities shops and services will reduce the need for surrounding residents to travel further afield.”