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Hartfield Walk Frequently Asked Questions

About the Project

What is Hartfield Walk?

Hartfield Walk is a re-imagined space in the thoroughfare between Blacks and Robert Dyas, with new seating, planting and kiosks with underlying eco-messaging through art, graphics and play. It was created by Love Wimbledon and Firecracker Works and funded by the Merton Council Community Investment Levy.

What are the objectives?

The project aims to provide much-needed seating, extra planting and improved market kiosks for local start-up businesses, alongside an engaging area for children with some educational messaging about the environment.

How did you choose the location and the design?

Hartfield Walk has always been an unattractive and unloved alleyway. Market pitches have been available in this area where small independent locally owned businesses are able to trade. Through research and feedback and local knowledge, it was identified that the town desperately needed additional seating, new planting and the market traders needed help to eliminate the need for noisy, polluting generators.

We worked with a local business, Firecracker Works, experienced designers and creators, to develop a scheme meeting these demands revolving around an eco-message, which we then used to apply for funding. We consulted carefully with the stallholders and worked with Merton Council on the development of the scheme throughout.

How is the project funded?

When new building developments are delivered, a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is paid to Merton Council. This fund is available for local community groups to bid, for improvements to the local area. We were notified that we had been successful in September 2020 with funding of £120,000 (and £5,000 for a project on The Pavement, which we will be commencing soon). Delivering a project like this requires significant design expertise, talent and time and there are many constraints and considerations of working in an urban environment.

Love Wimbledon (who are funded by the businesses of Wimbledon Town Centre) also secured additional support from local landlords and the All England Lawn Tennis Club in order to deliver all aspects of the project.

The Consultation

Why was the project completed while the planning application was still live?

The majority of the project is public realm works and does therefore not require planning permission. The entire installation is temporary, (no foundations and no water supply or drainage) but we were advised in February that we needed to apply for planning permission for the installation of the four market kiosks. A planning application was submitted immediately but took some time to process before it went live.

The town centre had a number of challenges leading up to the re-opening of non-essential retail on 12th April. We took the decision to continue with the project as we did not wish to add to any difficulties for businesses – rather add a new outdoor space for people to enjoy when they do return. All feedback received from the planning application will be carefully considered as we understand the process is out of sync.

Town centres have been impacted significantly by Covid and need all the help they can get. Government guidance has been fast changing to enable high streets to reactivate themselves to attract visitors. A new extension supported a series of measures to help hospitality businesses in particular recover. These include:

  • Greater flexibility for land to be used for temporary events, such as markets.
  • Planning freedoms to allow outdoor markets, marquees, pop-up car-boot sales or summer fairs without the need of a planning application.

Wimbledon, like many other town centres, has been hit hard by closures. We can expect more. The fund was applied for as shops and restaurants were going out of business to not only activate a dead space but support local business, and in particular local independent start-up businesses.

Why were residents not consulted on the project?

We presented to the virtual Wimbledon Community Forum meeting in December, which was recorded and is available on YouTube. We were unable to undertake a physical consultation due to Covid, so ensured that our website and newsletters were informing of the project. The project has been in the public domain since 7th September 2020 when the project was approved at Merton Council.

Were the police consulted?

Yes, the designing out crime officer and the counter terrorism team were actively consulted and the scheme was adjusted taking on their recommendations.

Planting and Greening

How did you develop the planting scheme?

We worked with a horticulturalist with experience in urban and community schemes to develop a planting scheme that will respond well to the ecology and local environment of the site. Plants were unable to be put in the ground in this location so planters around benches were designed to accommodate both. There are over 50 species of plants introduced in this area that previously had no planting at all, 50% are drought-tolerant, many have pollinating or pollutant USPs and we also introduced herbs for educational purposes. A full list of plants can be seen here. We introduced green roofs (30 square meters) on the kiosks all of which will contribute to a greener space.

Where are the wildflowers/plants?

They are starting to come through, many are seasonal and as with any new planting, it takes a while to bed in. We intentionally chose young plants so that the changes in growth and season could feed into the learnings about biodiversity. Some plants may take 2-3 years to reach levels that are on the artist’s impressions.

We would encourage people to visit the area to enjoy these at different times of year to see the range we have planted – the scheme will respond differently through the seasons.

What is happening around the trees?

The structures around the trees allow for additional seating and planting with the trees offering shade and cover. The original iron protective guards which have been there since the trees were planted have not been touched and are allowing free-flowing air for the tree trunk to breathe. The planter and seat structures do not go to the ground so all rainwater and runoff will still reach the roots of the tree, as before. The small sections of astroturf were recovered from a different project – this was going to waste and is being used as a permeable layer, preventing cigarette butts and rubbish collecting at the base of the tree which harm the tree. These trees along with the whole site will be closely monitored and any remediation work will be undertaken as necessary.

