Waterstones and WHSmith Units, Wimbledon Bridge House

It was with much sadness that Love Wimbledon learned in 2015 that Wimbledon’s large WHSmith and Waterstones stores would be closing. There is a new store expected to open in the units in 2016: Metro Bank. This new store is a retail bank which will incorporate a regional training centre.

Love Wimbledon is working with Waterstones and WHSmith to identify suitable new locations for the businesses in the town centre. As a Business Improvement District we want, like many customers and residents, to continue to see popular stores in our town centre and these would include WHSmith and Waterstones.

In autumn 2015 when Metro Bank applied for changes to the building, Love Wimbledon was at the forefront of lobbying the council to consider the impact the change of use could have on Wimbledon Town Centre. Our concerns highlighted in the comments included:

‘Opening a bank on this site will further restrict customer choice in the town centre by closing two significant anchor retailers, reducing Wimbledon’s attractiveness and retail diversity, thereby reducing footfall to the area.’

We also saw one aspect of the changes as a potentially positive addition to the town centre:

‘Love Wimbledon welcomes the redevelopment proposal for the ‘pocket park’ and public realm area, although we would recommend taking the advice of the Met Police Designing Out Crime initiative before final plans are approved for this area. We also support the introduction of an additional CCTV camera on Wimbledon Bridge.’ (This is the area between Waitrose and WHSmith)

At the moment a date for Metro Bank opening has not been set. We will keep our businesses and customers informed of any changes we know about so that you will be the first to hear where and when Waterstones and WHSmith will be back.

In the meantime the town centre has a wide variety of shops and just as a reminder:

Stationery can be bought at Rymans and Fielders.

Cards at Paperchase, Clintons, Oliver Bonas and Elys

Books can be ordered on line and collected from Doddle or get your second hand books from Copperfields.

There is the smaller WHSmiths News on the station forecourt for all the above – all right in the heart of Wimbledon Town Centre.

Love Wimbledon’s response to the Crossrail 2 consultation

Love Wimbledon’s formal response to Crossrail 2 consultation is shared below:

7th January 2016

Dear Crossrail 2

Love Wimbledon is the Business Improvement District for the town centre and we represent 430 businesses and over 15,000 employees and growing. With over 60% of Merton’s employment in Wimbledon Town Centre, it is a crucial commercial and economic centre not only for the borough but for the wider area.

Love Wimbledon BID support Crossrail 2 coming to Wimbledon but it must not be delivered at the expense of the economic wellbeing of the town. Wimbledon already has excellent transport links which provide the means of us attracting skilled employees from much of London. There is pent up demand for commercial space in Wimbledon with many existing businesses looking to expand and many others outside the area currently looking at locating here if a suitable site becomes available.

If residential growth is achieved in London, urban town centres will have an important role in providing the employment, opportunities and things to do including shopping and going out that reflects a growing city.

Wimbledon town centre must retain its vibrancy and congenial environment, and stay well and truly open and accessible during construction. Disruption must be minimised so that it continues to be a place of choice to own or run a business and it continues to remain an attractive option for employees, residents and visitors.

Please consider the following in your proposal for Wimbledon Town Centre:
Revisit Tunnelling Proposals

Currently there is only one option proposed. At the next consultation we would request the inclusion of an alternative tunnelling option to be included for non-stopping Waterloo fast trains below Wimbledon station.
In the planning process

  • Clear communication and detailed consultation with all businesses and stakeholders of the town
  • An understanding that Wimbledon is a busy and functioning town centre which is clearly reflected within the proposals
  • Awareness of the potential for blight caused by uncertainty of plans
  • Early resolution of the current overcrowding issues at Wimbledon Station
  • Provide detailed phasing plans of all work allowing for relocation of businesses within the town
  • Full impact assessments undertaken and shared (including economic, transport and environmental)

During construction

  • Minimise the impact of the construction on Wimbledon shops, businesses and cultural spots so Wimbledon remains working and is well and truly open for business
  • Be sensitive to the town centre’s functionality when planning for various stages of construction
  • Provide minimal disruption to our current transport services taking into account the impact of road, pedestrian and cycle provision as well as public transport
  • Work closely with Love Wimbledon and Wimbledon businesses to listen and respond to the business’ voice, recognising Wimbledon town centre as an invaluable Central Business Zone

Vision for the future

  • Focus on commercial space redevelopment – not housing
  • Make plans for an enhanced food / retail offer and high quality office space
  • Require all construction materials and finishes are of the highest quality and design both for public realm and new buildings
  • Make over station and line development part of your plans
  • Give our town centre a public square and improved urban spaces with strong ‘green’ features
  • Protect listed buildings and buildings of architectural significance / heritage
  • Provide sympathetic and sustainable designs with a maximum build height

Wimbledon Town Centre is the heart of SW19 with an internationally recognised name and postcode. We would urge you to ensure we retain this before and during construction and in 2030 have an internationally recognised town centre with an experience to match.

We look forward to working with you in developing the best proposals for Wimbledon.

Yours faithfully

Helen Clark Bell
BID Manager