Merton council continues with plans despite some public disapproval
By Kieran Walsh
Wimbledon residents will endure road works until early 2012 as work starts on £2.5 million facelift.
The plans, which include reducing the number of traffic lanes, will go ahead despite 71.6% of people opposing them in a public consultation in May and June this year.
Leoni Munslow, Communication Assistant at Merton Council, said: “To achieve the wider accessibility benefits it is essential to reduce the number of lanes.
“People did recognise that the wider benefits were desirable but understandably were concerned about traffic congestion.”
Many welcomed the scheme’s plans to redevelop the area with wider pavements, new street furniture, more greenery and replacing the worn out paving stones.
Wimbledon resident David Firth, 47, said: “It’s a nice idea – the place needs a spruce up. I like the idea of making the area outside the station pedestrian friendly and adding more trees.”
Phase one, the least contentious part of the plans, has already begun on Wimbledon Hill Road and is expected to finish in February 2011, with a hiatus during the Christmas period.
Three other stages are still being considered due a radical re-working of the existing roads which includes a new diagonal pedestrian crossing at Alexandra Road.
Phase two will create a gateway into Wimbledon Train Station and a new forecourt to make the area more attractive to tourists.
However, some people have expressed concerns about the effect on travelling to and from work and school during this long-term building project.
Amy Rosier, 18, said: “It is a pain! They are always doing it and with all the road works a bus that should take five minutes takes more like twenty.”
Ms Munslow said the latter stages will be put on hold until a certification of a traffic model that shows the scheme will not increase overall congestion.
The Destination Wimbledon Project is a joint venture from Merton Council, National Rail, Southwest Trains and Transport for London.
For more information visit Merton Council’s website or http://www.merton.gov.uk/neighbourhood/wimbledon/destinationwimbledon.htm.