Regeneration project: Hackbridge
The Outer London Fund has given Sutton Council £835,000, matched by £366,000 of local investment, to revitalise Hackbridge. This local centre could become a new gateway to two important nearby green spaces, the River Wandle and Wandle Valley Regional Park. With support, businesses could benefit from the proposed redevelopment of the Felnex trading estate into a new residential quarter. Funding is also supporting ‘Heart of Hackbridge’ a partnership between Sutton Council and local charity BioRegional. Plans include traffic calming to create an accessible and pedestrian-friendly town centre, alongside business support and shop front improvements to make Hackbridge an attractive shopping destination.
In December 2012 and 2013, Hackbridge Christmas Wonderland turned the centre into a top-notch destination for the day and helped show how the area could attract new visitors. There were many community events including an appearance by Father Christmas and his reindeer, carol concerts by local schools, a treasure hunt staged by local retailers, and in 2013 an ice rink was installed in the carpark of the station. The events have been very popular drawing hundreds of people, with local shops reporting strong trading.
Wide roads and heavy traffic through Hackbridge gives the impression it is a route to somewhere else rather than a destination itself. Architects Adams & Sutherland, working with Civic Engineers, have planned changes to create a more walkable space and decrease the dominance of cars. Proposals will see roads narrowed and pedestrian crossings introduced to encourage easier movement around the town centre – creating a better balance of space for different users. A new pocket park in the centre of Hackbridge will create space for occasional markets and community events. It will also be a gateway connecting Hackbridge to Wandle Valley Regional Park.
Visitors to Hackbridge rarely linger. Physical improvements and business advice via ‘Heart of Hackbridge’ will create a better shopping destination and take advantage of new residential development and the emerging regional park. Consultancy Retail Revival has provided intensive business support sessions, small business grants and a Hackbridge directory. Fifteen local traders have won grants for projects including fitting a local café with new seats, giving a shop more efficient LED light bulbs and providing a coffee van with solar panels. A new Green Business Network has also been set up and offers free workshops to help businesses be more sustainable.
Local charity BioRegional has worked regularly with Sutton Council, helping develop a One Planet Action Plan with targets for council operations and interventions to help Sutton achieve One Planet living by 2025. This established working relationship underpins the ‘Heart of Hackbridge’ project. As part of this, a Hackbridge Network was set up to give businesses a chance to work together as a group to pursue individual and centre-wide growth or transformation opportunities. Members of Hackbridge Network and the Neighbourhood Development Group became an integral part of the Project Board with direct involvement in important decisions on project design and delivery.
The challenge for Hackbridge is how to develop the centre into a destination in its own right rather than the current pick and mix of shops on a very busy road. This is being achieved by putting in cost effective and visually coherent design solutions which calm traffic and better balance the needs of different road users. The approach developed for Hackbridge by Civic Engineers has used tried-and-tested models built in places like New Road in Brighton and Poynton in Cheshire. The main aims are to tame heavy traffic and change road behaviour by creating better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Partners/client: LB Sutton, BioRegional
Funding: Mayor of London £835,000, LB Sutton £366,000