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Wimbledon’s Rainbow Crossing Gets More Inclusive

In 2019, Love Wimbledon worked with Merton Council to install a Rainbow Crossing in Wimbledon Broadway, to celebrate the town’s inclusivity and welcome its first LGBTQ+ bar CMYK. After a short break, the crossing has returned with a slightly different look and a more inclusive design, featuring the ‘Progress Pride’ flag to include representation for black and trans pride.

Delivered by Merton Council, the updated crossing has been relocated to a new location 50m west of The Broadway, after improvement works that took place outside New Wimbledon Theatre to create a new public space. This is the thought to be the first rainbow crossing in London, with a more inclusive design, demonstrating Wimbledon’s progress towards being a town where all feel welcome.

Helen Clark Bell, Chief Executive of the Love Wimbledon BID, commented:

“We’re very glad to see the rainbow crossing return to Wimbledon, with a new and more inclusive design to represent the broader LGBTQ+ community. As well as creating a warm welcome to all, the crossing contributes to the growing arts and cultural scene in Wimbledon and is an absolute joy to see.”

Councillor Marsie Skeete, Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, added:

“We’re so happy to welcome back the Wimbledon crossing – it is a wonderful symbol of Merton’s inclusivity. We’re incredibly proud of our LGBTQ+ community and have always stood up for equality – the return of this crossing demonstrates our commitment to and pride in the diversity of the borough. It is just one of the many ways that the council stands in solidarity with all those who face discrimination in Merton and beyond.”

Love Wimbledon are continually considering how to enhance the vibrancy of our town and have helped provide multiple other free art installations for the public to explore, including innovative wall murals with eco-messaging. To find out more about our work to develop a ‘Secret Wimbledon’ full of hidden gems, click here.

 

Merton Council delivered the crossing with FM Conway Contractors.

Love Wimbledon’s Response to the Final Local Plan 

See below Love Wimbledon’s response to the final Local Plan consultation, which aims is to ensure that Wimbledon continues to be a thriving destination for businesses, local residents and visitors.

Although supportive of the essence of the plan on Wimbledon’s economy, jobs, development, investment and growth, we ask that more emphasis is placed on improving the Wimbledon experience in a ‘living with’ Covid-19 world for all visitors whether local or international.

We would like to see included in Wimbledon Town Centre:

  • A stronger focus on air quality and traffic improvements within the town centre, particularly for through traffic and delivery bikes
  • A clearer focus on climate action in building development, refurbishing rather than rebuilding where possible, supporting commercial retrofits and using the LETI standards with target of zero emissions for future offices/buildings
  • Support for improvement of digital inclusion
  • A strategy for the station improvements without Crossrail going ahead
  • An emphasis on supporting shops, especially independents
  • Less of a focus on conference facilities and hotels (unless independent)
  • A vision to include an arts centre in the town centre
  • A town centre which conserves its historical architectural interest whilst creating high quality developments
  • Less of an emphasis on redevelopment but organic improvements
  • Improve its experiential reputation as an internationally recognised location with spaces and places which support that
  • Clearer vision on how to manage the delivery industry in a green and sustainable way
  • Landlord charter to engage with all landlords for the future of the town – share responsibility and curation for the future of the town
  • Improve green spaces and places – include reference to the climate emergency plans
  • Make sure commercial properties and the town centre provide cycling facilities and accessible pathways for people cycling to and through the town centre, making Wimbledon a cycling-friendly town
  • A clear policy for the town centre, including its conservation areas, on shop signage and active frontages including hoardings and unoccupied shops

To find out more about the local plan for Wimbledon, click here.

Love Wimbledon’s response: Plan Wimbledon’s Neighbourhood Forum


Note: respond by 23rd May 2021 to have your say.

 

A community group called PlanWimbledon has applied to Merton Council to designate a proposed neighbourhood area, predominantly around Wimbledon and to become the designated Neighbourhood Forum for an area extending to around a third of Merton Borough, involving around 40,000 residents.

