Local character study will inform future planning decisions in the borough
Time to comment on the Merton Character Study
The distinctive character of Wimbledon and the rest of the borough of Merton has been analysed by a firm of architects behind London’s newest skyscraper – the 40-storey tower at 100 Bishopgate.
Architects Allies and Morrison have completed a 179-page “character study” of the borough for Merton council, in advance of its new Local Plan and forthcoming Supplementary Planning Document.
The study is to be used to help an approach to managing growth in the borough, based on places and their characters. It should also inform decisions made by council officers and be an important tool for developers.
Merton’s next local plan, which it will use as a basis for planning decisions, closed for consultation earlier this month. It is due to be adopted by the end of the year.
However, there is still an opportunity to comment on the ‘Merton Character Study’ report, which is open for consultation on this link until March 23.
To help produce the study, which sets out a description of the physical form of the borough, its history, places, streets and buildings, more than 450 local residents have already been consulted.
The study analyses the key issues and opportunities in the suburbs and towns of the borough – with potential enhancements identified which could form part of future developments.
Some of the more interesting enhancements put forward are in the Wimbledon Common section of the report. Here it suggests:
• Opportunities for natural childrens play areas on the Common or in Cannizaro Park.
• Ongoing management and improvements of traffic and car parking for access to the Common.
• Traffic calming and public realm improvements along Parkside to enhance the sense of driving carefully 'through' the character of the Common.
In Wimbledon town centre it identifies key sites for development including the railway “corridor”, surface car parks and sites along The Broadway. It adds: “Development in the commercial centre should take account of the existing scale and views from The Ridgway and the grain of the historic centre.
“There are challenges in mediating between the scale of the surrounding residential neighbourhoods and the core town centre and key sites that come forward here will need to carefully consider this transition.”
Opportunities identified in the town centre include design guidance for “sensitive” intensification of terraced residential streets though extensions and conversions. It also says back garden developments could form new mews.
For South Wimbledon, it envisages a ‘re-imaginged’ Morden Road as a “green corridor that celebrates the gateway to South Wimbledon..and connects strategic green spaces”.
It adds: “The assets of Nelson Gardens, Abbey Recreation Ground and Morden Hall Park linking to the River Wandle all have frontage along the route and should provide the launchpads for a significantly greened route to help mitigate pollution and enhance the environmental quality.
"Significantly re-balancing the road space towards active travel, sustainable modes and greening, as well as seeking opportunities to deliver more positive frontage to the road should be a key priority.”
In Colliers Wood, it recommends a celebration of major textile history in William Morris and Arthur Liberty. It suggests the River Wandle is ‘rediscovered’ and there is better wayfinding for historical assets.
The area’s retail parks could be redeveloped into a riverside urban district that celebrates its industrial heritage, which should be the starting point of any plans for the area.
It summarises its vision for Colliers Wood:
“A comprehensive and joined up masterplan should set out a phased strategy for the reimagining of the area between Colliers Wood High Street, south to Abbey Mills and east to also include the Tandem Centre. The first phase of this strategy will include the car park south of Britannia Point and Priory Retail Park.”
The key moves of any plan for Colliers Wood should include:
• Seek opportunities to better celebrate the major textile design history of the area including Morris and Liberty - this could include a museum/information area, wayfinding, materials and motif selection.
• The opening up and revealing of the riverside for leisure, biodiversity and to drive design quality.
• The industrial heritage should drive the design ethos and quality - impacting the choices in terms of material character, urban grain and an urban connected street
• Transform vehicular dominated routes with a negative character and severing effect into streets with a pleasant character for all modes.
February 15, 2021