Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Update on site visit to Tolworth

Faraz and I took a drive to the other side (east?) of the roundabout yesterday and also North on the A3 to look at the housing stock in the area. Although it wasn't exactly public housing there was a definite air of 'in need of modernisation' as the estate agents might put it. The odd thing is, there are no estate agents. Well, one actually but they only handled lettings as no one is selling.

Due to the lack of estate agents we came up with a hasty Plan B and talked to some of the other shop keepers and a few people on the street. The general consensus seems to be that the area is pretty safe, run down, possibly boring to live in. People do use public transport and most thought the buses were good. People also seemed OK with using the underpass. The only ones who didn't use it said it was more due to the fact that it was quite a long way round rather than any inherent personal safety issues. Of the 13 people we spoke to only one had had a bad experience in the subway - young teens (13-16) gathering on Friday and Saturday evenings drinking beer had thrown empty cans at him. He still used the underpass out of necessity but was nervous about it. The addition of the mirrors had helped though.

There are some parks and they seem popular with locals although a couple of them thought that more kids facilities would be good e.g.more swings, slides etc. Generally there is a lack of amenities though. People would drive to Surbiton and Malden for supermarket shopping, swimming pools, cinemas etc.

The really surprising thing that we discovered is a plan to put a bridge over the roundabout and a green walkway down the middle of the Broadway. Check out http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3146222. This seems like a really good idea but whether it will ever get funded remains to be seen. What is immediately apparent is that the central barrier on the Broadway and the roundabout mean that the shops and facilities are really separated. It's difficult to get from one side of the Broadway to the other without either taking your life in your hands or a long walk around. One business owner on Tolworth Rise South said he regularly (up to 10 times a day) saw people walking along the side of the road above the A3 and working their way around the roundabout rather than go all the way round to the underpass. He also observed that, because of the barriers, both the roundabout and the Broadway central reservation, there was a lot of similar businesses but they tended not to affect each other as people were effectively stuck on one side or the other. He also noted that because the whole area was developed all at once in the 60's it has pretty much all decayed at the same rate giving this overall run-down feeling.

The main businesses are fast food by quite a margin with the only supermarkets being the lower end brands - Budgen and Iceland. There also seem to be quite a few 'business to business' suppliers too.

The general overview would be friendly but run-down. A possible perception of anti-social behaviour, particularly from outside people, but now based on fact. In need of updating and a major re-planning of the area. Parking is a major issue so people will walk or use public transport rather than drive if they can. What local amenities there are get used but more would be better. That's all for now.


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