The controversial Love Wimbledon scheme was installed more than a year ago
Hartfield Walk today from the Hartfield Road car park
Merton Council is asking for comments on Love Wimbledon’s Hartfield Walk scheme - more than a year after the four sreet food kiosks were installed ahead of planning permission.
The environmental walkway scheme - called Hartfield Walk - was created by Love Wimbledon to improve the cut-through between Blacks and Robert Dyas on The Broadway, leading to the Hartfield Road car park.
Wimbledon-based creative business Firecracker Works transformed the area after Love Wimbledon secured £120,000 in funding after bidding for cash from Merton Council's Community Infastructure Levy (CIL).
While most of the project is deemed 'public realm works' which did not require planning permission, the four market kiosks did need planning permission and Love Wimbledon initially applied for planning approval in February 2021
However despite the plans being met with some criticism, the kiosks were installed last April before planning permission was granted.
Love Wimbledon said it took the decision to install the kiosks ahead of planning permission to help non-essential retail businesses when they re-opened as part of lockdown easing last year.
Now Merton Council officers are recommending planning committee councillor give the scheme the green light at their next meeting. It will finally be discussed by them on August 19.
Before then, there is another opportunity to have your say on the scheme. An initial consultation in March 2021 attracted 15 letters of objection and four of support. Now more comments are being invited until a new deadline of July 28.
Critics of the scheme, which Love Wimbledon has said offers extra seating, plants and kiosks which run without noisy generators, included the Friends of Wimbledon Town Centre, Merton Cycling Campaign, the Wimbledon Society, Merton Tree Warden group and the Met Police's 'Designing Out Crime' officer. They made their comments in 2021.
The Friends of Wimbledon Town Centre said while they welcomed the "positive features" of planters and planting, it felt it would have had a better visual appeal with more public consultation.
The Wimbledon Society felt the alleyway was visually more appealing, but criticised Love Wimbledon for starting on the work without planning permisson. "This sets a bad precedent for others", they fed back to the council.
It urged the council to refuse planning permission, saying the plans have "numerous ill-thought aspects".
Jane Plant, on behalf of Tree Warden Group Merton said the works would "damage rather than enhance the town centre environment". They claimed the four existing pear trees would suffer from being encased in wooden planters. "This scheme is without merit," she added.
Bur Love Wimbledon has said the planter and seat structures do not go to the ground, so all rainwater and runoff will still reach the roots of the tree, as before. The iron protective guards around the trees were already in place.
The proposed decision notice for approval has the condition that it is not a permanent development and the area must be returned to its former condition on, or before, August 31 2026. The food kiosks can also only open from 8am to 8pm.
Hartfield Walk from The Broadway
July 4, 2022