Re-imagining the High Street
How Wandsworth Bridge Road can lead the way for the regeneration for London’s High Streets
We are thrilled to announce that the London Mayor, London Assembly and LBHF have officially selected the WBRA’s ‘High Streets for All’ proposals for the Wandsworth Bridge Road and South Fulham for funding as an exemplary project!
Initially this means we will receive seed funding from the GLA (Greater London Authority), allocated to help us build our partnerships, engage with the community and strengthen the proposals before the next funding stage.
So, over the next few months we will be hosting presentations and discussions, conducting more surveys and seeking direct input from everyone in the community.
See our full announcement here.
In the meantime learn more about the proposals below.
High Streets for All – Rising to the Challenge
The Wandsworth Bridge Road (WBR) has unique challenges. It is one of the few High Streets that directly leads onto a bridge over the Thames. It is also geographically ‘locked’ by the river to the South and the railway line to the East. With Sat-Navs prioritising WBR over other river crossings, coupled with a newly adopted Traffic, Congestion and Pollution Reduction scheme (LTN), the local perception is that the road has been “sacrificed”.
Our proposal aims to create a dynamic and thriving, clean and green high street. This requires bold, imaginative thinking and action. We believe we can shift the function of the road from simply a space for vehicles to pass through to an equitable social and civic hub.
Finally, by demonstrating that our geographically constrained High Street can succeed, this project will be a working example to boost the transformation of other parts of the city.
The Covid Effect
Over the past year, Covid has shifted how people travel. For many, public transport is still avoided and therefore single-occupancy car journeys have increased significantly. This has exacerbated the congestion and pollution. Most days now see standstill traffic from 8am to well beyond 8pm, making WBR an unpleasant and harmful place to be.
Health and Safety for residents and school children
The Northern and Southern ends of WBR are primarily residential with over 900 households.
With over 10 Schools in the South Fulham area, the Wandsworth Bridge Road is used daily by hundreds of children. With large HGVs queuing on the road children are exposed to large amounts of harmful pollution on a daily basis.
Cycling, Walking & Public Transport
WBR is the main artery from south of the river to Fulham Broadway and beyond, with no real provision for cyclists. The road has a large commuting footfall heading to the tube station or to the local schools with insufficient pedestrian crossings. Buses are frequently caught in the standstill traffic.
Local Retail is struggling
Wandsworth Bridge Road has always had a unique configuration of mostly independent shops, cafés & restaurants. Unusually many of these have outside space although their attraction is currently damaged due to the high level of traffic and consequently pollution.
The Covid pandemic has seen a significant number of closures along the road and today long stretches are boarded up, even within the central area. This further contributes to the sense of abandonment of the area.
A Diverse Community
The community on and around WBR is socially, racially and economically diverse. Ranging from the affluent houses on the Peterborough estate in the North to the social housing in the South, the road represents a true cross-section of London. The Sands End ward is the most densely populated ward in LBHF with over 60% of the population in the lower 2 deciles of deprivation.
WBR is the geographical central point for all these communities and should be the social and civic hub stitching the community together.
The Wandsworth Bridge Road Regeneration Zone
Results of our survey show that for the vast majority of people the traffic and congestion on WBR are the main concerns. Many believe that in order to improve the High Street we first need to reduce the amount of through traffic on this road. This will create a more pleasant environment and encourage more people to use it as their local High Street.
Data show that over 80% of the traffic on this road is simply passing through. They are not stopping and therefore are not contributing to the local economy. Added to this, they are directly contributing to the congestion and pollution. This has created an unhealthy, and unwelcoming environment.
To help shift how through traffic views this road, we must create an environment where it is clear they are not the priority. To achieve this, our proposal aims to:
- Prioritise Pedestrians and cyclists
- Create a raised central section with a ’tiled’ road surface equal to the pavement height
- Reduce the speed limit to 5mph/10mph within this zone (this will have the added benefit that Sat Navs will prefer other bridge crossings that are ‘faster’)
- Add new pedestrian crossings with bold, branded markings
- Protect cyclists with cycle lanes and wands
This will help create a sense of ‘I shouldn’t be driving on this road’, a psychosocial modal filter giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists visiting the High Street.
