Merton councillor admits selling housing stock ‘worst mistake’ the authority made – South London News

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor has admitted selling off the authority’s council housing stock could have been “one of the worst mistakes” it made.

Merton councillor Andrew Judge’s comments come as the council looks to build 400 new “genuinely affordable” homes on council land in the next four years.

At the end of August, the council agreed to spend £300,000 reviving four planning permissions from its failed development company Merantun Development, which was closed down in January 2021 after it invested £2m into the business.

The council will consider whether to build these 93 homes itself or get a housing association to do so.

If Merton council takes on the task, the first four schemes in Mitcham and Morden could cost up to £29.5m to develop.

In March 2010, the local authority transferred more than 6,000 homes, all of its social housing stock, to Clarion Housing Group.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday night Cllr Judge, who is the cabinet member for housing, said it has been about 40 years since the council built any properties itself.

He said: “It could be said that one of the worst mistakes we ever made was to transfer our housing stock out of our housing revenue account in 2009/10.”

At the meeting, the cabinet agreed not to “dispose of the first four sites for private sale” and instead allocates the sites for affordable homes, delivered either by the council itself of a housing association.

Last year, shocking conditions were exposed on the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, which is one of three set to be redeveloped by Clarion. Residents there say they are still plagued with damp, mould and rodent infestations.

Last month, a spokesman for Clarion said it had invested £2.3 million in maintaining properties on the estate, including “major upgrades” to the roofs. The first phase of regeneration work is set to begin in 2023 after planning permission was granted in April.

Pictured top: A CGI of the plan for 21 new flats on the Elm Nursery car park in Mitcham (Picture: Merantun Development Ltd)

Recommended For You