Visions For Wimbledon

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This thread follows up on the Visions for Wimbledon meetings held November 2008, April and November 2009. It reviews progress on the Visions plan, updates on Wimbledon Station forecourt, and, in conjunction with LB Merton forward planning, looks at the built form and development opportunities for Wimbledon. For information on the meeting of 30th April 2009 see here: http://www.wimbledoncivicforum.org.uk/messageboard/urban-design-task-for...

Notes of the meeting held at Merton Civic Centre on 11 August 2009

Present
John Hill LB Merton head of planning and public protection
Ashley Hillar – LB Merton project manager for WImbledon Station Project
Sue Wright LB Merton – Development control N Area team leader
Chris Chowns LB Merton – Policy
Paul McGarry LB Merton – Regeneration
Paul Garrett LB Merton – Urban design
Marcus Beale Wimbledon Civic Forum (WCF)
Mark Leclerq Wimbledon Society (Wim Soc)

John Hill invited WCF and WimSoc to attend the Wimbledon town Centre officers meeting, to discuss Visions for Wimbledon, and the Wimbledon Heritage Trail proposals. They wish to take the Vision for Wimbledon forward, as a council led initiative, with WCF assisting with local participation and involvement. LB Merton have been working on strategic plan for the town centre, and are also progressing the Station Forecourt scheme.

MB took the meeting through the Civic Forum ‘Visions for Wimbledon’ document: the forums and public workshops over the years leading up to it, the characterisation fo the town as it is, the issues identified, and the design ideas for specific public realm improvements.

Paul Garrett explained that he had been looking strategically at development sites, those already identified by the council but also looking for others; and opportunities for expansion. For example: there is a small retail core around Centre Court and the station. Do we need more shops, if so where and what kind. The theatre and evening economy is also centred quite closely around the Theatre, should this be extended, or, given concerns about antisocial behaviour, should it be contained? He would welcome creative involvement of the Forum looking at the built form, negative aspects of it and opportunities for improvement. It was agreed that this would be a possible subject for the workshop planned for 2pm Saturday 14 November 2009. [Action: LBM will confirm.]

Ashley Hillar described the current status of he Station Forecourt proposals. A bid has been submitted to tFL. It will be a partnership development , part of the National Station improvement scheme. South West Trains operate the station, and they will set the design pallette for the forecourt – they will maintain it. How this interfaces with the streetscape will need to be considered. Key issues include: – aligning the pedestrian crossing with the station entrance: need to do structural investigations in respect of the traffic signs which are over the bridge itself – the taxi route; they have investigated the retaining wall separating this from the forecourt and it can be removed. – servicing of businesses – traffic signals – removal of guarding rails in town centre.
They are talking with Urban initiatives. Safety engineering is a big factor and whilst all would wish to see all the barriers removed, need to consider very carefully he safety implications.

The P1 station development. LBM have been in discussion with Network Rail, looking at the practicalities of rafting over of the station – cost of the raft is in excess of 100 million and the scheme is considered too large to be attempted in one phase. Maybe a smaller scheme could proceed. These discussions will inform the Local Development Framework.

John Hill suggested that WCF and WimSoc join the Wimbledon officers meeting on a quarterly basis, so that we can monitor progress and feed into the council plans on a regular basis. Next meeting will be November 2009. [Action will confirm schedule of meetings]

Heritage Trail for Wimbledon. Paul McGarry suggested signage could be part of the Legible London scheme. Caroline Keeley conservation officer is already in discussion with Wim Soc about a printed brochure. Ashley Hillar is implementing legible London. [Action WimSoc and LBM keep in touch as proposals develop].

Attached is the Visions for Wimbledon Discussion Document presented in April 2009.

The next Visions for Wimbledon meeting is to be held on Saturday 14th November 2009 at St Mark’s Church, St Mark’s Place SW19 7ND, at 2pm. See what’s on for more.

