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.
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.