Tag Archive for: Romulus

Wimbledon Is Working

Time & Leisure Magazine

Firstly, thank you for the great response to my first blog. This month, while it remains challenging to find much to feel optimistic about globally, I have been encouraged in Wimbledon by our situation locally. Here are five recent encouraging experiences that have led me to feel that things are changing for the better here in the town centre: 

  1. The Return of the Business Community

    I recently attended a test event ahead of the official launch of Bombay Delight, a stunning new Indian Restaurant located opposite the Polka Theatre on The Broadway. The Love Wimbledon team has been delighted to work with Ajay, the Manager of the restaurant, from when it was still a building site several months ago and have made introductions for him into the wider Wimbledon community. Seeing so many people from Wimbledon’s business community reconnecting over a delicious Indian meal was a great reminder that bringing people together is an essential part of what BIDs can do – and a great new Indian restaurant is just what we need here. 

  2. Award-winning Culture and Hospitality

    Now in their tenth year, the Time & Leisure Food & Culture Awards are a really important recognition of excellence across South London. I was hugely impressed that 17 of our venues received awards and commendations from over 10,000 votes cast, including Diba (Local Restaurant of the Year), The Alexandra (Best Pub), New Wimbledon Theatre (Best Entertainment Venue) and Leon, who won the Wimbledon Town Centre People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Love Wimbledon. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited the winners to give them their certificates, and it’s so rewarding to see their pride and delight in winning them. We are blessed with a really diverse and impressive food and culture offering in Wimbledon.

  3. A Safe and Thriving Night-Time Economy

    Last Friday, I went on patrol from 10pm – 2am with the Merton Street Pastors. The Street Pastors receive funding from Love Wimbledon and are a team of Christian volunteers who assist with our work in keeping the night-time economy safe, by offering reassurance and safety to those who need it, and making sure the town is cleared of glass bottles and other hazards. Our Footfall data suggests Wimbledon may have had its busiest Friday for at least 2 years last week, with all the pubs we visited reporting successful evenings. While spirits were definitely high, while we were on patrol we encountered no significant issues or trouble, which was reassuring to see. The Street Pastors are part of a sophisticated local intelligence network Love Wimbledon co-ordinates for the night-time economy with the Met Police and our hospitality businesses, which includes a Town Link Radio network and the Disc online intelligence system, which identifies and holds photographs of known individuals who could potentially cause trouble to ensure we remain on the front foot in dealing with such matters.

  4. The Piazza – Hearts and Markets

    For Valentine’s Day we tested our first Piazza activation of the year, with our large wooden heart installation. This proved to be a big hit, with partners, families and pet owners stopping to make the most of the opportunity to share their love. We were particularly impressed to discover that Storm Eunice couldn’t take it down either, it truly is an enduring love! Thanks to an overwhelmingly positive response to our heart installation, we have worked with the supplier to ensure a sustainable future for this feature and we have kept all the materials (plus opted out of polyester planting), which will be reused again on The Piazza next year.

    Following on from this, on Saturday we launched our first Market weekend of the year on The Piazza. I was there for the opening at 11am, and it was great to see so many loyal stallholders returning as well as new faces. Popular community choir, Rock Choir, attracted a crowd, creating a buzzy atmosphere for visitors. Markets are an important community asset. They create a public gathering place, provide economic support for small businesses and local craftspeople and crucially boost business for retailers in proximity. The Institute of Place Management reported in its Market Matters report that markets increase town centre footfall by up to 25%, and 55-71% of those attending also spend money in other shops while visiting. We have exciting plans for our monthly markets for the remainder of 2022, including a sustainability themed market, two Friday Food markets and integrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I hope to see you there. 

  5. Sustainable Placemaking

    Last weekend I attended the Centre Court Shopping Centre exhibition, where Romulus, its new owners, outlined some of their ambitious plans around sustainability and supporting a circular economy. With beehives, a rooftop urban farm of 3 greenhouses, mushroom farming from coffee granules and rainwater harvesting, the new focus on sustainability at Centre Court is just part of the cutting-edge thinking being applied to deliver what will be a bold and transformative reimagination. We share this sustainable vision for Wimbledon Town Centre, which is why it’s one of our strategic priorities for the next five years.

Once again, I’ve enjoyed meeting more of our businesses this month, together with local councillors, our Member of Parliament and other stakeholders. Please do get in touch if we haven’t spoken yet – I am keen to meet as many levy payers as possible before we officially start our third BID term on 1 April 2022! 