How about a green wall?

Hartfield Walk is creating an interactive space with seating and stalls; we would love a green wall in Wimbledon but to be done properly it would need a large amount of funding and a long term maintenance budget – a good project for the future we hope.

How will the plants be maintained?

Love Wimbledon will maintain and regularly water the plants in the area, just as we do with other planted areas in the town.

Sustainability

Can you tell us more about the materials used?

Please refer to our Sustainable Elements page.

A few things:

  • Generators have been removed and kiosks are powered by electricity
  • Timber is FSC
  • Oak has been repurposed from old canal lock gates
  • Pre-existing bin has been refurbished
  • Existing pavement slabs have been kept rather than buying new
  • Water-based paints were used for their low level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Stallholders

How were the stallholders chosen?

Three of the stallholders were already trading on Hartfield Walk. The stallholders apply for a street trading license and are allocated a pitch through the Merton Council process, just as before. We are delighted that the project has attracted new businesses into the area.

Bike Racks

Have the cycle parking places been relocated? And if so, where are they?

The cycle parking has been replaced by new family-friendly bike racks in Hartfield Walk, opposite the entrance to Morrisons. The design and materials of these makes them stronger and more secure allowing bikes to be secured at two separate points. They are also located right in front of the CCTV cameras, helping to prevent the incidence of bike thefts.

Additional Questions

Will the area attract more anti-social behaviour (drunk people congregating) or rough sleepers?

We work hard to assist homeless persons in Wimbledon into accommodation quickly. To do this we work with Merton Council Housing Team, the police and Safer Merton and as soon as we discover anyone without accommodation they are supported. The area has CCTV, is well lit and the kiosks have been designed with angled sides so sight lines are good.

How did you choose the colours?

Simply through nature. Often, we think of natural colours as being neutral but with plants, that’s not the case. We’ve taken the colours of crocuses (purples/lilacs) with their stamen (yellow/orange) and leaves (greens) and created the palette. Plants want to stand out for bees, Hartfield Walk stands out using nature’s colours.

How does it get cleaned?

The area has the bins emptied and gets swept daily. It will also be washed regularly. Stallholders will also keep an eye on the area and keep us up to date.

Is there a long-term maintenance plan?

Yes, there is. This includes snagging (the space is not yet complete as of 21.04.21) and removing brown stains leaking from the reclaimed wood (we are keeping an eye on this and expect it to stop weeping over the next few weeks) This is part of the agreement with the contractors.

We have daily ranger visits to the space assessing any issues as well as weekly contractor visits. Longer-term we have a maintenance budget in place for watering, plant replacement and maintenance, graffiti removal and a new lick of paint if needed. There will be yearly surveys of the space which include electrics and structures.

How can I find out more about projects like this?

Merton Council publishes all their decisions and minutes on their website. Our application was submitted in June 2020, along with many others, in response to a public call for local projects to be funded through the Neighbourhood Fund. Bids are assessed by officers and Councillors against the objectives of the Community Plan and other placemaking and planning priorities such as the Wimbledon masterplan. Details of the decision can be seen here.

Are there more space improvements like this planned in Wimbledon Town Centre?

The new YMCA design of its redevelopment includes a new public space with planting on the Broadway and the refurbishment of the Polka Theatre has a far improved relationship with the building and the street, which is due to complete this year.

What about longer term?

We hope to see the murals being changed every few years, and with the passion and enthusiasm of many residents and businesses we expect to get some promising ideas coming through. The great thing about this space is it is designed to adapt and change, as the climbers in the archway develop, and the trailing plants drop the space will also soften.

Hartfield Walk – A New Space to Sit, Eat and Relax in Wimbledon

An exciting new experience is coming to Wimbledon – Hartfield Walk.

Looking for a space to escape the hustle and bustle of the town, sit and read a book in the afternoon sunshine, grab a bite for lunch or meet and connect with friends and family? This exciting new space will be all of that and more.

Developed by Love Wimbledon, in collaboration with local creative business Firecracker Works, this project will transform and improve the walkway area between Blacks and Robert Dyas on The Broadway, leading to the Hartfield Road car park. Recognising the need for more seating in the town centre, Love Wimbledon applied for and secured funding from Merton Council, which has allowed the project to come to fruition, at a time where more residents are exploring their local area.

Hartfield Walk will feature an amalgamation of planting, seating, market kiosks, lighting, environmental games and art, all carefully designed to inspire local people of all ages to go greener, through references to combatting air pollution and climate change.

We sat down with two of the great minds who have helped design the project, which is coming soon to our town, to find out more.

 

Sally Warren (Strategic Marketing Adviser at Love Wimbledon)

Why did you choose this space to create an eco – messaged new space?