With the raised and altered road surface we must ensure the ‘road’ is clearly differentiated from the ‘pavement’ to ensure the safety of pedestrians, including children and those with visual imparements. This can be achieved through contrasting surface materials and colours as well as bollards.
A pedestrian centre
Whilst the WBR will always remain an open road, since it provides access to the Wandsworth Bridge, there is scope to create a true High-Street Centre in the middle section of the road.
At that point the road would be raised with a speed limit of 5/10mph, with soft-crossing throughout this zone. It is the intention to make clear to the driver that they are “trespassing” on a pedestrian area.
Elsewhere on the road the dangerous traffic islands would be replaced by clearly marked zebra crossings. In the case of the crossing at Woolneigh Street, this would also have a cycle crossing reflecting the large number of children travelling across South Park from Hurlingham Academy into Sands End.
A signalised crossing should be considered at Hugon Road/Stephendale which is currently responsible for a significant amount of Southbound queuing.
Finally we would ask that TFL urgently address the pedestrian phasing on the lights Townmead/Carnwath Road leading onto the bridge. There cannot be many lights left in London where absolutely no provision is made for pedestrians to cross a major road intersection!
As part of this re-pedestrianisation, we have ambitious plans to green the road with more trees, parklets and planters. See below for further details.
As a result of the pandemic there are now a large number of empty shop units. Many of these have wide forecourts on the west side of WBR.
Our proposal aims to work in partnership with these landlords to invite ‘Pop-up’ shops, either within the empty premises themselves or on the external forecourts. We have already spoken to a few of the landlords who are keen to offer their spaces.
The Pop-Ups could be from a single day, a week or month, or longer and would pay a significantly reduced rent to the landlords. This not only helps the landlords by providing some much needed income but also supports new business ideas and will attract more people to the high street.
We would invite a wide range of non-competing business types; from existing businesses in other parts of the borough who are looking to expand, to individuals with simply an idea that need a space to test their business. For the latter we aim to focus on the more disadvantaged communities and those most affected by the pandemic.
This would link closely with our ‘Business Booster’ idea below.
Ensure the pop-ups are not in direct competition to the existing small businesses already present on this road.
Think ‘Dragon’s Den’ but without the fear or judgement. Aimed at young people, emerging entrepreneurs or those needing to pivot post-pandemic this would offer a forum to discuss a business idea directly with business leaders and those with real-life experience.
The aim is to help give a boost to those who would otherwise not know where to start. It fosters ideas and directly gives them help to explore and develop their business proposals.
Topics could include
- What you need to know when setting up a business
- Putting together a business plan
- Setting up accounts, book-keeping, banking, etc
- Marketing and strategy
- Exploring market viability
- Giving back to the community
- Forming networks and business links
These could be monthly forums and lead to mentorships and hopefully new businesses on WBR.
There is also scope for Work Experience placements within the local businesses.
Enhancing the Community Space for young people
The population of Sands End is young. Families with young children, youths, young professionals; all are present in our community.
Today there is limited community space, particularly for the teenagers in the area. The youth centre on Townmead road closed a few years ago and whilst St Matthews Church works hard to provide support for the Sands End community not having a dedicated youth space is detrimental to the well-being of that community.
We would aim to work with key members of this under-represented community to identify a clear set of objectives to improve the conditions for the youths in the area which could include:
- Creation of a new youth centre
- A skate-park at Barton House
- Outreach sporting, music and creative events.
New Community Groups
New Community Groups
The population on and surrounding WBR represents a cross-section of London society. On the road itself there is a wide mix of housing from private terraced houses to flat conversions, low-rise social housing to tower blocks. Car ownership in Sands End is below 50%.
Whilst the community of Parsons Green and around South Park is well organised with multiple community groups, who have all participated in the project to date, there is a notable lack of community groups in the more deprived parts of Sands End.
We seek to rectify this situation, working with local figures in the community to encourage and help the unrepresented sectors of our society to find their voice.