 

If the Council accepts this application to designate PlanWimbledon as the Neighbourhood Forum for this neighbourhood area, PlanWimbledon will be authorised to prepare a neighbourhood development plan “Neighbourhood Plan”. No other organisation may then be designated for any part of that neighbourhood area until this designation expires after five years or it is withdrawn.

 

Neighbourhood planning allows residents, employees and businesses to come together through a Neighbourhood Forum and produce a Neighbourhood Plan. Once adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan can be used to guide decisions on planning applications within the neighbourhood area.

 

Love Wimbledon is not objecting to the Forum being designated as a lead body for neighbourhood planning purposes for the wider area but is very concerned about the inclusion of Wimbledon Town Centre as the CBD within the designation application. There is currently a lack of detail in terms of the aims and aspirations of PlanWimbledon with regard to the Town Centre neither is there an understanding of the approach or relationship with the existing SPD adopted in November 2020 that has been developed through extensive consultation. There is also a lack of business involvement and say in terms of the governance structure of the proposed Forum.

 

Whilst there is no theoretical limit to the size of a neighbourhood planning area, with over 100 Forums now established in the GLA area, we note that most are in the 10-20,000 population bracket. There are exceptions such as Mill Hill (27,000), Finsbury Park and Stroud Green (30,000), Isle of Dogs (28,000), but these do not include centres of the same planning status as Wimbledon.

 

The proposed physical boundary and resulting population is of a large ‘town’ rather than a ‘neighbourhood’ size & larger than any other neighbourhood area of which we are aware. Whilst populations of 40,000 are more common outside of metropolitan areas – for example in market towns, these are mostly led by Town Councils with a long track record of engagement and delivery.

 

Love Wimbledon BID welcomes and supports the view of Plan Wimbledon that the Town Centre is vital for accessing local services, shops, workplaces, hospitality, transport and hubs.  Over the last 9 years Love Wimbledon BID has invested significant effort to widely consult and influence the development of the masterplan and subsequent SPD.  Whilst we don’t consider the masterplan to be perfect, we understand the SPD guidance, together with the Local Plan policy framework for the centre, namely policies CS.6, CS.7, CS14 and CS18-20 are all strategic policies and therefore provide a strong statutory basis for planning purposes, with which any neighbourhood plan would have to be in conformity and yet this document is not referred to within the PlanWimbledon proposal.

 

Further, Wimbledon Town Centre is designated as a Major Centre in the London Plan and indeed is Merton’s only Major Centre. It is also designated as a GLA Opportunity Area with Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon in the emerging London Plan. Its role therefore is significant beyond Wimbledon. Having invested so much time and effort relating to the centre’s strategic as well as our local role, Love Wimbledon wants to build on what is already there in terms of the SPD Guidance and Local Plan Policies.

 

We are determined therefore, working with Merton Council, property owners, businesses, service providers and residents, to maximise our influence over the future spatial development of the Town Centre (i.e. Love Wimbledon BID’s agreed boundary) and how the existing 2020 masterplan develops out. Hence our desire to pursue a business-led Neighbourhood Forum and Plan which truly reflects business as well as residential issues.

 

A business-led Neighbourhood Forum and Plan, proposed by Love Wimbledon BID would need support from both residents and businesses in a referendum. The current proposition would not require this, and businesses could only have a say via their employees if they lived locally and, significantly, would not incorporate the views of the real estate property owners. Many existing business-led Neighbourhood Forums have a balance of business and resident representation on their steering groups (e.g. Hyde Park and Paddington, Central Ealing, Mayfair, Spitalfields). We also feel, as an existing community organisation, and through our extensive business network, that Love Wimbledon is very well placed to facilitate a dynamic dialogue between residents, businesses, and real estate interests. We are currently in the process of surveying key sectors we work with to explore this further. In terms of the Plan Wimbledon constitution, whilst businesses can join they do not appear to have a vote on the plan as businesses as a sector, and there appears to be no recognition of property owners or asset managers, which we find surprising given that the proposition to include a major metropolitan centre, but once again most likely relates to the unwieldy size of the proposed area.