Currently Hartfield Walk (although it doesn’t have a name – yet!) acts more of a through-fare than a place to dwell, the space has  sparks of something exciting –  it is really central and there are a couple of good food stalls on there. We continually get feedback that Wimbledon needs spicing up a bit, and greening, and places to sit – the central location and the underutilisation of this space, provided the perfect platform to green-up and go further, new kiosks for the stalls (enviro – friendly) and enticing messaging and games to open the dialogue about sustainability.

How have you chosen who to work with on the project and what do they bring to the project?

We approached Firecracker Works as they were a local business, (in the town centre). They work with a range of clients, from fashion to FMCG, and have a real edge and creative nouse, but are also pragmatic and deliver. Our aim is to ‘buy local’ where possible, and we are really lucky to have a successful design and creative business like theirs, on our doorstep.

How do you see the space being used, now and in the future?

The project is a major collaboration, with artists, designers, Love Wimbledon, Sustainable Merton and of course, the current and future stallholders, all bringing their own refreshing elements. From creating green roofs which can flower in a shady place to designing bespoke cycle racks, the space will give a little bit of respite this spring as things start to return to normal. A big thank you to the adjoining landlords BMO, The All England Tennis Club and Merton Council who have all helped make it happen operationally.

How will it be used?

Well I for one, am looking forward to getting my first Thai meal where I can sit outside amongst plants and watch the world go by – oh and Firecracker Works have promised to meet us there (they love the coffee!). That’s what its about – a place to sit and enjoy being outside, in central Wimbledon.

 

 

Lee Cuffe (Head of Creative at Firecracker Works)

 

How did you come up with the idea of developing an eco-space with Love Wimbledon?

The creative ideas for Hartfield Walk were inspired by the High Line in New York City and adding greenery to an area where there is very little. A beautifully landscaped garden, sat on a disused railway line, in the heart of a bustling and built-up area of the city. It is an amazing place to escape to and we wanted to create a small pocket of this, for Wimbledon Town Centre. The idea to make this an eco-space came from reading an article on air pollution in the Metro. Reading this article sparked an idea of using the space to help make a difference. The two ideas seemed to work harmoniously together and so Hartfield Walk was born. Working collaboratively with Love Wimbledon we have really developed and focused these ideas into something that has a local feel, that engages the community and really tries to capture the spirit of Wimbledon.

What are you most excited about seeing being created in the space?

To see the space come to life and see the local community using and engaging with it, is what excites me. If only one person who uses the space learns something new, or it inspires them to change or action something, then we have created a space that can make a difference. It also means we have somewhere to go sit, have a coffee and enjoy our lunch!

How do you go from ideas to reality, what hurdles do you come across?

At Firecracker Works we take a methodical staged approach to design and build, working through each step to explore all outcomes, until we and our clients are happy to move on to the next. Hopefully avoiding or working through any hurdles we come across. First, we explore an idea until we have the right one, then we consider different aspects and constraints of this idea until it meets all of our and our clients’ criteria. We then use our specialist skills to visualise, create and resolve before we realise the build. This approach allows us to continually delight our clients. Our approach to this project has followed the same staged approach, with Love Wimbledon being part of every stage and decision-making process, advising, critiquing and putting forward design suggestions, all to ensure we truly capture the voice of Wimbledon.

How well do you know Wimbledon, why do you choose Wimbledon to have a business in?

Our home, ‘The Hangar’ is situated in Dundonald Yard, right in the heart of  Wimbledon. Having built a large set there in 2007, we jumped at the opportunity to become a permanent resident in 2013. The location of the Hangar and indeed Wimbledon was an attractive offer, due to its accessibility to the centre of London, as well as most major transport links. Being in Wimbledon is also a very comfortable location for our clients to come and visit. The fact that we are able to call a WW1 Aircraft Hangar, with so much history behind it, our home, lives into our ethos of being considerate of our environment. We cherish the opportunity to be a part of such an historic and iconic building here in the heart of Wimbledon and are happy to share its story with the local community.

What other things do you work on?

Our original line of work was for the private and corporate events industry, creating and building temporary structures. It is our reputation for the standard and quality of our work, which has led us onto a wide and varied scope or projects such as this one. It can be anything from: the recent reindeer installation with Love Wimbledon, to a sculpture or an art installation, a fashion shoot or a high end and bespoke piece of furniture, a pop-up engagement or the fit out of a permanent experiential restaurant. If it’s thrilling and it seems impossible, then it’s right up our street.

Have you done anything like this before?

This is the first opportunity we, as a business, and I, personally, have had to work on an exciting project like this. When we were approached by Love Wimbledon, we jumped at the chance to give something back. There are so many similarities between this and how we approach any project we do. We have a real dedication to sustainability and have recently become a member of Isla, a non-profit organisation focused on a sustainable future for events. With this in mind, we try as much as possible to have a minimal impact on the environment and we always consider the impact of the materials we source and use. It is really nice to have a project that is solely focused on this message.

