Merton abbey mills update - August 2005

Many congratulations to the Team at Merton Abbey Mills, and John Hawks in particular, for another successful Abbeyfest and the 100th Colour House Concert.

Contrast the 2 building designs

Contrast the 2 building designs [92.1kb]

The buzz generated by the Abbeyfest concerts is palpable, and the streams of people to be seen walking in from all directions, carrying their chairs and refreshments, speaks for the committed and regular nature of the audience.

It is to be hoped that the disciplined nature of these productions, where the music, though loud, finishes promptly at 10.00pm, will not attract protests from the occupiers of the new flats, but be regarded by them as a welcome and unique resource.

The Landscaping under threat already ...

The Landscaping under threat already ... [99.8kb]

The flats on the main site are now almost finished, and it is possible to see the stark contrast between these and the redesigned units on the William Morris car park site, the latter reflecting the proportions of the protected industrial units, while the former trample heedlessly over both the historic and industrial heritages of the site.

Even the two restaurant units show more care and consideration in their design than this.

The freehold ownership of the site is fragmenting, and it is to be hoped that the various investments bodies in question will co-ordinate their management, at least. The deterioration of the landscaping along Bennett's ditch at this early stage is a worrying sign that this may not be happening.

As to the future, we hear that the Merton Abbey Mills site is on the market, at a price of 3.5million. At that price, it is difficult to see how the market can offer a proper early return to the investor, although some institutional investors do take a long term view of these things. We must hope it is the latter type of buyer who is attracted, and who can give John and his team the security which is needed if proper investment in the site's infrastructure is to take place.

... but at least the wildlife doesn't mind

... but at least the wildlife doesn't mind [78.2kb]

The worst scenario would be a purchaser who is unaware of the site's importance and relevance, and is forced by financial constraints to act unfortunately.

Meanwhile, across the road, Savacentre has put up a display of its intentions for its own site.

With all this activity going on, we wish good luck to the Priory Trust team, in the hope they can use this opportunity to negotiate greater access to the Savacentre car park, and, at the very least, be able to mark out the lines of the main Priory church as a permanent reminder of what was and could have been.

Nicholas Hart

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