This could be done through existing organisations (St Matthews Church, Sands End Community Centre, etc) and by organising specific walk-in events.
Our objective of creating a social and civic hub for South Fulham will include criteria to ensure every section of society feels equally welcomed, represented and valued.
Expanding the Public Realm
The project will look at all possible options to increase public space for civic engagement.
Discussions with business owners on the street have already begun to explore the use of fore-courts and empty retail space.
Other potential sites have also been identified that could be re-purposed for use by all the community and particularly under-represented sections of the community.
Ideas to date include:
- Community gardens in current privately owned abandoned plot
- Bike storage facilities in empty retail
Designated outdoor youth zone in currently unused and barren space – this could include youth music and drama events.
Safer Cycle Lanes / Road Redesign
WBR is a heavily used route crossing the south of Fulham from north to south. It connects South London across Wandsworth Bridge and as such draws traffic from across the capital.
The plan is to enhance the experience of WBR by calming and slowing traffic, provision for cycling, adding parklets and creating a central section incorporating informal crossing and relegating the motor vehicle to guest status.
Following a detailed walk along the road with HF Cyclists a number of changes were identified to create a safer cycling experience:
- Traffic separating wands
- Bus boarders to chicane the road, with cycle passing allowed
- Re-designed crossing at New Kings Road to allow cyclists to safely cross onto/off Eel Brook Common
- Re-design of the approach onto WBR from the bridge to give priority and protect cyclists
- Re-design the pedestrian crossings to eliminate pinch-points for cyclists.
- Significantly increase the number of cycle parking available both on the road and in dedicated cycle parking bays on some side streets.
Background and Research
WBR is the direct “bee-line” route for cyclists heading North/South from South of the river into Fulham, Earls Court and beyond. No parallel road exists as an alternative for cyclists to use.
Today cyclists compete with HGVs and very heavy traffic on this main high-street. Over 80% of the vehicles on the road are not local. In addition, due to the straight and unimpeded nature of the road, these vehicles, including the HGVs, frequently drive at speeds well in excess of 30mph.
As a cyclist this is very intimidating and potentially life threatening.
There is no protected cycle lane and several very dangerous pinch-points along the road, particularly where traffic islands restrict space.
The approach onto the WBR from Wandsworth Bridge has been highlighted by TFL as one of the most dangerous cycle spots in the city and is used by them as an example of “what not to do” in road infrastructure design.
According to the Department for Transport’s ‘Gear Change’ Document, ‘cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic’, ‘schemes must be easy and comfortable to ride’, and ‘routes should be designed only by those who have experienced the road on a cycle’.
Further to this, according to the core design principles of the statutory LTN 1/20 document, cycle routes must be ‘Coherent’, ‘Direct’, ‘Safe’, ‘Comfortable’ and ‘Attractive’.
None of these principles are being achieved on the Wandsworth Bridge Road.
There are currently Santander cycle docking stations at the North and Southern ends of the road. Residents at the Southern end of Fulham are 1.5 miles from the tube line, a 25 min walk or a 7 min cycle.
There is currently suppressed demand for cycling on the WBR due to the dangerous nature of the road. WBR should be the cycling route for the thousands of residents, not just from South Fulham but also from Battersea Reach on the other side of the river, accessing Fulham Broadway Tube station. In an integrated active transport model WBR is an important last-mile link. Cycling on WBR should be a safe and pleasant experience both for the commuter and for the visitor to the area. Today it is not.
NB: LBHF have committed to reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on WBR.
One of the loveliest features of the WBR is the long avenue of London Plane trees. First planted when the road was initially landscaped in the late 19thC these provide a unique atmosphere to the road.
Trees have an essential role to play both in the fight for Climate Change and at a local level to absorb particulate pollution and provide protective shading in the summer. Sadly there are many large gaps in the tree cover along the WBR.
WBRA and the council are already working to plant a hopefully significant number of London Plane trees in the autumn. However there will always be scope to increase the tree cover.
We would also like to explore a community SUDS project with the residents and businesses on the road to improve water-access for the trees and reduce rain-water loss through the drains.