Craig Hurring, CEO of Love Wimbledon BID.

Future of Centre Court Shopping Centre

A neighbourhood hub for the future – Romulus plans the transformation of Wimbledon’s Centre Court Shopping Centre.

The transformation of the Centre Court Shopping Centre in Wimbledon is set to begin as owners and managers Romulus start the process of placing Centre Court back at the heart of Wimbledon’s local residents and businesses.

Following their purchase of the centre in April 2021, Romulus have committed to transforming the inward-looking, 1990s retail environment into a lively, open, space to meet friends or colleagues, shop, relax, eat & drink, work or work out.

These changes will be carried out while retaining the existing structure, ensuring that almost all existing businesses stay open and critically that the environmental damage from demolition is entirely avoided.

The process has now begun, with Romulus proposing a series of initial interventions that focus on four key areas:

  • Placemaking on Queens Road to create welcoming, green and bright places designed around pedestrians. This will include a new community entranceway.
  • A new central courtyard with a retractable roof that opens up on sunny days.
  • Improvements to the existing entrances that include a new art installation, which will brighten up the main Broadway entrance.
  • A mix of new dynamic uses to cater to the demands of local residents including new shops, gym, workspaces, restaurants, bars and more.

CGI’s of proposed Umbrella Sky and enhanced food/drink experiences with more outdoor spaces

Combined, the measures outlined will start the evolution of the Shopping Centre from a centre that is half-empty to a new dynamic hub that caters to the needs of the people of Wimbledon. In order to deliver these changes, a series of planning applications will be submitted to Merton Council over the course of this month.

Following on from these, in November, Romulus will be speaking to the local community about possible further measures that would help to continue the process of diversifying and modernising Centre Court. Have your say and detail what you think the future should look like for Centre Court.

Alex Woolf, Strategy Director at Romulus, added:

“We are excited to be proposing a number of improvements to Centre Court that will begin to enhance the experience for visitors and businesses alike. This is the start of a journey that we want to take with the local community over the coming months. We know the deep affection everyone in Wimbledon has for their town centre and realise the important role Centre Court can play in its evolution.

By opening the centre up, improving pedestrian access from all sides and attracting new uses we believe our proposals can start to make the changes people want to see. We believe that the success of Centre Court comes from placing local residents and businesses at its heart and over the coming months we will consult with Wimbledon’s residents about other measures we could take as we seek to provide the leisure and retail experience that is currently missing in Wimbledon.”

Works will begin January 2022 and are estimated for completion in Autumn 2022.

Event Recap: More Independent Shops
and Better Places and Spaces

Summarising key findings from their latest business survey, Love Wimbledon BID held an online meeting attended by over 60 businesses, titled The Next Five Years. Over 80% of businesses, in our recent consultation think Love Wimbledon is promoting the Town Centre well, with 80% also agreeing they represent the interests of their business. Even in a year of pandemic more than ¾ of businesses agreed that Wimbledon has engaging events and is a great town to visit with even higher numbers agreeing they feel supported with a good range of services and marketing.

But not an organisation to sit still, during the overview more questions were asked of the attending audience. So what were the results? 85% thought families would be the biggest future market for Wimbledon Town Centre. When asked about new high street businesses, top of the polls was a desire to see more independents being part of the town centre, in fact improved retail was seen as the most important thing to attract visitors in the future. Big brands however weren’t seen as the real attraction receiving fewer than half the votes. There was a clear demand for healthier places and spaces, with major support to reduce traffic and improve the look and feel of Wimbledon town centre.

Alex Woolf, a Director of Romulus, the new owners of Centre Court Shopping, introduced himself discussing their Huddle formula of workspaces currently in Hammersmith acknowledging the importance of the strong residential market that is on Wimbledon’s doorstep. Mixed-use and rethinking buildings seems to be their approach, whilst entwining conservation and sustainability into their designs and future. A warm, Wimbledon welcome was extended to Alex and the rest of the Romulus team.

So what next? Love Wimbledon will be surveying visitors and community groups over the coming weeks to see what their priorities are, and as Love Wimbledon comes up to our BID renewal the aim will be to ensure we lobby for, or deliver these needs over the next five years, to help with a strong recovery from the pandemic and to make Wimbledon a more attractive place for everyone.

To watch a recording of the meeting click here.
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