Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How Green is Meridian Water? Housing

Meridian Water is Enfield's flagship development. It's supposed to deliver 10,000 homes and 16,000 jobs. And, being on brownfield land, it leaves the Green Belt untouched.

I've studied the Masterplan, approved in July 2013, and I'll apply the criteria in my last post.

Of course, I can only comment on the document. As with many other schemes what we get eventually may be very different. And here the experience of the Council's approach to providing a 'community hub' at the Ritz Parade is fairly discouraging.

And because is a complex scheme I'm going to make this several posts, starting with the central issue - housing.

The Masterplan refers to "5,000 new homes" though more recent Council statements have claimed 10,000. I attended an exhibition on the scheme last year but came away more confused about the numbers.

You can get some idea of the intended residents by looking at the list of travel connections: Heathrow, Stansted and City airports and Cambridge, Stratford and Canary Wharf. It's clear that the focus is on jet-setting bankers and entrepreneurs.

We need more homes, especially for those who can't afford decent homes. Developments are supposed to provide 40% 'affordable' homes but this is a distraction because developers generally find ways to avoid providing so many and more because most so-called affordable homes are not affordable by people on average pay.

In my view this problem is insoluble if numbers continue to rise. It is certainly not soluble without some serious creativity about the interplay between population, housing, finance and benefits. And that probably needs a new national policy - or several!

So, while we work on the broader issue, we can ask for 50% affordable homes. It won't solve the problem but at least those 50% won't be luxury flats for offshore investors!

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