Love Wimbledon Delivers A Safe Christmas

 

Whilst celebrations were different in 2020, Christmas spirit was very much alive in Wimbledon Town Centre. From our sparkling Christmas Tree, to a family-oriented Reindeer Trail and a month of magical Christmas markets, Love Wimbledon provided the community with a safe way to celebrate the Christmas and New Year period during various levels of restrictions.

Christmas Tree

A 25ft tree shone brightly, lighting up the entrance to Wimbledon Station in mid-November. Kindly sponsored by Morrison’s Solicitors, the tree marked the beginning of the festive period and provided cheer and positivity to the town.

Wimbledon’s First Reindeer Trail and Augmented Reality Experience 

This year we had to think creatively and deliver an event that was enjoyable and filled with Christmas spirit for residents and visitors of Wimbledon. Together with Centre Court Shopping Centre Wimbledon’s first reindeer trail was brought to life, designed and installed by Wimbledon BID business Firecracker Works and augmented reality, executed by The Locale 

This gave the community a chance to engage in a socially-distanced outdoor festive activity at a time where Santa’s Grottos and Christmas events usually grace town centres and high streets – including our very own Winter Wonderland, which was cancelled due to the circumstances.

Consisting of nine bright and vibrant reindeer (including Rudolph) installed in various locations throughout the town centre, the trail would see Christmas characters come to life via a scannable QR code on the base of the reindeer and also gave users access to a virtual Santa’s Grotto (outside Lakeland in Centre Court Shopping). The event was well-received by the community and businesses and residents took part. 

Christmas Markets

Our Christmas Markets on The Piazza continued in 2020, driving footfall by providing locals with an outdoor shopping destination and the opportunity to feel the magic of Christmas. During periods of tighter restrictions, the market was adapted to serve food only and stalls were festively dressed and complemented by a lovely winter floral display, generously sponsored by WSM.

We’d like to thank businesses for their continued involvement in the community, from collaborating on or sponsoring installations and events, to donating to those in need and supporting one another in these difficult times. We wish everyone a brighter 2021 and a resilient town centre.

Bounce Back Better Campaign

 

Love Wimbledon is proud to support a campaign launched by Croydon BID “Bounce Back Better”, an extension of the Raise The Bar campaign, in order to call on the government to provide more support to retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in 2021/2022.

The campaign manifesto covers 4 main asks:

  1. One-off grant for retail, hospitality & leisure businesses
    Local Authorities lack the administrative and payments infrastructure required to facilitate a monthly financial support model proposed by government for eligible businesses in Tier 2 and Tier 3 – many businesses are receiving funds too late, or worse not at all. We ask Government to provide a one-off ‘Bounce Back’ grant of up to £15,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in Tier 2 and Tier 3 across England and Wales with a rateable value of up to and including £150,000. This would give 137,000 businesses vital funds delivered in a manner Local Authorities are equipped to distribute at a total maximum cost of £2.05bn
  2. Pause national insurance contributions for furloughed employees
    For the furlough scheme investment to date of £47m to be fully effective, business support must reflect short and long term challenges. While employees receive 80% of their salary through the extension of the furlough scheme, businesses are still paying out for National Insurance, placing greater strain on survival. We ask Government to remove the burden of National Insurance from employers whose staff are on furlough, saving the average business £2,000 per month until the end of March 2021.
  3. Extension of 100% business rates holiday for 2021/22
    The ‘payment holiday’ for hospitality, leisure and leisure businesses with a rateable value less than £51,000 earlier this year was an extraordinary and critical measure saving each business up to £25,000, a total tax cut worth over £1bn. We ask Government to extend the 100% business rates holiday into 2021/2022 for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Every pound saved is a pound to help businesses stay trading and retain staff.
  4. Extension of VAT reduction scheme
    The cut in VAT from 20% to 5% is a major boost for the hospitality sector enabling businesses to pass on a £4.1 billion saving onto consumers. With a vaccine becoming a reality in the coming months, our Bed and Breakfasts, hotels and restaurants could be a vital catalyst to local economic recovery. Research by CGA for UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping found support on VAT and business rates are top of hospitality’s essential business support needs. We ask government to extend the VAT reduction to 5% for Hospitality from 1 April 2021 up to and including 31st March 2022.