As part of the design of the Regeneration Zone we would explore the possibility of increasing tree cover here to shade the cafés, pop-up street-stalls etc. In this case different tree species would be considered that optimise both shade and pollution absorption, for example, Lime.
The Southern end of the road is particularly bereft of tree cover and would form part of a carefully considered “greening” of the current concrete space in front of Barton House alongside parklets, planters and community features.
Trees, Parklets & Planters
Parklets, Planters & Greenscreens
Combining trees and flower planters with wooden seating and cycle parking, these new ‘parklets’ are designed to make the area more pleasant for residents, shoppers and businesses, while also encouraging cycling and improving air quality.
H&F first installed these parklets in Hammersmith Grove with great success in 2018.
Our High Street for All bid envisages parklets along the side-streets of the WBR to enhance the experience on the road and provide seating and greenery for shoppers and residents. In other streets not adjacent to the central zone we are looking at a combination of planters and additional cycle parking. Both the parklets and planters encourage biodiversity.
As a community initiative we would seek sponsorship from partner organisations, schools and community groups to share responsibility for the maintenance of the planters alongside the borough as well as providing educational opportunities for local school children on planting and bio-diversity.
These provide localised protection from particulate pollution from vehicles. We would envisage use of these at either end of the road where there is queuing traffic at the lights to protect pedestrians waiting to cross. Ivy planters are also good for nature – bees love them.
WBR should be a pleasant tree-lined avenue, inviting pedestrians to stroll past the shops, sit in the outside courtyard of a café or restaurant and enjoy the best of city-living. The space is there as many of the retail units do enjoy front forecourts onto the pavement and there are beautiful plane trees shading the road.
Unfortunately, there is also high pollution due to alternating stationary traffic and speeding traffic, including a disproportionally high number of HGVs.
Many respondents of our survey indicated that as a result they no-longer choose to walk down the WBR. The consequences are that footfall for the shops has decreased and a vicious spiral has begun.
Yet recent research shows that shoppers on foot can spend up to six times more than those who arrive by car.
The plan is to reverse this situation be returning the function of the road to the users of the road; residents, shoppers and pedestrians, rather than to the through-traffic.
Green-Roof Bus Stops
Green-Roof Bus Stops
Installing green, living, bee-friendly roofs on all bus stops.
These low maintenance living roofs help to improve air quality by absorbing CO2 and fine particulate matter.
They also increases biodiversity by creating ‘wildlife corridors’ in cities which help insects and wildlife and could help sustain certain species altogether such as the threatened bee population.
There is a direct relationship between greenery, community ‘value’ and a healthy commercial climate.
These roofs also support the psychological shift of how this road is viewed.
Read more about these here.
Street Markets / Festivals
Hosting a Christmas Market and/or Summer Fete festival. This would include working with the council to fully close the street and invite market stalls, local vendors, stall holders from other parts of the community, as well as artists, musicians, crafts and various forms of entertainment.
The focus would be on ensuring the WBR businesses are able to expand their offerings by extending into the open spaces. Local, non-competing stalls would also be invited / curated.
These would be similar to other events in the borough such as the North End Road Christmas Market which have been hugely successful and offers a much-needed boost to the community.
These markets have the added benefit of introducing the local community to some of the shop holders that they may not have been aware of.
We would need to work closely with LBHF and plan with traffic officers well in advance to ensure traffic is well managed on the day. Similar considerations are already implemented for events such as the Prudential Cycle race.
Community Notice Board / Shop Directory
Community Notice Board / Shop Directory
A Notice Board for locals to post information and to learn about issues affecting the community. This should be used to encourage connection, particularly for the most vulnerable in the community who may not have access to online information.
A Shop Directory would give some of the businesses who are not in the central hub a means to be seen by those who might otherwise miss them. This should also provide affordable advertising space for the local businesses.
About the WBRA
The Wandsworth Bridge Road Association is run voluntarily by a small group of local residents / business owners.
Founded the WBRA in the summer of 2020 in response to the new LTN / TCPR east of WBR. The aim was to establish a means for the local residents and businesses to have a voice in local matters that directly affect them. Since then the Association has grown substantially and continues to make connections with other key local organisations and partnerships.
