Posts

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.

Flowers Can Talk

 

Flowers Really Do Talk!

We all love a flower, especially in Wimbledon Town Centre, and increasing the amount of planting is a great way to bring in life, colour, nature and biodiversity. But what if there was something different to a flower bed? What if the plants could grow from a lamppost? And what if the plants could tell you when they needed watering?

Business Improvement District Love Wimbledon thought we would give it a go, after local urban greening company Scotscape contacted us about their new LivingPillar™.

A new vertical LivingPillar™ has been created in Wimbledon Town Centre, acting as a trial,  the first of its kind in South London. Packed with petunias, 84 of them and very much part of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships colour theme, the new Living Pillar™ has an irrigation system which runs on solar power using a high efficiency solar panel (at the top of the pillar) to recharge the systems battery source. Better still, it features a monitor which enables water management remotely via an App, whereby the plants are reporting when they are about to run out of water as the tank becomes empty. Scotscape monitors this and when the plants need some water and the reservoir needs topping up, it gets done! The technology ensures zero water is wasted, as any excess irrigation water is recycled.

Helen Clark Bell CEO of Love Wimbledon commented:

‘We initially set out to improve the neglected flower bed outside Evans Cycle so worked with Merton Council to get the wooden bench refurbished and the retaining wall repointed. Scotscape approached us and offered to overhaul the bed, providing new plants for the flowerbeds. We had heard of Scotscape’s innovative lamppost solution; this was the perfect place to trial a Living Pillar™ in Merton. Future planting will include air scrubbing plants helping to improve the air quality whilst also making the town greener.  Where space is limited, horizontal planting provides a very different opportunity and where tree planting is restricted, planted posts and pillars offer a  space-saving solution as well as a visual treat.’

   
 During installation of the pillar

Angus Cunningham, CEO of Scotscape added:

‘Scotscape and Love Wimbledon have aligned thoughts on improving places and spaces through planting, By introducing sustainable planting and biodiversity in tricky locations, the Living Pillar™ will do a little bit more to help with air quality and longer term the app should enable us to measure air quality in the area as well as keep our plants watered when they ask!’

   
The Evans flowerbed before and after refurbishment

Businesses are already talking about the improvements:

‘Many thanks to Love Wimbledon BID for transformation of a neglected flowerbed, into something sustainable, and great to look at.’

– Manager, Wibbas Down Inn

And that’s not all – bird, bee and insect boxes will be installed in the autumn, with the planting undergrowth acting as the perfect refuge for urban wildlife and insects. The Petunias will be replaced with plant species carefully selected for their seasonal pollen and nectar production, as well as their ability to remove polluting particulate matter from air.

The LivingPillar™ can  be found in front of Evans Cycles on Gladstone Road in Wimbledon Town Centre.

Love Wimbledon Delivers A Safe Christmas

 

Whilst celebrations were different in 2020, Christmas spirit was very much alive in Wimbledon Town Centre. From our sparkling Christmas Tree, to a family-oriented Reindeer Trail and a month of magical Christmas markets, Love Wimbledon provided the community with a safe way to celebrate the Christmas and New Year period during various levels of restrictions.

Christmas Tree

A 25ft tree shone brightly, lighting up the entrance to Wimbledon Station in mid-November. Kindly sponsored by Morrison’s Solicitors, the tree marked the beginning of the festive period and provided cheer and positivity to the town.

Wimbledon’s First Reindeer Trail and Augmented Reality Experience 

This year we had to think creatively and deliver an event that was enjoyable and filled with Christmas spirit for residents and visitors of Wimbledon. Together with Centre Court Shopping Centre Wimbledon’s first reindeer trail was brought to life, designed and installed by Wimbledon BID business Firecracker Works and augmented reality, executed by The Locale 

This gave the community a chance to engage in a socially-distanced outdoor festive activity at a time where Santa’s Grottos and Christmas events usually grace town centres and high streets – including our very own Winter Wonderland, which was cancelled due to the circumstances.

Consisting of nine bright and vibrant reindeer (including Rudolph) installed in various locations throughout the town centre, the trail would see Christmas characters come to life via a scannable QR code on the base of the reindeer and also gave users access to a virtual Santa’s Grotto (outside Lakeland in Centre Court Shopping). The event was well-received by the community and businesses and residents took part. 

Christmas Markets

Our Christmas Markets on The Piazza continued in 2020, driving footfall by providing locals with an outdoor shopping destination and the opportunity to feel the magic of Christmas. During periods of tighter restrictions, the market was adapted to serve food only and stalls were festively dressed and complemented by a lovely winter floral display, generously sponsored by WSM.

We’d like to thank businesses for their continued involvement in the community, from collaborating on or sponsoring installations and events, to donating to those in need and supporting one another in these difficult times. We wish everyone a brighter 2021 and a resilient town centre.