An innovative line-up featured at the first Future Wimbledon Conference on Tuesday, September 17, 2013.
Renowned architect Lord Rogers, entrepreneur and TV star Theo Paphitis and Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise Kit Malthouse were among the main speakers at the event, which aimed to create a vision for Wimbledon’s future.
And delegates didn’t spend all day in a conference room. They were also taken out and about on a guided tour of Wimbledon, getting a unique introduction to opportunity sites and historic landmarks.
The event started at the Odeon in Wimbledon’s town centre at 9am with an introduction by conference chairman Emma Peters, director of Regenfirst.
That was followed at 9.15am by a session entitled “Welcome to Wimbledon” featuring contributions from Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the leader of Merton Council; Paul Windsor, chairman of Love Wimbledon; Philip Brook, chairman of All England Lawn Tennis Club; and Mark Walker, managing director of Zipcar, an innovative car sharing business which is based in Wimbledon.
Merton Council identified an initial 80 sites in the town centre offering development potential in a sites and policies document and, at 10am, the Wimbledon Opportunity was presented by Councillor Andrew Judge, the borough’s cabinet member for regeneration. He was joined by council officers in providing an overview off the key development opportunities and sites which exist.
After a coffee break, at 11.15am there was the main plenary debate entitled “Wimbledon – The Place”. Architects Richard Rogers and Marcus Beale joined consumer trends specialist David Dean from GDR Creative and Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond to debate what it would take to make Wimbledon a vibrant town centre of the future.
Following a guided tour of Wimbledon, which took place at noon, delegates arrived at Cannizaro House, the historic venue adjacent to Wimbledon Common, for lunch in the venue’s orangerie, which had recently undergone a £3million redevelopment.
The afternoon featured workshops featuring panel debates and delegate interaction. Topics up for discussion were: Retail Innovation; Who Lives in Wimbledon (housing opportunities); Enterprise Culture (Wimbledon’s track record and programmes for nurturing successful entrepreneurial business); Connected Wimbledon (including Crossrail 2) and Brand SW19 (what price culture, retail, leisure and sport?).
Following a conference round-up at 4.45pm the event concluded with a keynote speech by Wimbledon businessman Theo Paphitis, owner of the Ryman and Robert Dyas chains, at 5pm.
That was followed by a networking reception, also at Cannizaro House, providing delegates with a useful opportunity to meet some of Merton’s key decision makers.