 

The consultation launch date of 12th April is unfortunate with so many businesses just emerging from lockdown and as mentioned above, we are currently polling a cross section of businesses and property owners to get their views.  Early indications are that 90% of businesses from a range of commercial interests do not support this resident led neighbourhood plan including the Town Centre and verbal feedback from a recent Strategic Leaders Forum also supported this view.

 

We are receiving comments such as: –

“There is adequate planning control exercised by LB Merton. Further layers of control will add to an already lengthy process and will make Wimbledon a less attractive place in which to invest.”

“There is already in place a planning framework, it may not be perfect, but it is fair and provides the local neighbourhood an opportunity to put forward their concerns.”

 

Whilst we therefore do not support the inclusion of the Town Centre, we have offered to work with Plan Wimbledon using the significant technical support that is available from the Locality Aecom National Support Programme to try and identify areas of agreement between us and PlanWimbledon which could then be written up into a ‘Statement of Common Aims’.

 

Love Wimbledon is an established community organisation with a defined border and extensive relationships built up over the last nine years. We have invested significant time and resources working through the complex issues with CBD stakeholders relating to the spatial future of the CBD and believe that we are best placed to explore the opportunity of organising a business-led Neighbourhood Forum for Wimbledon Town Centre.

 

We urge all of our businesses to have their say by responding to Plan Wimbledon’s proposals here.

Rapid Tests Available For Wimbledon Businesses and Employees

Testing for front-line workers

Testing for ALL front-line workers, volunteers and carers who have NO symptoms, is now available via Merton Council.

The council is encouraging these groups to get a lateral flow test (a rapid test) twice a week. They have plenty of capacity, so if you must leave home to go to work and regularly mix with other people, then this testing is for you.

Book a rapid (lateral flow) test for coronavirus here.

This is open to all front-line workers, including but not limited to: health and social care workers, carers, emergency services staff, volunteers, essential shop workers, those who work in the court system, taxi drivers, lorry drivers, food production workers, maintenance workers, hospital cleaners, frontline public sector workers, delivery drivers, tradesman and anyone whose work means they have to mix with others.

As many as 1 in 3 people could be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms, so regular testing means you can continue your job safely and avoid passing the virus onto those you work with.

You must book a test in advance as the council cannot accommodate walk-ins.

Please remember that if you do have symptoms, even mild, you should self-isolate immediately and book free test by calling 119 or via nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Testing for businesses with 50+ employees

Business with over 50 employees can now order Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests for their employees, who are unable to work from home. These asymptomatic tests are not to be used if you or your employees have symptoms – anyone with symptoms should order an individual test and stay at home. Tests will be delivered directly to the business’ premises.

Businesses must register before 31st March.

If your business has fewer than 50 employees, the employee should use the post code checker to find the nearest community testing centre.
Find out more here.

Local Plan Consultation Launches

Merton Council have launched the FINAL consultation for their Local Plan. This plan:

  • Is a development plan and is part of the governments planning system
  • Sets out the strategic planning framework for 15 years in Merton
  • Covers subjects such as healthy streets, transport, air quality, climate change, retail, office, new homes, and industrial development

Once adopted it supersedes all planning documents.

It is a very important document that can help shape a better Wimbledon Town Centre.

Love Wimbledon will:

  • Provide links to the document which affects Wimbledon
  • Hold a Zoom forum on 20th January at 4pm for businesses, landlords, developers, agents and other key stakeholders
  • Gather feedback from BID businesses to inform a response

*This plan is very important as the outputs from the document will be in place for 15 years.

Deadline is 1st February. 

 

Merton Council Recovery Grant Scheme

Merton Council Consult with Businesses on Business Plan

Businesses that have been required to close or adapt due to the national restrictions between 5 November – 2 December 2020, may be eligible for the new local economic support announced by the government. Eligible businesses may be entitled to a grant for each 28 day period under national restrictions.

This support is still available if your business has adapted to offer takeaways or ‘click and collect’ products, as your ‘substantive’ business is considered closed.

Grants will be based on the rateable value of the property as at 5 November 2020. The grant amounts for each 28 day period under national restrictions are as follows.