Gary also is co-owner of Yellow Elephant Designs, a web and graphic design business (having designed the WBRA site amongst countless others) and is a passionate creator.
Natalie has lived on the WBR for 25 years and her 4 kids have grown up on the road.
With a background in project management and entrepreneurship Natalie has worked in the public, private and charitable sectors. She is one of the founders of London Youth Conservatoire, a Fulham based charity music school offering music education to over 250 local students. Natalie worked as a Pollution commissioner with LBHF in 2016/2017 establishing their objectives for pollution reduction which she now wants to see be actively applied.
An environmental campaigner Natalie passionately believes that London can transform itself from a polluted, grid-locked, unhealthy, ecologically impoverished city into a sustainable healthy, active and green city. She is determined to engender this change on the WBR and if it can be achieved here it can be achieved anywhere!
Beatrice works in the Pharmaceutical Industry and has lived on the Wandsworth Bridge Road for 11 years with her young family. Beatrice has a keen interest in the health effects of air pollution and is passionate about reducing car dependency in cities. Beatrice believes that cargo bikes are the solution, having converted a comparatively arduous 20 minute walking/scooting school-run to a safe and easy 5-minute jaunt by cargo bike over 3 years ago, Beatrice has never looked back and has enjoyed the freedom to explore London by bike as a family ever since. Beatrice encourages others to try it too, and is very excited to see more and more cargo bikes appearing each year!
Resident living on the Wandsworth Bridge Road since 2010. As a car free family, Jonathan can often be seen whizzing his children around on his Urban Arrow Family e-cargo bike. Also a chartered Architect with offices located at 312 Wandsworth Bridge Road.
Jonathan has been a core member of the Wandsworth Bridge Road Association since its creation, is a Friends of South Park committee member, a regular attendant of LBHF Business Network meetings and member of the BNI Exchange (Fulham) chapter. From September, Jonathan will be Head Coach for U7s at Hammersmith and Fulham RFC.
Jonathan believes that localised pollution must be reduced with immediate effect on all roads for the health of all. Failure to speedily tackle this in the high street will mean the controlled use of other roads will have to be considered as an alternative
Steering Committee - High Streets for All Challenge
The following volunteers are helping to guide our proposals and offer their experience and unique perspectives.
Read Casey's bio
Head of HF Cyclists and member of London Cycling Campaign.
More to follow...
Community & Parks
Read Clair's bio
Clair Gordon has brought her experience in marketing and as a Live Event Producer to countless community projects in recent years. She’s a ubiquitous figure in the Wandsworth Bridge Road neighbourhood where she can often be found supervising the restoration of the Heritage Garden in South Park; sitting on the committee for Ray’s Playhouse; or volunteering as Governor, Trustee or Chair of innumerable charities, where her diverse talents for fundraising, grant application and managing teams are highly valued.
Having lived in Fulham for 25 years, Clair is passionate about reinvigorating the local area in any and every possible capacity. She has an intuitive way of bringing people together and utilising their strengths, and has served as a matchmaker to all manner of inspired partnerships, both personal and corporate. Having worked closely with local schools, and Friends groups, she also has a profound knowledge of what has come and gone, the people involved and the logistics of day-to-day life in her community. This knowledge has benefitted local residents through endeavours as diverse as music festivals, dog-shows, water-fountains and eco-gardens.
A High Street For All is an ideal project for Clair, whose passion for the environment, along with a sensitivity to the rich history of the area, will help inform the team’s vision for a bright new future for the Wandsworth Bridge Road.
Markets, Fairs & Events
Read Annabelle's bio
I am the co-owner of the KAF and the KAF Larder on Wandsworth Bridge Road. We aim to provide the local community with great coffee, an artisan food shop and interesting dining experiences and to add to the growing choice of great food & drink establishments on the WBR. I have previously owned market food stalls, one retail and the other food service.
As a former City solicitor, I also have a great experience in organisation and making sure all bases are covered and everyone’s needs are taken into consideration.