 

Stay tuned for more details about this project, coming soon!

 

Love Wimbledon’s Response to the Local Plan

What is the Local Plan?

The Local Plan sets out a vision, strategy and a lot of planning detail for the London Borough of Merton with significant implications for Wimbledon Town Centre. The council are interested in business views as well as that of residents. 

  • It is created by the Borough Council (Merton) 
  • It is a development plan and is part of the governments planning system 
  • It sets out the strategic planning framework for 15 years in Merton 
  • It covers subjects such as new homes, healthy streets, transport, air quality, climate change, retail, office and industrial development 
  • Once adopted it supersedes all planning documents 

What do I need to do?  

The consultation closes on February 1st 2021. It is important that residents feed back by this date as the outputs from this document will be in place for fifteen years.

Read and respond to the Local Plan here.

Love Wimbledon’s Response

We are overall supportive of the essence of the plan and we stress that there must be a key focus on Wimbledon’s economy, jobs, development investment and growth to go hand in hand with improving the Wimbledon experience for all visitors whether local or international. The town centre must embrace an environmental strategy and play an integral role in helping to progress the careers of young people in the borough. These strands will support each other to maintain and improve Wimbledon’s vibrant economy and provide a bright future for the town and the borough.

Wimbledon is the economic heart of this borough and it needs to strive for growth to continue to provide that vitality, improving prospects for many. Working locally is likely to increase over the coming years, let us be in the position that people choose to have their business in Wimbledon, be proud of it and aid their success.

In the proposals we particularly support:  

1. Focus on quality design and placemaking  

The strategies to develop good quality and sustainable placemaking, active frontages of buildings, focus on public space, the pedestrian experience and exemplary design of buildings which will help create a better town centre.

2. Growth in business and culture 

It is important Wimbledon retains its status as a major centre and with a flexible strategy of innovation in workspaces, whether retail or office-based, this will allow the town centre to evolve to future changing times and challenges. Part of Wimbledon’s strength is its cultural offer which should remain part of the growth strategy. We support a focus on better quality and affordable workspace to support jobs, particularly for younger people and start-up businesses. Can developers be encouraged to provide a proportion of affordable workspace for a fixed period in new developments?

3. Focus on climate action 

This is an opportunity for all new developments to be some of the greenest of any London suburb; it is an opportunity to improve health and wellbeing whilst attracting more businesses. We would support the use of stronger language to deliver and provide, driving a higher expectation of action.  Suggest reference is made to the LETI standards for buildings.

4. Improving digital inclusion

To attract different businesses, Wimbledon Town Centre needs a comprehensive provision of super-fast fibre broadband to every commercial property.  We fully support objectives to deliver this.

5. Improving the station 

Even if Crossrail 2 doesn’t happen, the station is the gateway into Wimbledon and needs to reflect that, it needs improved access, better layout and a full refurbishment and rethink to its connectivity with the town centre. We need a station that is fitting for the international reputation of Wimbledon.

In addition: 

We would like to see the integration of a property owner’s charter into the Local Plan for Wimbledon Town Centre, which demands a relationship between the community and the owner contributing to the improved look and feel of empty properties including shops, managing construction hoardings, assisting with placemaking and attracting businesses into the town.

We see more of a focus needs to be placed on:

  • Arts, events and community facilities for the area / region, so appropriately sized, engaging and support the future as opposed to conference facilities
  • Additional weight improving the environmental credentials of the town centre: more vision, the greenest town centre in south west London or London, something we can all work to. Greening strategy needs to be proactive rather than responsive
  • Increased detail on how to tackle the issue of poor air quality, through traffic and noise
  • Improving cycling routes through the town centre and building linkages with Plough Lane
  • Provision of both retail and workplace space that is affordable and promotes new business
  • Developing a strategy for home workers and facilities for co-working environments
  • Giving creative solutions and strategies for improving the negative impact of delivery motorbikes on the town centre
  • Smaller high-quality boutique hotels – the hotel provision has increased significantly in recent years and the number of beds is now much higher

Wimbledon is in a strong position to become a superhub and attract a wide range of businesses. Our workplace portfolio needs flexibility, focus on health and wellbeing (eg terraces / roof gardens / opening windows), good quality public spaces; on buildings, next to buildings and in front of buildings. We would like the change to be from a car-focused town centre to a people-focused town centre, a place where people want to work, visit and enjoy, which will attract the new generation of emerging businesses. Wimbledon can retain its charm whilst developing growth and becoming a more attractive place for all types of office and high street businesses.

All future developments must be designed intelligently and sustainably to encompass the changes in the new emerging High Street and workplaces we are likely to see. Wimbledon requires commerce as part of its future economic and physical success, which will then positively contribute to the Wimbledon Town Centre becoming increasingly attractive for business, visitors, employees and residents further enhancing our 15-minute city attributes.