Tradition and technology are likely to be the twin keys to unlocking Wimbledon’s key to its future prosperity.
That was the view of the chair of the first Future Wimbledon Conference, which was held at the Odeon Cinema and Cannizaro House on Tuesday, September 17, to highlight the development opportunity that exists in the south London town.
Emma Peters, director of Regenfirst, said the town needed to identify a unique selling point to investors - based on its reputation for quality - and felt the conference had provided a great platform for starting the debate on how Wimbledon should position itself.
“In his speech, Councillor Andrew Judge described Wimbledon as being all about tradition and technology,” she said.
“I believe those two properly managed will point the way for the future of Wimbledon.”
Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis, renowned architect Richard Rogers, Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse and Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis were among the speakers at the conference which brought the private and public sector together to discuss the opportunities which Crossrail 2 will present.
In her summing up speech Ms Peters said: “It’s hard to do justice to all the contributions that have been made because they have been of a very high quality.
“I’ve learned that Wimbledon has got enormous pride in its past and present, with the SW19 brand, Wimbledon fortnight, the suburban dream and the common. It has also got huge confidence in its future with connectivity, skills and education and arts and culture all key to the quality of the brand.
“There’s real excitement and passion here about the opportunity that exists. Lord Rogers’ vision for Las Ramblas-style pedestrianisation clearly resonated with speakers and delegates because liveability is something to celebrate.
“The ambitions for Wimbledon are clearly rooted in reality. There is nothing fundamentally wrong - it doesn’t have to transform. It wants to build on its own strengths and celebrate itself.
“It’s about creating the opportunities in Wimbledon for families to live and grow and for businesses, both large and small, to thrive and to prosper.”
Mr Paphitis, who runs his businesses such as Rymans the stationers, Robert Dyas and Boux Lingerie, from an office in the town told a packed room that Wimbledon was the ideal place to do business.
“I’m very proud to say that 236 of my stores are in communities,” he said. “I just wish that all of the communities were as vibrant, as qualitative, desirable and as driven as this community here.
“I’ve had an office in Wimbledon since the early Nineties and when I’ve moved around to be with the various businesses that I’ve bought, my hankering has always been to get back to Wimbledon.
“The reason for that is it’s a great place to be. We’ve got all the benefits of being able to work close to town, we’ve got transport links to die for, a big pool of workforce and a vibrant workforce.
“As Emma says there’s very little wrong with Wimbledon and we need to make sure there continues to be very little wrong with Wimbledon.
“It’s got the greenery, the walks, the community and extremes of shopping. We’ve got the twee part of Wimbledon, with the boutiques and the independents, which is brilliant. And at the other end of the high street we’ve got the multiples - so we’ve got the best of absolutely everything.”