A South London town branded a “dump” is one of the capital’s most sought-after locations for property developers, with new-build homes fetching up to £500,000 on the market.
Mitcham, in Merton, southwest London, is located on the outskirts of Croydon, and, being between zones three and four, many people may look over the area.
Residents have even complained about feeling unsafe due to rising crime, with reported thefts and even assaults leaving people nervous.
But the area’s wealth of connections to central London means it is on the cusp of a local boom.
Developers plan to revamp three estates across the borough of Merton, with thousands of incoming new homes and hundreds to replace local disused gasworks.
In 2020, two years after Mitcham received a coveted £6million town centre facelift courtesy of the Mayor of London and Merton Council, the town was dubbed “one to watch” for first-time buyers.
Merton will undergo additional changes over the next few years, with 1,000 homes to be demolished across three estates and replaced with 1,800 new builds.
The new homes will include social housing and affordable private rentals or purchases.
Property developers St William have outlined plans to build 650 homes on the site of the Mitcham Gasworks, a 5.67 acre (246,985 square feet) plot of land near the town’s centre.
The prospect of more affordable property in the area will likely appear to many residents, as, according to Foxtons estate agents, the average house price in Mitcham is currently £515,640.
Locals are counting on more than just a facelift, as several have raised concerns about a spate of local crimes.
Younas Mohammad, 55, who owns a fruit and veg stall in Mitcham’s town centre, told MyLondon he was the victim of “daylight robbery” once when thieves stole boxes of his produce when he went to the toilet one morning.
Jess Stevens, 25, started a petition calling for more CCTV after she was assaulted in 2020, as the attacker was able to get away with the act.
One 69-year-old called the area a “dump”, while others who “generally feel safe” in the community admit they “probably wouldn’t” go out “at certain times at night”.
Merton Council hopes the housing boom will “encourage young professionals” who bring “increased spending power” into Mitcham and that they could have a “knock-on” effect on the local society and environment.