Don’t forget our major workshop event on SATURDAY 14th November 2009 2pm. This is an event held in partnership with LB Merton Planning and Wimbledon Society and we will have good representation from Merton including Head of Planning and members of the Forward Planning team. It is the third major public workshop on THE FUTURE OF WIMBLEDON and will give an update on current status and proposed improvements to the station forecourt.

Saturday 14th Nov. 2009, 2.00 – 3.30 pm at St Mark’s Church, St Mark’s Place SW19 7ND
Chaired by Stephen Hammond MP
With speakers including John Hill Head of Planning LB Merton

We have held 2 major public workshops facilitated by the Urban Design Task Force of the Civic Forum and Chaired by Stephen Hammond MP for Wimbledon (and Shadow Minister for Transport), that looked at the future of the town centre and the village, and launched the creative plan Visions for Wimbledon aiming to shape it for the future in a way that is planned and well thought through. See the plan online at: http://www.wimbledoncivicforum.org.uk/sites/default/files/Visions_1s_0.pdf

Summary conclusions to date : – Wimbledon Town Centre (WTC) can and should be improved – WTC needs a clear identity building on the culture, heritage and distinctive
features of Wimbledon past, present and, most importantly, future – There should be more individual shops rather than chain stores – There should be more trees, greenery and better public spaces and art – There should be better buildings, more consistency and cohesive design,
better materials, quality not quantity, remove street debris, improve litter – Community facilities are important and should be improved – WTC should be more like Richmond and less like Kingston or Croydon – Streets should be narrower, pavements wider with more pedestrian space – Less traffic, no one way system, improve the station and surroundings – The UDP should be enforced, LDF should include a WTC Creative Plan

- Recognition that the Council needs to get behind this to make it work

The meeting on Saturday 14th November 2009 at 2 pm is to report back progress to date and reconfirm what the public feels should be the next priorities in the process of improving the civic environment of Wimbledon defined by and for the residents. We will also examine the proposed improvements to Wimbledon Station Forecourt, proposed by LB Merton as a project to improve the town centre by 2011.

Come and have your say.
Marcus Beale, Chairman, Wimbledon Civic Forum
Mark Leclercq, Chairman of the Planning Committee, Wimbledon Society

WimbledonCivicForum
in association with
TheWimbledonSociety
and
London Borough of Merton

VISIONS FOR WIMBLEDON WORKSHOP
St Mark’s Church SW19
2pm – 3.30 pm 14 NOVEMBER 2009
PROPOSED RUNNING ORDER
Introduction S Hammond 10 mins.
Visions – update on council’s visions 10 mins
Station Forecourt presentation 10 mins.
Questions on S Forecourt 10 mins.
Agree workshop topics 5 mins.
Workshops 25 mins.
Facilitated by WCF and planning personnel
Plenary 15 mins.
Closing comments and next steps S Hammond 5 mins.

Thanks to all for a useful meeting today 14 November 2009. We will be putting up meeting notes on this thread, and will take any and all comments on the meeting to our quarterly meeting with the head of planning and our 6-monthly meetings with the MP and key elected members. The documents we saw today – the slideshow on the council’s Vision for Wimbledon presented by Paul Garrett – the station forecourt proposals presented by Nick Greenwood
are attached here.

WCF ‘Visions’ document is at http://www.wimbledoncivicforum.org.uk/sites/default/files/Visions_1s_0.pdf

On behalf of Wimbledon Choral society and other similar organisations, could a key issue to be discussed be the development of a new Concert Hall. This needs to be large enough to seat the large audiences which attend concerts and similar events of societies of the size of Wimbledon Choral.

A replacement hall was promised when the old Civic Hall was demolished. A small replacement was discussed but that is not appropriate. There is no venue of sufficient size in the borough and concerts have to be held as far away as Croydon and Guildford.

A multi-purpose development would be appropriate as long as the seating is substantial.

J.G.Williams

Notes from the ‘strategic plan’ working group at the Wimbledon Civic Forum meeting 14 November 2009:

1. Concern raised that the council is not assessing well enough why people choose to live in Wimbledon and why they invest in it. People want it to be seen as a primarily residential area and feel expanded commercial development will damage the quality of life here.