I love markets and think they can be a welcome addition to any neighbourhood, bringing great choice to the consumer, attracting new people and old alike to the area and increasing exposure for our local businesses.
I believe that a nice variety of pop-ups, fetes, markets and outdoor events can help make the WBR into a destination and bring our lovely area and fantastic businesses the visibility they deserve!
Urban Regeneration & Land Use
Read Euan's bio
Euan is a lifelong sands end resident with a passion for sustainable urban regeneration. His interest in the topic has seen him work with not-for-profit organisations in London and the South-East, with a specific focus on turning vacant land into community assets.
In September Euan will be starting a masters course in urban design and city planning where he hopes to broaden his knowledge of sustainable planning practices.
Rev'd William Rogers
Read William's bio
Vicar of St. Matthews Church on Wandsworth Bridge Road.
Children, Road Safety, Schools
Read Wiko's bio
Wiko has lived just off the Wandsworth Bridge Road for the past 6 years and her children attend local schools.
Wiko is actively involved as a lead volunteer at one of the local schools and is a central figure in the local community.
Like so many others her family cross the WBR innumerable times every day going from their home on the East side of the road to their school on the West side and back again. Wiko passionately believes that the road must be made safer for the children of the area both in terms of road safety and reducing the current high levels of pollution.
Local Business Development
Read Naz's bio
The founder of Naz Zeneldeen Hair Salons and owner of residential properties on Wandsworth Bridge Road, also lived in Wandsworth bridge road for 4 years in the past and has a strong connection with the community through his business and family.
Naz is passionate about improving air quality also making Wandsworth bridge road cleaner, greener and safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Read Isabel's bio
Isabel is a movement teacher, English tutor and process facilitator whose teachings are at the intersection of the outer and the inner "transition”.
Inspired by her studies and practise of yoga, permaculture and beyond Isable helps people be more present in their bodies and create more balanced inner and outer ecosystems.
Isabel also holds “emergency to emergence” workshops for communities and organisations which facilitate the imagination and cocreation of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible
Read Ahmadou's bio
Technical Director at Jolof Youth Sports Club.
More to follow...
Read Su's bio
I've lived and worked in Fulham since 1983. My occupation was in the sales and marketing field. My community involvement started as a committee member, then Chair of the Eelbrook Commoners working with LBHF Parks Department to improve the lighting and general amenities on the Common. In 1988 this led on to being invited by the BBC and the Chief Superintendent of Hammersmith Police to sit on their Crime Prevention Panel working alongside many of the major employers in the Borough to address the growing crime problem. In 1992-2000 I was the fund raising director of what was then the Fulham Training Workshops and later re-branded as the H&F Skills Centre which offered vocational training for deprived young people at risk.
I welcome the chance to work with the Wandsworth Bridge Road Association in conjunction with LBHF to change the hierarchy of road users in this busy through road. A High Street For All is an inspirational project that would bring huge benefits to all sections of our community.
Read John's bio
Marketing and Design
Read Mark's bio
Founding partner of WBR based Yellow Elephant Designs, Mark has worked as an Art Director with 3 of the top 10 Advertising Agencies in London. With a career spanning 30+ years Mark has won multiple design awards for multi-national big brands, such as Barclays, Halfax, Tesco, WH Smiths, Dixons and numerous others.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community Mark also established and promomted several clubs and events across London.
Sara Jusu Sheriff
Youth & Community
Read Sara's bio
I have lived off the WBR since I was 4 in 2006 and grown up around South Park and along the high street. As a massive advocate for a greener future I have always tried to take buses, tubes and Santander cycles around London. However, the congestion and pollution of WBR has always been noticeable, and I believe so much more can be done to improve its safety and efficacy. I am passionate about sustainable urban development, something I am able to explore further in my current BA Geography degree at the University of Manchester. To see WBR be brought together by improvements, into a cohesive unpolluted community, supporting local stores whilst ensuring its authenticity remains would be wonderful.
Buses and Walking
Read Wendy's bio
Has lived in Wandsworth Bridge Road for 15 years and in the area for 35 years. No car for many years. Walk whenever practicable and use public transport (particularly buses) as working frequently in Wandsworth.