To support retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – the beating heart of our economy, sign the petition here.

For more details visit the campaign website.

New Lockdown Grant Announced

Due to Lockdown 3, the Chancellor has announced today that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000.

The one-off top-up grants will be applied to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

A further £594 million is also being made available for Local Authorities to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities.

For a full breakdown of financial support that is available to Wimbledon businesses through this pandemic, click here.

Further details of how this grant will be issued will be announced soon.

Click here for further details of this lockdown grant.

New Year, New Developments

Wimbledon is entering the new year with a surge in positive developments and placemaking across the town. The centre is an urban / suburban hub of good transport links, beautiful buildings, HQs, independents and cultural choice. It is recognised as a growth relocation area for businesses who want somewhere safe, convenient and affordable, the following projects will further enhance this.

Hartfield Walk Goes Green

Love Wimbledon has secured CIL funding of £120,000 from Merton Council to create an exciting new space – Hartfield Walk, to improve the area between Blacks and Robert Dyas on The Broadway. Working in collaboration with local creative business Firecracker Works, the project will see the reclaiming of an underused space being repurposed for the local community, providing a sense of escapism through an amalgamation of planting, seating, market kiosks, new lighting, environmental games and art. As well as presenting a place to sit and read a book in the afternoon sunshine, grab a bite for lunch or meet and connect with friends and family, Hartfield Walk aims to be a space which educates, informs and engages the local community. Through references to combatting air pollution and climate change, each component has been carefully considered to inspire local people of all ages to make a difference, e.g. through art, play, materials used etc.

New Homes and Workspace for the YMCA

YMCA St Paul’s Group has received planning consent from Merton Council to deliver a brand-new YMCA hostel in Wimbledon, consisting of 121 en-suite rooms to promote independent living, alongside an adjoining development of 135 new homes, plus an improved café, gym and fitness studio for wider community use. Read more about this here.

Polka Childrens Theatre Refurbishment Nears Completion 

The UK’s first children’s theatre, Polka has been awarded a Capital Kickstart grant as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, worth £253,000. This will enable the local theatre to continue with their redevelopment, despite the financial challenge caused by the Covid-19 crisis. With just over £100,000 left to raise to complete this £8.3m capital redevelopment, Polka is due to re-open in Spring with a new café and open-access play spaces, improved physical access, expanded capacity for early years work, and a new rehearsal and community space.

New Forecourt for Theatre 

A new paved front entrance to New Wimbledon Theatre, is due to complete by spring in time for the theatre reopening. The space reclaims part of Russell Road, enhancing the theatre experience by providing more room for theatre goers to meet before or spill out onto after. It creates a better sense of place for this landmark building. The works by Merton Council will also incorporate a new crossing, which had to be relocated. The project was developed through the Future Wimbledon consultation, which Love Wimbledon BID has been supporting.

We look forward to 2021 being a strong year for our town and businesses.

Check back to our news pages and LinkedIn for further developments and news.  

YMCA Redevelopment Wins Planning Application

CGI view of planned development, looking towards west of The Broadway

 

The YMCA on Wimbledon Broadway has received planning consent for redevelopment. YMCA St Paul’s Group alongside development partners Thornsett, architects DLA Architects, Ltd. and Newington Communications, are delighted to have received a resolution to grant permission from Merton Council to deliver a brand-new YMCA hostel in Wimbledon, alongside an adjoining development of 135 new homes.

In summary the final proposals will deliver:

  • A new YMCA hostel comprising 121 en-suite rooms with shared kitchens on every corridor. These new facilities are designed to promote independent living, to ensure residents feel safe and secure, and to provide a significantly higher quality of accommodation;
  • An improved YMCA café, gym and fitness studios for wider community use;
  • 135 new homes (1 x studio, 108 x 1-beds, 25 2-beds and 1 x 3-bed), which will ultimately finance the re-development of the YMCA and support its survival in Wimbledon;
  • Two flexible commercial units at ground floor, alongside the provision of public open space, which will serve to activate the street frontage along The Broadway;
  • A sustainably designed building, which aims to achieve a 100% carbon reduction, through the delivery of a fabric first approach, a heat pump solution in both elements of the development, and a range of other sustainability measures.
  • In order to encourage sustainable travel, residents of the development will be unable to apply for on-street parking permits. YMCA Wimbledon will also include environmentally friendly transport initiatives such as a free subscription to a car hire scheme for residential tenants, electric charging points for the four disabled car parking spaces, and plenty of on site, secure cycle parking.

