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)
- 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
- 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
- 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.