Meeting on Town Centres – Feedback

Author: Cyril Richert

The Wandsworth Society organised a successful public meeting on Thursday 14th February to talk about out 5 town centres (Balham, Clapham Junction, Putney, Tooting, Wandsworth town). A panel made  by John Dawson (Secretary of the Wandsworth Society), Philip Whyte (Chair, Wandsworth Society), Ian McDonald (town planer and economist) and Roger Bone introduced the meeting with speeches.

25 slides where presented (5 for each town centre) and I will only report on the discussions related to Clapham Junction.

Clapham Junction and Tooting are the largest town centres in the borough. Clapham Junction spreads from St John’s Hill to Lavender Hill, St John’s Road, Battersea Rise and Northcote Road, with a shopping area of 46,000 sqm (Tooting is covering 50,000 sqm).  Clapham Junction is the third town centre for offices (after Putney and Wandsworth town, mainly due to the town hall buildings for the latest one) and the second for leisure (after Tooting).

The Clapham Junction town centre has been greatly improved in the last two years with the opening of Brighton Yard new station entrance and the implementation of the exemplar scheme, a plan to refurbish and improve all the pavements around the Junction.

Read our articles:
> Clapham Junction Exemplar scheme
> Exemplar Scheme St John’s Road
> Brighton Yard

Lorinda Freint, the CJ town centre manager, said that Debenhams and Waitrose had their best year yet in 2012. Waterstone on St John’s road, although in difficulties nationally, is one of their best store and had a very good year. However it is noticeable that unfortunately people tend to order more on the Internet. An example was given with the shop selling electric appliances, cookers, etc on Lavender Hill that was hit by the riots in 2011; although the owner was insured and got compensation, he decided not to re-open: the business is no longer there, and more and more people were coming for washers and advice, and preferred eventually to buy their appliance on the Internet.

Jon Irvin, co-chair of the Wandsworth Environment Forum, said that Wandsworth Council should concentrate on public space and trees to make the shopping area experience more enjoyable.

Within the next 12 months, the Council said that all the streets/pavements were going to be assessed in order to check if there is a need to repair, and will be classified within one of the 3 categories: dangerous, to become dangerous, cosmetic needs. People are encouraged to report to the Council any specific needs and failures they notice.

The end of the meeting was dedicated to a few words on the Ram Brewery proposal. In a nutshell, the developer Minerva wants a 36 storey towers to sell the last 10 floors for millions, and Wandsworth Council has decided they want a “signature” building. Of course, it disregards all the conservation area, and the Grade II* town centre buildings – All Saints Church and Church Row.

Read our article:
> Ram Brewery: a list of reasons for objection

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