2. Boundaries of the town centre as defined in the plan:
a. Concerns raised about expansion of commercial areas into what are now residential areas
b. Council said it aims to respect the needs of residents. Boundaries of the town centre for the purposes of the plan are defined in the plan but basically consist of the station, one way system and portions of The Broadway.
c. Council pointed out that the town centre initiative is in part driven by Olympics funding

3. Concern raised regarding the cultural development of the town centre:
a. People do not want more bars and clubs – they feel there are too many now
b. Council says this issue is best dealt with via licensing laws

4. What is the strategic vision? It was felt that this is not being defined.
a. Council says this is still being worked out – all options are on the table
b. Current aim is to improve the town centre and avoid further decline.

5. Lack of public toilets was raised as a concern
a. Council has included public toilets in the Hartfield Road development
b. Westminster approach of public toilets should be considered.

6. Suggestion made that new building be made to conform to some sort of local theme or standard to improve the overall aesthetic aspects of the town centre

7. Suggestion made to provide more public access to the ‘fridge’ building.

8. Issue of community centres raised
a. Council said that it want to improve the St George’s road and Mansfield road centres

9. Will schools be protected under the plan? Concern raised about past selling of school properties and the current shortage of school places.
a. Schools are not part of the plan – the council has other projects underway looking at schools and the shortage of places.

10. Need for expanded pedestrian areas raised –pedestrianising the road in front of the station was proposed.

11. Issue of houses being torn down to build flats raised
a. Concerns that this is pushing families out of Wimbledon

Point 1: The Station

NO STEPS PLEASE!

To arrive and leave: There should be access to fetch and take people, and to depart after driving past the entrance. Departure should be, as it was 15 years ago, where the pedestrian crossing has a light, just to the right of the post box seen from the station, allowing cars to turn left or cross over and turn right. The car entrance should remain where it is at present. (And as it was before.)

Places to park: Ample room for some cars to wait for their passengers if they are slightly late. (As it was before)

Taxis waiting and coming to the front of the station from the side street, as a passenger needs them. (As before).

Passengers to be able to wait at the front, under adequate protection from the station roof overhang. (As before).

Point 2: The streets

PLEASE do not make the streets narrower. We have far more problems in Wimbledon as motorists than as pedestrians.

Point 3: Traffic calming

Control speed with cameras and electronic speed indicators, rather than cluttering the streets with humps and chicanes.

Humps cause pollution as cars brake and accelerate, and they impede emergency vehicles – like the (relatively new) dangerous traffic island at the junction of Woodside Rd. and Wimbledon Hill.

Point 4: Traffic reduction

Schools should be where the children live, i.e. in this case in Mitcham and Morden. The daily coming and going of children to and from Wimbledon increases traffic and pedestrian congestion and is grossly unfair on the children.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Mikael and Marina Grut

Station access and surrounding traffic

We accept that both pedestrian and road traffic are congested around the station. Superficial changes (paving the road, steps in the station forecourt) are a waste of money and will cause unnecessary disruption. Some will even be counter-productive. Paved roads quickly become dangerous for cyclists, espcically given heavy traffic movemenets. Steps are dangerous for everyone when it is crowded, and make it harder for anyone using wheels Removing barriers at the edge of pavements will lead to more accidents.

Instead, our energy and resource should focus on reducing the congestion in this area. Providing access to the station at the North end of the Platforms is the obvious solution. This could be done by building a footbridge from Alexandra road, with access through or near the station car park . This would have steps and ramps suitable for wheelchairs and bicycles, and ticketing facilities. Ideally, it might be possible to link this with an exit on the Queen’s road side too.

Clearly if the council hasn’t already started work on such a proposal, it won’t be done in time for the 2011 Tennis fortnight, and enough money won’t have been allocated. However, perhaps this could be done in two stages. To start with, the Olympics money could go towards developing the space near the car park for buses (and taxis?) to the tennis, a pick-up and drop off point for cars, and a large area for cycle parking, building over the existing car park, at street level. This should be designed with a view to the second stage, the bridge to all platforms and station entrance facilities.

