Landmark units opposite station to become Metro Bank
Campaigners have called for Waterstones and WHSmith to open new branches in Wimbledon following the closure of their existing large town centre shops, when their leases ended in January.
A planning application was made in February 2014 to allow the shops in Wimbledon Bridge House to be converted into a bank, with the building’s landlord, Hermes Real Estate, backing the change.
The two units are due to become a Metro Bank, incorporating a regional training centre. It is thought it will open later this year.
In the meantime, local Lib Dems have launched a petition to show public support for the booksellers’ return to the town centre. Love Wimbledon is also working with both Waterstones and WHSmith to identify new locations in the town centre.
It said: “Love Wimbledon is working with Waterstones and WHSmith to identify suitable new locations for the businesses in the town centre. As a Business Improvement District we want, like many customers and residents, to continue to see popular stores in our town centre and these would include WHSmith and Waterstones.”
Waterstones have already told the Bookseller that they are looking for a new site in Wimbledon.
Lib Dem Campaigner Anthony Fairclough said: “In December, when we asked if they would open other branches in the town - Waterstones said ‘there isn't a plan at this point’ and WHSmith didn't respond to us. We’re worried that they’ve known for nearly a year that their leases would end, but have seemingly made no plans to open new shops.
“It's a crying shame to see most of the bookshops in Wimbledon disappearing – our petition is meant to convince them to hurry up about coming back.”
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Merton & Wandsworth’s Lib Dem candidate for the London Assembly said: “Vibrant and viable high streets are a key part of building and supporting the local community – they provide local jobs, things to do, and places to meet. Shops closing means fewer reasons for people to come to Wimbledon, which in turn will lead to more shops and businesses closing."
A Waterstones spokeperson told the Bookseller: “The last day of trading in Wimbledon is the 17th January. Wimbledon is indeed a place where we would like to have a bookshop and we are looking for a new site."
Since Friday around 300 residents have signed the petition, which can be accessed online here: http://bit.ly/WaterstonesSmiths.
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January 18, 2016