The architects and the YMCA worked closely with local residents and businesses to enable a well designed building using high quality materials, and a local artist has also been commissioned to create tactile facades on the front of the building on brick work and screening.

Work is expected to start on site in 2021.

Richard James, CEO of YMCA St Paul’s Group said:

We are thrilled to have received this positive endorsement from Merton Council to redevelop YMCA Wimbledon and deliver a brand-new centre that we and our residents can be proud of. Our proposals will provide much-improved accommodation for young and vulnerable people in Wimbledon, helping them back into independent living and to lead more fulfilling lives, whilst also offering improved services and new, modern facilities for the wider community. YMCA has had a presence in Wimbledon for 150 years – about as long as the All England Club! – and planning permission for this fantastic new building will help us to continue to carry out our work here for many more years to come.

Gerard Cunningham, Executive Chairman of Thornsett, added:

Thornsett has been working closely with YMCA St Paul’s Group for the past two years to design a scheme of exemplary quality, which meets residents’ needs. We are delighted that Merton Council has given us the green light to deliver our plans, which will offer 135 high-quality homes for the borough, alongside the brand-new YMCA centre. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the YMCA, the Council and local residents to deliver the scheme and the many benefits it will offer.

For more information click here.

Business Evictions Ban Extended

 

The government has announced that business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021.

The majority of commercial landlords have shown flexibility, understanding and commitment to protect businesses during an exceptionally challenging time.

This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction, will give landlords and tenants three months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent. The government is clear that where businesses can pay any or all of their rent, they should do so.

The move will also support businesses worst affected by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants, helping them to rebuild over the winter period.

A review of the outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation, has also been announced, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions. This review will consider how to enable better collaboration between commercial landlords and tenants, and also how to improve the leasing process to ensure our high streets and town centres thrive as we recover from the pandemic and beyond.

Secretary of State for Housing Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

I am extending protections from the threat of eviction for businesses unable to pay their rent until March 2021, taking the length of these measures to one year. This will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and plan for the future.

This support is for the businesses struggling the most during the pandemic, such as those in hospitality – however, those that are able to pay their rent should do so.

We are witnessing a profound adjustment in commercial property. It is critical that landlords and tenants across the country use the coming months to reach agreements on rent wherever possible and enable viable businesses to continue to operate.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

We have stood by businesses across the country throughout this pandemic, and as we head into the New Year we will make sure they continue to have the support they need to keep their finances stable, protect jobs and build back better.

There is still some uncertainty ahead, but knowing that they won’t be evicted by their landlord will give thousands of business owners some breathing space and the additional confidence they need to plan for their futures.

Further guidance to support tenants and landlords to continue to work together 54to agree rent payment options, where businesses are struggling, will be published shortly.

The government will also extend insolvency measures on restricting statutory demands and winding up petitions until the end of March.

The restriction on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover unpaid rent will also automatically extend to the end of March, in line with the moratorium’s expiry date. This allows businesses sufficient breathing space to pay rent owed.

For more details visit the government webpage here.

The London Business Hub is offering a Property Advice Service and Masterclasses to help businesses understand and navigate rent negotiations. Click here for more information.

Local Plan Consultation Launches

Merton Council have launched the FINAL consultation for their Local Plan. This plan:

  • Is a development plan and is part of the governments planning system
  • Sets out the strategic planning framework for 15 years in Merton
  • Covers subjects such as healthy streets, transport, air quality, climate change, retail, office, new homes, and industrial development

Once adopted it supersedes all planning documents.

It is a very important document that can help shape a better Wimbledon Town Centre.

Love Wimbledon will:

  • Provide links to the document which affects Wimbledon
  • Hold a Zoom forum on 20th January at 4pm for businesses, landlords, developers, agents and other key stakeholders
  • Gather feedback from BID businesses to inform a response

*This plan is very important as the outputs from the document will be in place for 15 years.

Deadline is 1st February. 

