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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.