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.
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.