A multi-million pound regeneration scheme to build new shops, community facilities and homes in Merstham has been given the go-ahead.

For Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s Planning Committee has given the green light to the big scheme.

The plans are part of a joint initiative between the borough council, Raven Housing Trust and Surrey County Council to improve the Portland Drive area. A new food store and three shops will be built on the council-owned Iron Horse pub site, improving access to every-day essentials and fresh produce. Last month, the borough council announced that Morrisons M local will run the new convenience store when it opens. Ten shared equity flats will be built above, on behalf of Raven, to provide more homes that local people can afford. Four restaurant/take-away units and a new purpose-built community centre will be built on part of 'the Triangle' site, at the junction of Portland Drive and Bletchingley Road. The centre will include a new library, youth skills centre, training rooms, a café, public IT resources and drop-in advice facilities, giving easier access to local services. Natalie Bramhall, borough council executive member for property and regeneration, said: "I’m really pleased that we’ve moved another step closer to providing local people with more accessible facilities, improved grocery shopping on their doorstep and better affordable homes to make the area a nicer place to live.”

Coun Bramhall said: “The next thing will be to choose a developer and we hope building will start in the new year." Surrey County Council cabinet member for business services, Denise Le Gal, said: “It’s great that we can get started on giving local people an exciting mix of new homes, shops and community facilities, that will transform their neighbourhood and boost Surrey’s economy.” Jonathan Higgs, chief executive officer of Raven Housing Trust, said: “I am really heartened by the progress being made on the regeneration of Merstham.”

He said: “Gaining planning consent on the Iron Horse site puts in place another piece of the jigsaw that will see a vibrant new heart at the centre of this community.” Developers will now be invited to tender to build the schemes, with construction expected to get underway in the new year and be complete in winter 2015. Raven has already started building 40 new homes in Purbeck Close - 11 affordable rented, 19 shared ownership and ten for open market sale - and has outline planning permission to redevelop Portland Drive flats and shops to provide 50 market houses and flats, once the other developments are complete. For more details about the Merstham regeneration plan, visit the borough council's website at: www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk