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WANTED: Your ideas for a future Balham

Date: Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 February 2013  11am to 4pm

Businesses & residents are invited to give their ideas on a number of schemes to improve Balham Town Centre. This is your chance to influence and shape your local area.

A public consultation event will be will be held on Saturday 23rd (11am to 4pm) & Sunday 24th (11am to 4pm) February in the Balham Community Space, Bedford Hill (next to Sainsbury’s Car park).

Wandsworth Council and The Balham Partnership has secured £1.9million from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund Round 2 (OLF2) programme and match funding to encourage people to explore, enjoy and invest in Balham town centre. 

The funding will be spent on a series of local projects including:

·        Installing Legible London wayfinding signage in the town centre & producing a new pocket map

·        Improving the town centre website (including a new interactive map)

·        Improvements to the railway bridge over Balham High Road

·        Pedestrian improvements to Hildreth Street

·        Improvements to the Balham community space

·        Upgrades to the Post Office forecourt on Balham High Road

·        Public artwork on an unsightly wall on Balham High Road overlooking Waitrose car park

·        A programme of cultural and business events

·        Exploring development opportunities close to Balham Station

The consultation event will be themed around an “Ideas Balloon for Balham”. Local people are invited to find out more about the project and will be encouraged to write their own ideas on helium balloons. When fixed to the basket, the ideas will help to project take off.

The design team will be on hand to answer any questions and performance artists will provide entertainment for children of all ages.  The programme is supported by the Mayor of London. 

The projects will be designed by the end of March 2013 and will be completed by March 2014.   

For further information visit

to (ended)

Balham Community Space, Bedford Hill (next to Sainsbury’s Car Park)

Feb 23


Showing 1 - 25 of 63
Simon L
Why are we spending money on leaflets / a balham website / Upgrades to the Post Office forecourt on Balham High Road which is not a central area to balham. What a waste & this is typical of public sector waste

So what does everyone think Balham needs ?  

We have some great restaurants and pubs, nice local restaurants and some good quality chains, we have banks and every shop needed for day to day life. We also have enviable transport links. So the basics are there for a great Town

I think Hildreth St is the area that needs to become the focal point to Balham and money needs to be spent on this road - having a messy fruit and veg site does not help things (especially when lots of mess if left there each day). When it was used for the Balham Food Festival it worked really well. Attracting the right quality retail space (which is really lacking). Local niche shops or cafes like Milk are the sort of places we need, making it an extension of Northcote road. Resurfacing Hildreth and having seating would be a start. maybe a focal point for families - why not move the Saturday Chestnut grove farmers market to there - that is an asset to balham now.

Balham could invest in new pavements for the high street to smarten the place up and make sure the pavements are kept clear of shops clutter who use the pavement as an extension of their shop. A focus to keep the Town centre clear of litter which blights all of London nowadays
Alan J
How about a little cash to clean and restore to their original brass colour the four bronze resin reliefs called " Impressions of Balham" set in the wall along Balham Station Road.  Being opposite Sainsburys they would get a a lot of attention and cashwise should cost little to do,

Jenny S
Beware what you wish for, Simon L! Many of us around Northcote Road regret the large, messy market and the useful shops we once had. Endless 'family' cafes ie full of buggies,toddlers and babies, and chain fashion stores are not what everyone wants. And gentrification drives out people who have lived  in thearea for years, sometimes generations.
Jill C
Oh Jenny, I do so agree with you. And you put it so nicely! I didn't comment at first for fear of appearing grumpy and rude.
Jane E
Jenny, I also agree.  I now go to Tooting Broadway  or North End Road.  I absolutely hate Northcote Road and it used to be a wonderfully diverse shopping area (with a few great restaurants as well).  What I want to know is how do all those people have both the time and the money to sit around in the child friendly cafes and pubs all day?

Simon: the post sounds very much like so much of the "consultation" which happens today.  A small group of people - largely unelected - get together and decide what we want and then ask us to choose what they have already decided.  I would rather people simply took responsibility for their decisions than waste money on the pretence of consulting.

