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Interview: Merton Council's James McGinlay

Wed 12th December 2012, 9:42 am

The Sitematch London team has interviewed London Borough of Merton head of sustainable communities James McGinlay to discuss development and regeneration in his borough.

What is your role at the council?

I am the head of sustainable communities at the London Borough of Merton - with responsibility for leading on the council’s regeneration programme, our non-operational land and property assets, parks and greenspaces and culture, leisure and sport – many of the areas that contribute to the quality of life in the borough.

What type of development is Merton looking for?

Merton is keen to attract quality development that maintains the competitiveness of our town centres, brings employment opportunities as well as increasing our supply of housing in the borough.  Merton provides a high quality of life for residents and businesses alike along with a highly skilled, very young and diverse population.

If an investor or developer is looking for development sites in Merton, what types for sites are available?

There are a wide variety and range of sites available in the borough owned by the council, private sector and other public sector bodies.  The council is in the final stages of its Sites and Policies Development Plan Document that will bring forward a number of sites (over 60) for a range of development opportunities.  These include residential and commercial opportunities in our five town centres (Wimbledon, Colliers Wood/South Wimbledon, Morden, Mitcham and Raynes Park).

What is Merton doing to make the borough more attractive to investors/developers?

With our fifteen year core strategy programme and refreshed economic development strategy in place we are bringing together a suite of policies and actions that will clarify our development opportunities and aspirations.  As well as giving clarity to developers on our key objectives, and maintaining the quality of development anticipated, the proposed growth will provide opportunity for residents and visitors to Merton in a high quality setting.

Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? Are there any sites that will be marketed soon?

A number of residential developments are underway in the Merton from the Berkeley Homes development at the former Atkinson Morley Hospital in the west of the borough to our award winning development by Crest at the former Rowan High School site in the east; over 800 units are actively in construction across the borough.  In addition a major regeneration project will commence in early 2013 with the redevelopment of the former Brown and Root tower in Colliers Wood.  This will provide 150 new homes adjacent to Colliers Wood tube station that, together with the improvements to the public realm in the area, will act as a key, revitalised gateway to the wider Colliers Wood/South Wimbledon growth area.  We will also be marketing a number of sites in Wimbledon town centre during 2013 that will add to the overall town centre offer with mixed use development opportunities.

Could you give an update on the Morden and Mitcham regeneration programmes, and how can Sitematch contribute?

Mitcham in the east of the borough is currently being regenerated with Merton capital funding, the Outer London Fund and Transport for London funding – it will reinvigorate one of our smaller town centres to provide a better range of shopping and services to support the recent growth in new housing starts in a number of sites in the surrounding parts of the borough.  We are also actively working with TFL to look at the opportunities at Morden tube station (the start of the Northern Line) for a residential led, mixed use development that will increase the housing and retail opportunities in Morden that benefit from the excellent transport links.

Sitematch provides a great opportunity to pitch Merton’s many exciting opportunities to developers both large and small and the interest that has been generated from the last two Sitematch events has been very positive – showing that Merton is open for business.

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