Residents’ vision for Morden calls for balance of old and new

Merton Council’s consultation on its 15-year regeneration plan for Morden shows a large majority of respondents support the council’s overall vision for the town.

This first stage of the consultation process reveals residents are supportive of the overall vision, which proposed change and significant development in the town centre. However, results also show that change needs to be in balance with preserving Morden’s 1920s art-deco suburban character.

Positive points respondents raised about Morden included good public transport, quality green spaces and parks and good leisure facilities. Negative points focused on the poor range of shops and how this affects the economic performance of the town centre. Other negative comments included the impact of the bus station and the one-way system on the town centre, lack of evening or family entertainment and places to socialise, absence of public toilets, shabby shop fronts and a shortage of quality housing.

The main conclusions of the consultation included the following:

82% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that reorganising the bus area outside Morden tube station would improve the interchange between transport services and benefit London Road. Many felt that the area around the tube station is overcrowded and that Morden needs a town square or civic space where people can spend time. One of the biggest issues for visitors to Morden is the lack of space for pedestrians.

Respondents were keen to keep the green spaces and parks as they are, as well as Morden Hall Park, the leisure centre and library.

There was strong agreement (88%) that more tree planting would be one way to improve the town centre.

When asked which sites or locations they would like to see, 36% of all respondents wanted the office block above Morden tube station and land to the rear redeveloped but were keen to see the iconic Charles Holden station design retained. A further 28% wanted to see the whole of the town centre redeveloped.

When asked what would make them use Morden more, 28% respondents of all respondents said that they would spend more time in the town if there were a better range of shops. 17% wanted improved sporting and leisure facilities and a further 15% called for better evening entertainment opportunities.

The majority of people who come to Morden use the town as a transport interchange between bus services and the underground.
63% of respondents supported the idea of more housing above shops in the town centre.

When asked about the importance of economic, environmental and social sustainability, 92% of respondents agreed that this should be at the core of the regeneration strategy for Morden. 82% thought it important that Morden’s energy needs should be generated from renewable sources.

73% of respondents agreed that walking, cycling and public transport should be made a priority to reduce car travel. A wish for a Tramlink extension to improve access between Morden and Wimbledon was also highlighted.

Using the consultation results, the council will develop a series of options for the long-term regeneration of Morden town centre, detailing plans for buildings and their uses, streets, public spaces, green spaces, transport links and community facilities. A second phase of public consultation is planned for summer 2009.

Merton Council cabinet member for regeneration Councillor Diane Neil Mills said: ‘We want to get as many residents as possible involved in shaping Morden and making it a destination where people want to spend their leisure time. Morden’s location on the Northern Line is a real asset for the town, making the commute to central London very convenient, yet Morden also has the advantage of being only a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Surrey countryside. We’ve got so much more planned for Morden, including investment in shop front refurbishment, more provision for cyclists and further events for the community to enjoy.

‘I want to reassure residents that there will be every opportunity to have their voice heard in the second consultation on the future of Morden later this year. We want to put the needs of our residents first by developing a vibrant future for Morden, and through consultation with local people we can ensure that everyone’s views are considered.’

Immediate-term initiatives
Taking into account the consultation results and in addition to the longer term physical regeneration of Morden the council has set out a programme of immediate-term initiatives.

Refurbishment, extra cycle parking, repaving and community toilet scheme
These include the recently refurbished civic centre piazza with new planting. Later this year new bins, benches and lighting will be installed in Morden and Transport for London funding is already helping with the repaving of Morden Court Parade. Extra cycle parking facilities will also be provided in London Road and the council is negotiating the removal of unnecessary guard railing from this area. To resolve the lack of public toilets, a community toilet scheme is to be implemented in Morden to provide members of the public with facilities that are safe and clean.

Support for local businesses
The council is also providing support to local businesses through its shop front improvement grant. Businesses can apply to the council for up to £5,000 funding and must commit the same amount themselves to finance the refurbishment of their shop front. In an additional move to support local businesses the council has worked with TfL to distribute leaflets on vehicle waiting restrictions in the town centre to help them plan deliveries.

A promotional brochure is also due to be produced which will include advertising by a range of local businesses.