No deals have been struck as a result of a tax-payer funded trip to France earlier this year but initial talks with developers are now ongoing, the Wimbledon Times has revealed.

In March, leader of the council Stephen Alambritis, Councillor Martin Whelton and two unnamed regeneration officers were flown off to Cannes to take part in MIPIM, a four-day real estate exhibition.

It came to light shortly after that £1,800 of tax-payer money was spent on each ticket, coming to a total of £7,200.

The council said at the time that the purpose of the trip was to broker relationships with investors and funders interested in the regeneration of Morden and to raise awareness of the borough as a whole. It has since added that its role was not to agree deals for its own land, as its land-holdings "are limited."

A Freedom of Information Request in July by the Wimbledon Times showed that no deals - by the council or otherwise - had been made as a result of the trip.

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Another follow-up FOI by the newspaper in November has now shown that some progress has been made, in large part surrounding the regeneration of Morden town centre.

Asked to disclose if any deals had yet been made, the council said that follow up meetings had taken place and there are pre-planning discussions underway for the following sites and with the following developers:

Hadley Developments - "Initial pre-planning discussions underway on a site in Colliers Wood," the council said.

"The site is commercially confidential as the proposal is subject to planning and not yet in the public domain. This is not a council owned site; but discussions at MIPIM have led to planning activity and potential investment for new homes. A planning application is expected in early 2020."

Berkely Homes - "Pre-planning discussions now underway for housing on a major brownfield development site in Mitcham," the council continued. This site is the site of the former Mitcham gasworks at 49 Seagas House, Western Road.

"Three other developers who we engaged with at MIPIM have subsequently expressed interest in being a development partner for the delivery of Morden Town Centre. The procurement of a development partner for Morden is set out in the Cabinet report of November 11, 2019."

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Both Hadley Developments and Berkley Homes were approached for comment.

Merton Council’s director of environment and regeneration, Chris Lee, said: “We’re an ambitious council, and it’s vitally important for us to raise the profile of the borough and to attract the attention of developers, investors and promote development opportunities that will meet our regeneration needs.

"Events like MIPIM are crucial to meeting this goal, and I’m glad that our attendance has meant that we’ve been able to start a dialogue between multiple developers and local landowners.”

2019 was the first time Merton Council attended the event and went as part of a London Councils delegation.