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Love Wimbledon’s Response to the Local Plan


Wimbledon Local Plan

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.

Read details about Future Wimbledon here and the Local Plan here.

Wimbledon the Superhub-hub?

Wimbledon Local Plan

Wimbledon will be ‘an exemplar of good quality design and sustainable placemaking’ asserted Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and the Climate Emergency at the Love Wimbledon Local Plan virtual seminar. Held 20th January 2021, the event highlighted how despite the pandemic, Wimbledon is set to be an important superhub for office workers and an urban/suburban accessible place to work.  

The seminar provided the opportunity for Merton Council to present Wimbledon’s strong place in the future to property owners, businesses and agents. With over half of the borough’s jobs in the town centre, Wimbledon is the economic heart of the area, with a good underlying economy, excellent transport, a lively Business Improvement District and has proven popular with HQs and SMEs. The business types are mixed in this safe neighbourhood so what does the Future Wimbledon look like?

The strengthening between local residents and the town centre is likely to continue and according to Tara Butler, Deputy Head of Future Merton, there will be an emphasis on ‘high-quality design and low carbon’ in buildings, which is likely to be welcomed by this South West London community.

The importance of the interaction between buildings and streets was discussed and how a flexible, pragmatic approach to businesses and buildings needed, to avoid the ‘broken tooth syndrome’ – where empty shops aren’t filled or workspaces are left empty, echoing the past of London in the early years of the 1980’s. The overall aim, Paul McGarry stated, was to ‘strengthen the position of Wimbledon as a major south London Town Centre’. The area has already seen the renaissance of local independent shops and collectives, and continues to be attractive for brands.

The green agenda will flourish, and the town will be avoiding a car-based Covid-19 recovery, making Wimbledon the perfect 15-minute town within our large city. All visitors should be able to enjoy a positive experience (minus pollution) and all buildings should have energy efficiency at their forefront.

Potential Development Sites in Wimbledon

So what does this all mean?

There are a range of sites up for potential redevelopment. These should attract developers who think differently, who can imagine a newer, people-centric centre, which makes experience king. Ideas are already beginning to formulate – new carless walkways, more planting, exciting spaces and great businesses. Wimbledon needs to conserve its past and develop its future – so if you are a developer or property owner and are interested, this is the time to think of Wimbledon and help make it the internationally recognised experience that it is becoming.  


Response to the Future Merton Wimbledon Masterplan

Love Wimbledon are overall supportive of the vision of the Masterplan and it is clear that Merton Council have listened to business and resident feedback during the development process of this over the past few years.

Some of the benefits that we are supporting from the Masterplan include:

  • Providing a flexible choice of retail space to entice varied businesses in the future
  • Developing workspace to suit different needs
  • Incorporating new civic open space to develop an attractive central core
  • Greening the town centre / creating a sustainable future
  • Decking over the tracks to create a less linear centre (with or without Crossrail 2)
  • Improving leisure and cultural space (inside and out!) which includes community space that can be accessed during the day for exhibitions / events etc
  • Creating clear zones which are bite sized and clear
  • Designing a world-renowned transport interchange to be proud of
  • Increase in pedestrian ways around town

The masterplan needs to do all it can to improve the look and feel of the town centre whilst enabling growth for current and future businesses in Wimbledon. Several businesses have moved away from Wimbledon as the office portfolio needs more flexibility, be of higher quality whilst also catering for small start-ups.  There are retailers who are not able to currently locate here due to the inflexibility of retail sq footage. We would welcome a long-term strategy of providing affordable retail and workspace in the future.

The clear definition of residential areas / cultural areas / office areas is a good strategy as this provides a breathing space and reduces the impact on residents of night time activity in the town including deliveries and servicing.

There are several areas which need more consideration and clarity before we can be fully committed to supporting the masterplan.

More detail on development

  • A development appraisal to outline constraints and opportunities for the potential development sites considering location, legal and planning aspects as well as their physical characteristics
  • Inclusion of a new concert hall / visual and performing arts centre with community use


  • A detailed traffic strategy including developing ideas to re-route from Hartfield Rd to St Georges Rd (via a bridge) and providing a clear strategy to reduce traffic rather than ‘move’ traffic
  • Detailed pedestrian and cycling strategy to link up all sides of the town centre
  • The potential impact in twenty years with the increase in use of electric cars
  • A shorter-term car use and local parking plan (based on current data)

Design vision 

  • The ‘sketch’ of the area opposite the station is poor quality design and does not respond to the vision
  • Around the station give more thought to scale and appropriate language to surrounding buildings and spaces (including what Wimbledon looks like from afar)
  • Activate streetscape with clear short and long-term proposals which are engaging and well designed
  • A varied workplace strategy to look at jobs for growth and provide a mixture from smaller working spaces / hubs to HQs
  • More detail on architectural interpretation / context of masterplan that can be used by architects and Design Review Panel
  • Further develop the town centre current and future unique proposition and positioning

Operational challenges 

  • Strategy to reduce air pollution taking into account the majority of traffic is from outside the area and is passing through the town centre
  • Consider implementing a clean air zone
  • More detail on light and wind impact around St Georges Rd / Piazza area
  • Clear vision on potential phasing of masterplan which considers minimising physical and monetary impact on businesses and town centre users

Strategic challenges

  • If CR2 doesn’t happen, how will this plan change?
  • Improving ‘Play’ in Wimbledon for families, friends and visitors
  • Long term plans for Centre Court’s future
  • Phasing, what can be done now and in the future, to activate various sites creatively and temporarily?
  • Making Wimbledon progressive and upgrading the centre without over dominating development
  • Environmental impact of all development from using considerate contractors to promoting Wimbledon’s DNA to architects

The key is to have flexibility of business spaces, an interesting and different mix of retail, leisure and workspaces to suit changing demands and needs. To see an improved design vision would help Wimbledon on a commercial level to provide improved quality, and thoughtful design of buildings and spaces, in turn will make it a more attractive place to set up business, grow business and enjoy having a business here.

The plan keeps many of the heritage buildings that are fundamental in the town’s genes, whilst opening up change and innovation in areas which need improvement. Designers of the future need to have the vision and expertise to ‘think Wimbledon’. The aim should be to improve experience for all users and develop buildings which everyone is proud of.