I have suggested this to the council at several times over the years (including at a previous Civic Forum meeting) and had no response. It is not something that should await a possible major commercial development over the station: it is needed now. Not long ago, Sutrans (the cycling organisation) was awarded a large sum of money to improve cycle access to stations. This would be an ideal opoportunity and I hope the council can seize this as soon as possible.

Notes from 14 November 2009 Civic Forum/WTC Event – Station and Transport Group

Big question: Is the town centre a thru route or not? Can we stop thru traffic, or at least find a way to reduce traffic, to make the town centre a better place to visit?

Operation of gyratory is key:
Move pedestrian crossing (cost?)
Reduce traffic to two lanes; this would cause increased congestion
Can we make another entrance to the station? Eg: Pedestrian Bridge over other platforms; ramps for cycles, buggies, wheelchairs
Put Taxis/buses in a separate lane

How will this budget be used? Is it about flowerpots and stairs vs. bigger, more strategic improvements. (£1m available for cycle and disabled access) Is this money exclusively for the forecourt, or can it be used elsewhere?

Bids have gone tin but no success for bigger, area-based schemes. We already have a lot going on. We are putting more money into little improvements, but not reducing traffic from the town centre.

Shouldn’t we try to get an access point at the OTHER END of the station?
Air rights schemes
Much bigger schemes hopefully in the future
UDP site is key to redevelopment of the site, but would be in the next 10 years
Draw us an illustration of number 1 WTC form the UDP

Station car park: From Sus-trans, and make a footbridge. Could ultimately link up with Queens Road, but not necessarily at first. This would decrease congestion immediately

Station forecourt – for Olympics. This is a small improvement, but a step in the right direction.

Key issue is to remove clutter and improve the traffic lights to help move traffic more efficiently. Do the practical improvements, but not more STAIRS. Need an access with an incline, for buggies, wheelchairs, suitcases.

There is a much bigger priority for PEDESTRIANS to be addressed. This area is a meeting point, and at present it is chaotic. Cars and taxis vs. pedestrians.

Reverse one lane of taxi path. Drop off ONLY for disabled. All others can drop off, eg Alexandra Road and walk. There is no need to drive right up to the front of the station, inconveniencing everybody else.
Taxis object; eg: right turn to WHR on Alexandra is a problem for them
Drop off on Bridge is terrible and has a chaotic effect on thru traffic
Could the taxi rank be moved to Alexandra Road?

What are PEOPLE’s prioritites? (At close, we were each asked our main concerns.)

Plan for EVENTS: Olympics (a month) and Tennis (2 weeks/year). E.g. for tennis, move all collection to Alexandra Road, and not right at the station

Reverse one lane of the taxi rank; get private cars out of the forecourt

Make Hartfield road two way again, and take some traffic off the Broadway

Need to separate through traffic (vehicles) and pedestrians, or to find a way to encourage mutual respect. Chaotic at present.

Get the area opened up like Kensington High St and Exhibition Road area

Clean up the lifts at the station

Cameras not speed humps

Can we do an ‘X’ pedestrian crossing at Alexandra and Wimbleon Hill Road, like has just been done with Oxford Circus. Would speed crossing and reduce accidents.

First Capital Connect to St Pancras – need signage and timetables

Road by Queens Rd: use to take traffic overflow

Fix area by Argos – on e of the ugliest places on earth

Traffic flow: HSBC by buses – move it? Widen path on that side and not the other.

Lane for one-way, where cars are changing lanes is very dangerous. At Argos, cuts from 3 to 2 lanes, and all fight for 2 lanes.

No traffic out onto Wimbledon Bridge

No Steps

Cycling routes to Station

More generous Pedestrian areas, with places to sit and wait, rest

No steps in forecourt area, where we drop off

Keep taxis near to station, as some people can’t walk very far.

We should all email our views to www.wimbledoncivicforum.org or Google Wimbledon Civic Forum and post your messages on the board. Every Quarter these issues are gathered and presented to the Council in a formal meeting.

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