Merton agreed to allocate more than £1.27million for 24 community projects bidding for monies from the Neighbourhood Fund at a cabinet meeting on 8 November. Twenty-two of the bids were from new projects while another couple were top-ups of previously successful applications to the fund.
Among the schemes allocated money are the refurbishment of the Pollards Hill Bus Shelter (£150,000); the provision of a café in Sherwood Park to support elderly and young people, plus mini-golf (£60,000); and £50,000 towards a dedicated arts space at Merton Priory Chapter House for young people.
This is the third year that the council has dispensed funds which represent 15% of the Merton Community Infrastructure Levy. Since the council began collecting it in 2014, we have received £5.6million, with £4million of that having been spent on or approved for projects.
One of the key priorities in assessing bids was to see how they would contribute to Community Plans, especially as regards Bridging the Gap – our aim to tackle inequalities across the borough. The 2020-26 plan aims to improve life outcomes in the most deprived wards in the east and south of the borough compared to other wards.
Since a Cabinet decision in 2019, a portion of Neighbourhood CIL receipts has been apportioned to the Ward Allocation Scheme, which allows each ward to spend up to £15,000 on smaller projects within their boundaries to benefit residents.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said: “We’re delighted to allocate funds to such a diverse range of projects, from support for Community Champions through to improving the Colliers Wood playground, Merton Garden Streets and the New Horizons Centre in Pollards Hill.
“This year we have also put Covid-19 recovery and combatting climate change as major priorities for funding. We have also listened closely to the feedback from the recent Your Merton consultation and as a result we are investing more in local neighbourhood projects
“I would like to thank everybody who spread the word about the consultation and who submitted bids and would encourage those who weren’t successful this time to consider future applications.”
We will be profiling all of the projects which secured funding over the next few weeks, and the full list of successful applications can be found here.