Group aims for vibrant street scene
A group of residents, businesses and local councillors are working together to improve the environment of Wimbledon's busy Kingston Road.
Campaigners are working towards a Kingston Road Improvement District, which they hope will transform the area into a 'destination', rather than a thoroughfare.
Resident Belinda Thomas (right), who lives on Kirkley Road, off Kingston Road, has been involved in the group since it had its first meeting in the late summer of 2011.
She said: "We want a vibrant street scene. It would be nice if people came here and stayed around because it was a great place to relax".
The group are working on suggestions to improve the length of Kingston Road - from South Wimbledon station to Wimbledon Chase.
Ideas have included improving the look of the street, with better pavements, shopfronts and planters. They're also discussing the possibility of cycle stands, traffic calming and improved parking signage.
But the group, which has had four meetings since the scheme was first germinated when Merton Borough Councillor David Dean was canvassing at Belinda's door in 2011, has other plans to attract people to the area.
They are investigating the possibility of a regular farmers' market at Pelham Primary School in Southey Road and even the potential of a 'pop-up' shop selling items such as organic food. They are also exploring possible funding options for the improvements.
Councillor Diane Neil Mills, who together with Henry Nelless, are Conservative Councillors for Abbey Ward, have been involved from the start and are working on introducing a Neighbourhood Plan for the area.
Under the Localism Bill, small areas will be empowered to develop their own planning frameworks and they believe Kingston Road would be a perfect candidate. A Neighbourhood Plan could set out planning policies for high quality shop fronts, proper pavements, trees, attractive street lighting and rubbish bins. It would require a local referendum to bring it into effect, but the councillors are hoping a voluntary code could be established in the interim.
Councillor Neil Mills said: "With high quality shop fronts such as the London Pottery Company and Gooseberry Bush Centre, we have set a benchmark that we would like all shops to achieve. There are funds in Merton Council's accounts that have been specifically set aside to help businesses and we are lobbying for these funds to be released for investment in Kingston Road."
Belinda, who is studying for an MSc in Food Policy at City University, added: "We want to keep people spending in the area. We have to support our local shops if we want a vibrant street scene."
She even persuaded The Fireplace Centre in Kingston Road to let the Wimbledon Food Group grow produce on the land at the back of their shop. Wimbledon Food Group is part of Transition Town Wimbledon and Sustainable Merton and would be keen to hear from anyone else with an available patch. Belinda is pictured above in the mini-allotment behind the shop.
Angela Yates, who runs the Gooseberry Bush Centre in Kingston Road, said: "There are some nice businesses in Kingston Road and we would like to make it a better place. We want people to see it as a destination."
The group would also to hear from any local businesses and residents who would be interesting in contributing their ideas. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Conservative proposal to introduce new free 20-minute parking bays across Merton, which they felt would benefit Kingston Road, was rejected at the council's budget-setting meeting on Wednesday (March 7).
March 9, 2012