If your business is eligible and has a property with a rateable value of:

  • £15,000 or less, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £1,334
  • over £15,000 but less than £51,000, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £2,000
  • £51,000 and above, you will receive a one-off cash grant of £3,000

Grant income is taxable. The Local Restrictions Support Grant will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business.

Your business may be eligible for a grant from Merton Council if it:

  • occupies property in Merton on which it pays business rates, and
  • was open and trading on 4 November 2020, and
  • has been required to close* for at least 4 weeks because of the national lockdown

Before applying you will need to have the following documents available to upload to support your application:

  • proof of identity of sole trader (e.g. passport, driving licence) or limited company (document confirming company name, registered address, company number)
  • bank statement confirming name and address of account holder (this must be dated within the last 3 months)
  • evidence of trading on 4 November 2020 (e.g. recent invoices for sales or services)
  • evidence to confirm property was occupied (e.g. utility bills)

Find out more and apply here.

*Additional Restrictions Grant
An new discretionary grant scheme will be launched by Merton Council in mid December. This will have a short application window, and we don’t have details yet, so please do ensure you stay in touch through our website page, our Linkedin or through the Merton Council newsletter to be able to apply if you are eligible. We will also send a dedicated newsletter about this too when we have the full details.

Merton Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme Opens for Applications

 

Small and micro businesses with ongoing fixed property costs may be eligible for a grant from the Discretionary Grants Scheme if they were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

This fund is significantly smaller than the previous coronavirus related grants and will only be available to support a small number of businesses in Merton.

Merton Council will administer the scheme in two phases and the deadline for phase 1 applications is 5pm on 24 June 2020.

 

For more information about eligibility and to apply, CLICK HERE 

We are hosting a webinar, 16th June 10-11am,  to assist businesses with understanding the qualifying criteria, in partnership with Merton Chamber of Commerce and Merton Council. Register for the webinar here.

Reach Out and Connect with MPs Paul Scully and Stephen Hammond Webinar Recording

 

On Tuesday 5th May Love Wimbledon and Merton Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar with MP Paul Scully, the Under Secretary of State for BEIS and Minister for London, and our local MP, Stephen Hammond, about the Government’s support for business and to hear their views of how we might emerge out of lockdown. It was well attended and a prime opportunity for businesses to ask questions about the various areas of government support, including the Business Bounce Back Loans, further details on the top-up grant and when businesses might receive guidance about re-opening.

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

We are here to represent your concerns and lobbying on behalf of businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre to ensure a strong restart. Visit our dedicated Covid-19 page for collated resources to keep up-to-date with government and financial support and public health guidance.

Be sure to check back for future webinars and get in touch if you’d like to address a specific topic or need additional advice and support for your business.  info@lovewimbledon.org

 

 

 

Reach Out and Connect Webinar Recording

 

On Thursday 12th April Love Wimbledon and Merton Chamber of Commerce hosted a joint webinar with Merton Council to discuss what government support is available to businesses at this time, including grants and business rates relief.

It was a great opportunity for businesses to ask questions and gain clarification about options available to them.  We’d like to thank everyone who attended and Merton Council for highlighting what is being done to help businesses recover from the Covid-19 situation.

Love Wimbledon is:

  • Consolidating information from central government
  • Lobbying for a London waiting to be applied to the £51k rateable value threshold given the higher listings in London
  • Communicating with businesses and providing resources such as the checklist if you are closing your business, worked on with Merton Chamber of Commerce
  • Co-ordinating support for businesses that remain open, facilitating support between businesses and the local community through donations and volunteers
  • Maintaining street presence to reduce anti-social activity and keeping an eye on empty premises
  • Working with community groups to accommodate the homeless
  • Preparing for the recovery and will be a key driver in re-opening the Town Centre

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

Download a copy of the presentation here.

Be sure to check back for future webinars and get in touch if you’d like to address a specific topic or need additional advice and support for your business.  info@lovewimbledon.org

Visit our dedicated Covid-19 page for collated resources to keep businesses up-to-date with government and financial support and public health guidance.