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Agenda item

Merton Character Study


Katherine Fox, Urban Designer, and Tara Butler, Programme Manager, gave a presentation on the Merton Character Study and Small Sites Toolkit currently being consulted on. The presentation is attached to this report.


Katherine said that the Character Study was not just based on the built environment but also has layers including people, history, natural environment, communities, socio-economic and environment. Neighbourhood areas were drawn from the views of residents. In Morden environment and transport had scored highly. There is more detail for each ward, including potential growth.


Small sites are those less than 0.25 hectares and in Merton they have a critical role. In the last 15 years 62% of new homes were built on these small sites. The Small Sites Toolkit sets out the issues developers should consider including themes such as ‘Made in Merton’, ‘Fit for Purpose’, ‘People First’ and ‘Economic and Sustainable’. The aim is to improve the quality of developments on small sites.


Both the Character Study and the Small Sites Toolkit consultations are open until 23 March 2021.



A resident asked about back garden developments and Tara explained that Merton generally does not accept applications on green space, but the guide provides guidance for those considering an application on a small site.


A question was asked about the future of the Burn Bullock and Cricket pavilion which is under under threat from landlord and if Merton would consider a Compulsory Purchase Order. Tara said the guide should help improve any applications from the landlords by providing clear guidance on the quality. CPOs can only be down in particular circumstance so it would depend on the legal rights. Future Merton is happy to continue to engage with the club.


A resident asked of the tool kit and character study addresses accessibility, needs of intergenerational families, and secondary routes. Tara said these issues are covered in the new Local Plan.


A resident said there were distinctive community areas that had been included in the same neighbourhoods for example Phipps Bridge has been linked to Church Road. We would welcome feedback on these issues in the consultation.


A resident asked if the plans cover the need for affordable homes, Tara explained these documents cover the look of buildings, the Local Plan will address the need of affordable homes. Another resident said that planning decisions currently allow buildings that do not reflect current character and again this feedback to the consultation is helpful. This toolkit will address quality on small sites as this makes up the majority of development.


A resident asked if whether local churches were notified of plan-making consultations. If anybody or any organisation would like to be notified of public consultations on plan-making and planning guidance they are welcome to contact us and we will add them to the consultation database. We can’t add or retain contact details without the person or organisation explicitly opting in. There are two main ways to do this:

  • Complete the online survey “Subscribe to the Local Plan consultation database” available on Merton Council’s Local Plan webpage here: Local Plan (
  • Register for email alerts about council-wide consultations (this will allow the user to select different council-wide areas of interest such as education, the environment, climate change matters, as well as plan-making) Get involved in Merton



Supporting documents: