Plans to restore Merton Priory - site of the first English Parliament - and turn it into a top London tourist attraction have run into the ground.

Council leader David Williams proposed to improve the site around Merton Abbey Mills and beneath the SavaCentre by burying electricity pylons and laying hidden cable but was defeated by opposition councillors on the grounds of cost last month.

However Coun Williams has launched a campaign pushing for the move, criticising the “short sighted” objections.

He said: “Yes this is an expensive plan and no, it's not going to happen tomorrow but what we have to do as a council is to look at how we can turn it [the Priory] into a hi-tech industrial park.”

Coun Williams admitted it was the Conservative Council who approved the development 25 to 30 years ago, but stressed the need for council to work together and stop playing the 'blame game'.

But he criticised the lack of ambition and forethought in abandoning the proposal without due consideration.

The proposal estimated the project would cost about £30m. But Merton mayor Councillor Nick Draper, trustee of the Merton Priory Trust, said the amount was “haplessly optimistic,” considering the cost of burying 40 pylons at the Olympic site in east London was in the region of £250m.

He said: “It would be lovely in a perfect world to be able to remove the pylons. But it is really a matter of priorities for us and for Merton.”

Merton Priory, where the first English statute law was passed, is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a site of national importance by English Heritage and the UK Government.