Merton to release surplus land for new homes

Merton Cabinet agreed on Monday 6 December to release surplus property assets in the borough, freeing up land which in some cases already has planning consent so that hundreds of affordable homes can be built and bringing in much needed receipts to the council.

The decision frees up nine sites to be sold for the construction of potentially almost 400 new homes.

This move will go some way in the long term to helping the council to achieve its ambitious annual target for new homes of 918 units, as set by the London Plan 2021 – agreed in March 2021, this commits Merton to more than double its previous mark of 411 homes.

The sites have now been declared surplus to council requirement and can now actively be prepared for sale. Working with Cabinet members, the Director of Environment and Regeneration will balance the need for more homes with a requirement to achieve a good price for council taxpayers from a favourable property market.

Four sites which gained planning approvals under the former Merantun Development Ltd will make up the first tranche to be sold, and the council’s aim is to achieve 100% affordable housing on them when they are developed.

As the council has already funded architect, planning and consultation costs and obtained planning permission for these sites, they will be more attractive to affordable housing providers, which also be able to proceed to construction more quickly. It is hoped these will provide 93 units of housing.

Councillor Tobin Byers, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: ““Being able to free up these surplus property assets will allow for us to both meet affordable housing needs and, if there are any receipts, they could support Merton’s future financial stability.

“This is a really important initiative and it shows that we’re serious about tackling the need for affordable housing in the borough for our residents.”

Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said: “We’re delighted to bring these sites to market and allow for the building of affordable properties in Merton. I’m especially happy with the aim for 100% affordable housing on Merantun-designated sites.

“After the initial disposal of these four sites which have already gained planning consent, we’ll be working to release more land to create further opportunities for residents to live in good-quality new housing in Merton.”