 

Cross Rail 2 Response Received

Love Wimbledon has received a statement from Crossrail2 in response to our questioning about the future development of CR2.


The full statement is below, stating that all consultancy work has now ceased and indicating that CR2 will not be progressing any development plans for the foreseeable future. However the safeguarding proposals need to be updated as they and as such we are pressurising the CR2 team to refresh these plans.

In his letter of 31 October on TfL’s emergency funding settlement, Secretary of State Grant Shapps set out that one condition of the package was that in relation to Crossrail 2, TfL “prioritises safeguarding activity and brings an orderly end to consultancy work as soon as possible. DfT will support such safeguarding activity for this project as required.”

As such, work on progressing Crossrail 2 towards a Hybrid Bill is being paused. The project team have already spent several months ‘making good’ the scheme (finishing key pieces of work and digitising all records) ahead of it being paused, and this work is now almost complete. We will work to help the SoS refresh the safeguarding directions in order to safeguard the scheme’s route from future developments. We await DfT clarification on the timetable for this work. We will also continue to work with stakeholders with developments affected by our safeguarding so that we can protect the route until such time as we can gain powers and start construction.

 Given TfL’s current finances and the requirement for us to pay for half of the scheme, we are not in a position to confirm when our Hybrid Bill work can restart.  The Mayor has confirmed that Crossrail 2 will still be needed to support London’s growth. We have clearly demonstrated the case for the scheme but need to be in a position to afford to help pay for it.

For more information click here.

Kickstart Scheme and Peer Networks

Kickstart Scheme

Employers can now receive full funding to support job placements for young people, within your business. The new Government Kickstart scheme aims to support new jobs for young people on Universal Credit, who are at risk of long term unemployment. Placements will be 6 months long and will be fully-funded for 25 hours a week.

If you have less than 30 job placements available then contact Merton Chamber (info@mertonchamber.co.uk or apply online), who act as a Gateway organisation to group employer requests together and submit your application.

Peer Networks

A national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. Delivered locally by Merton Chamber of Commerce in association with Business Clan, the programme creates diverse cohort groups of individuals to collaboratively work through common business issues.

Eligibility: A London based business who employs five or more, and has a turnover of over £100,000 and has been trading for more than one year.

Interested in being part of a dynamic peer network? Contact diana@mertonchamber.co.uk for more information.

Peer Networks is a national programme delivered locally by Merton Chamber and Business Clan on behalf of the London Business Hub.

Merton Council Recovery Grant Scheme

Merton Council Consult with Businesses on Business Plan

Businesses that have been required to close or adapt due to the national restrictions between 5 November – 2 December 2020, may be eligible for the new local economic support announced by the government. Eligible businesses may be entitled to a grant for each 28 day period under national restrictions.

This support is still available if your business has adapted to offer takeaways or ‘click and collect’ products, as your ‘substantive’ business is considered closed.

Grants will be based on the rateable value of the property as at 5 November 2020. The grant amounts for each 28 day period under national restrictions are as follows.

If your business is eligible and has a property with a rateable value of:

  • £15,000 or less, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £1,334
  • over £15,000 but less than £51,000, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £2,000
  • £51,000 and above, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £3,000

Grant income is taxable. The Local Restrictions Support Grant will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business.

Your business may be eligible for a grant from Merton Council if it:

  • occupies property in Merton on which it pays business rates, and
  • was open and trading on 4 November 2020, and
  • has been required to close* for at least 4 weeks because of the national lockdown

Before applying you will need to have the following documents available to upload to support your application:

  • proof of identity of sole trader (e.g. passport, driving licence) or limited company (document confirming company name, registered address, company number)
  • bank statement confirming name and address of account holder (this must be dated within the last 3 months)
  • evidence of trading on 4 November 2020 (e.g. recent invoices for sales or services)
  • evidence to confirm property was occupied (e.g. utility bills)

Find out more and apply here.

*Additional Restrictions Grant
An new discretionary grant scheme will be launched by Merton Council in mid December. This will have a short application window, and we don’t have details yet, so please do ensure you stay in touch through our website page, our Linkedin or through the Merton Council newsletter to be able to apply if you are eligible. We will also send a dedicated newsletter about this too when we have the full details.