• Rail planners stymie Meridian Water link

Enfield planners have lost their bid to ensure a good rail service for the borough’s new Meridian Water regeneration scheme.
The project, which should start construction next year, features a new rail station on the main line to Stratford and Liverpool Street, replacing the existing Angel Road station on the line. Enfield was keen to ensure a good service, and so wanted that commitment enshrined in the new tender for East Anglia train services.
However, the Department for Transport has refused to accede to the request for at least four trains per hour to serve the new Meridian Water station. Enfield failed to convince the High Court to change the DfT’s decision, and an appeal in May went the same way. Now, the Supreme Court has decided the same way, with three judges arguing the case “does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered at this time”.
At appeal, Enfield had argued a regular service was key to the success of the project. “The interested developers … are said to regard this four train per hour service as crucial and, therefore, the regeneration is at risk if the four train per hour service is not specified as a train service requirement.”
The council has widely declared there will be a new Meridian Water station, with services from it launching in 2018. There is a commitment from the borough and partners, it says: “A funding package has been secured with key stakeholders including the GLA and Network Rail which includes funding for a third rail track and a new Meridian Water station by 2018 – both of which will increase train frequency to the area and enable the potential for Crossrail 2 by 2030.”
The borough is continuing to press ahead with the project, and in July completed another land transaction, purchasing Phoenix Wharf as it buys in the land needed for the scheme. They now own 18ha of the 85ha total. The authority aims to gain consent for elements of the scheme, before selling on the consented sites to its development partner. Much of the site is currently in industrial use, and will be upgraded to accommodate a predominantly residential scheme.
In May, the council revealed it had selected a development partnership of Barratt London and Segro, to help take the project forward. The 85ha site should accommodate 10,000 homes and around 6,000 permanent jobs, with housing zone status granted to ease planning approvals.
Ahmet Oykener, Enfield’s cabinet member for housing & housing regeneration commented at the time: “It is incredibly exciting that we have appointed Barratt London & SEGRO as their development partner to make Meridian Water a reality. Now we can start getting boots on the ground and proceed with this transformational project for Edmonton and the wider area and create a truly world class development which will improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of people.”
And the borough’s cabinet member for economic regeneration & business, Alan Sitkin, said: “Meridian Water will give an enormous boost to the construction industry both in London and the United Kingdom, creating thousands of specialist jobs as we create a legacy of opportunity, investment and employment in London.”
In May, the borough rushed to approve an emergency budget, after it emerged that land owners might sell their sites to private buyers instead.
Meridian Water was one of mayor Boris Johnson’s “City in the East” sites in the Upper Lea Valley. Along with northern neighbour Ponders End, and Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Lane to the south, the aspiration was that these sites would deliver 20,100 homes and 15,000 jobs. Those aspirations could well be breached, with Meridian Water alone now likely to support 10,000 homes, double the previous 5,000 units estimated.

LPA Perspective: There’s a clear danger that Meridian Water’s increased number of residents will have little option but to drive onto the busy North Circular, to move away from their new homes.
Once again, the railway planners seem to be in danger of stifling a major regeneration project in London. Having watched as poorly planned rail depots cut through the proposed centre of Old Oak Common, now we have the prospect of the residents of Meridian Water looking on as commuter trains sweep past their new front doors without stopping. What a bonkers waste of existing rail infrastructure.
It is to be hoped that the bidders for the new rail franchise will spot the opportunity to sell lots more tickets to the new residents, and can plan a regular service for Meridian Water. Such a move would also doubtless please Barratt, who will be able to broaden the appeal of the new homes they build for sale, if they are an easy commute to the city centre.

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