Regeneration project: Mitcham

Mitcham has received £514,000 from Round Two of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund, matched by £471,000 from Merton, for a series of projects to improve Mitcham town centre. A 1990s pedestrianisation project has meant that the previously busy high street has deteriorated, suffering from a lack of footfall. In the short-term, the look and feel of Mitcham is being improved. Shop fronts are being smartened and Mitcham Market is getting a new lease of life with special themed days and ‘Love Mitcham’ events. A new website and programme of business support is also boosting local traders and encouraging entrepreneurs to set up in Mitcham. Longer term, TfL are redesigning the busy roads that circle the town centre, a project that follows on from work funded by the Mayor.

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Animating places

Mitcham’s town team, One Mitcham, is hosting an ongoing programme of seasonal events to bring people to the town centre, encourage visitors to linger, and in turn increase visits to surrounding shops. The first event in 2013, ‘Make Mitcham Your Valentine’, gave the existing market a twist with flowers, cakes, greetings cards, personalised gifts and a ‘Love Mitcham’ message board. In summer 2013, Mitcham Carnival featured music, acrobats, theatre, a town parade and the ‘Big Hair Do’ float to market the town’s many hairdressers and barbers. The festivities have continued throughout the year, with special themed markets, a Cycle Cinema and a Food Festival.

Public spaces

Mitcham town centre is surrounded by areas of housing, but many people living close-by choose not to shop on their local high street. A range of art installations around the centre – including a painted allotment fence on Eastfields Road and purpose made benches on Three Kings Piece - are providing a positive and attractive identity for the area, as well as helping people to find their way around, guiding them towards the town centre.

Building frontages

Studio Weave is overseeing the redesign of a number of Mitcham’s shop fronts, to improve perception of the area and make it more attractive to visitors. Fourteen shops deemed to have the greatest impact on the town centre’s overall appearance, have been selected. Improvements focus on rebranding shops with new signage, vinyl graphics and hand painting. The Don Café has received bold new fascia and signage, while new lettering on the town’s resident secondhand furniture shop has been designed to make each letter look like an item of furniture. These small changes are helping to bring a feeling of quality and vibrancy to the high street.

Supporting business

One Mitcham has set up a pop-up business advice hub at Mitcham Market – the ‘Mitch Pitch’. Every Tuesday and Thursday, traders, budding entrepreneurs and business owners are invited to receive one-to-one support or attend a special workshop. Events have included advice on tax, business crime, blogging, visual merchandising and tips on making a business green. Being part of the market, positioned at the heart of trade in Mitcham, has made the Mitch Pitch accessible and approachable, which has contributed significantly to its success.

Stewardship

The new One Mitcham website, funded by the Mayor and Mitcham council and run by an active group of volunteers, has created a forum and online community, and a place to publicise local happenings. It features information on events, as well as descriptions of market traders and their stalls. The site also encourages locals to get involved through the ‘One Mitcham Exchange’, showcasing events and projects led by residents and traders. The One Mitcham brand, which also has a social media strategy, is part of an overall drive to promote pride in Mitcham and unite the community.

Borough: London Borough of Merton

Partners/client: London Borough of Merton, Transport for London

Consultants: Studio Weave, Retail Revival

Funding: Mayor of London £514,000, LB Merton £471,000

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