Meridian Water will have some of the flavour of Hammarby, Thamesmead, and Freiburg when it is finally built out by Enfield Council alongside its key partners in the regeneration project. But above all in this truly landscape-led scheme it will take inspiration from what local people want.
Those were some of the key takeaways from Unlocking Meridian Water, a webinar held on Wednesday and featuring a key presentation by Enfield’s Peter George, the Meridian Water Programme director. In terms of the project’s aspiration of having ‘parklife on your doorstep’, said George, Freiburg in Germany was something the authority can learn a lot from. The team delivering the scheme is also diverse, with 50% BAME, and 50% female, and a Swedish company among the masterplanning team. But the key inspiration will come from those who will be the main beneficiaries. ‘This is a major project on a grand scale, but actually it’s very much focused on local people’, he said.
Presenting the project, George said he wanted ‘the most active and vibrant ground floors of any development in London’, with an extensive use of meanwhile uses to contribute fully to placemaking, and discussions ongoing into bringing film studios to the 85 ha site being led by the council after years of the private sector being put off by fragmented land ownership and a lack of infrastructure. ‘The purpose of meanwhile use’, said George, ‘is to make a serious contribution to placemaking in the area and introduce Meridian Water into the consciousness of Londoners‘.
Claire Bennie of Municipal suggested that the ‘beautiful place’ of Hammarby in Stockholm had similarities in terms of the elements of water and landscape, with Thamesmead offering. And landscape is perhaps the issue they talk about most – even more than the buildings in the offing – during design review meetings Bennie is involved with, as well as being the ‘honest broker between commercial and design tensions’. The landscape architect is ‘front and centre’ on the scheme, she said. ‘It’s not just one of those “landscape-led” schemes; it really is‘.
The session also heard from Al Parra, co-founder of Building Bloqs, which is creating workspace for professional ‘makers’ on a flexible, pay-as-you-go basis, and Vistry Partnerships managing director Matthew Taylor on its provision of 750 homes – a large percentage of them affordable – on the site within five years, along with a ‘flagship skills academy’.
Meridian Water CGI