Perhaps Balham TCM can disprove this and let us know how people were nominated and elected to the decision making process.
mungomuffit inactive
That's great that we have £1.9 million to spend on Balham, but I agree with Simon that Balham TCM's list is underwhelming and much of it seems like  a bad use of the money. What, for example, does "Installing Legible London wayfinding signage in the town centre"  mean and do we really need a new pocket map? I don't think so. Also, I don't mean to be rude but "Exploring development opportunities close to Balham Station" just sounds like a bunch of suits sitting in a room and achieving not very much ...!?

Hildreth St has potential to be like Venn St in Clapham, since it already is pedestrianised and has some great shops but could do with more and a big spruce up, some better paving for instance. Unlike the Northcote Road area, which has seen almost every useful shop driven out of the entire neighbourhood, Hildreth St is only a small part of Balham so fixing it up wouldn't affect the balance of the neighbourhood. I wouldn't want to see the fruit and veg stall go but I hate how they leave so much rubbish behind at the end of the day, including their take away coffee cups.

I'd also like to see more trees and flowerbeds (again, Hildreth St), the bronze railway mural given a buff up (good idea Alan J). and pointless street furnitre/signs removed. Has that disgusting toilet outside Waitrose been removed yet??
Giaga C
The Northcote Road is a parody of itself!  I agree that Balham High Street itself isn't terribly attractive so anything that helps perks it ups (flowers/railway mural buff up/).  I'd also welcome more helpful and by that I mean wide cycle highways in and around Balham/Tooting, but I suppose that is down to Boris. 

The strapping balloons to a basket to help it 'take off' makes me want to chew my arm off.
I agree with pretty much everything here, except the original proposals. I do think Hildreth Street needs tidying up, though, but moving the "Farmers" market there is probably not practical - I put the word in quote marks for a reason!

The only advantage of the pathetic idea of strapping balloons to a basket is that it may attract babies and their buggies for an hour or so and allow us to reclaim our coffee shops!

I am astonished to find that someone has already produced a "map" of Tooting Common! Er, it's a big expanse of grass! Can't wait to see the map of Balham! And I love the idea of "legible London wayfaring signage" - it can just say "keep going straight on and you get to the West End" in capitals.

I despair, I really do - almost two million British quids about to go straight up the Swannee!
mungomuffit inactive
Ewwww, I'd missed that bit about the balloons! That is the most ridiculous waste of money of all.

I'm starting to feel really angry about this now. I think Boris should take the money back if that's all we can come up with! 

What is Balham TCM anyway?
It's the Balham Town Centre Manager, Kim Sullivan.
Jane E
In other words it's about businesses making profit, not about what the community wants.  I agree that businesses need to make profit, but which businesses?  The rents for shops in both Southside and Clapham Junction have gone up so much that small businesses cannot afford them.  Only the faceless chains can pay those sorts of money.
Balham TCM

Many thanks for all your comments & ideas. I will feed these back to the Balham Partnership, Wandsworth Council, Greater London Authority & Metropolitan Workshop (design consultants, who are leading on the public consultation).

The background to the Outer London Fund & the Balham bid is that in June 2011, the Mayor of London announced the creation of a new fund to boost regeneration and rejuvenate town centres - especially in places that were not receiving any direct benefit from Crossrail or the Olympic 2012 investment.

As a result the Balham Partnership & Wandsworth Council put together a bid for our town centre. You can look at the bid at  

The Balham Partnership is comprised of representatives from local businesses (both big and small, chains and independents), local community groups plus locally elected councillors. For more information visit

Having won Mayoral approval for the Baham bid and secured £1.9m of additional investment in our town centre, we are now looking to gauge people's priorities for the town centre as there is some scope to move funding between the various projects.

The forthcoming consultation event on February 23rd and 24th will help shape the proposals, which is why we are keen for local people to attend and contribute their ideas. 

If you have any further comments/ ideas please do post them here or send an email to or  come along to the public consultation event. We do indeed want to hear what local people have to say.

mungomuffit inactive
Thanks Kim. OK, here are a few ideas.

It's a bad idea to spend £1.9m on letting off balloons, "wayfinding signage" (does that just mean road signs??!) and pocket maps. Sorry Kim, you look like a really nice person, but your ideas for spending that staggering amount of money are depressingly bad.

Kim, you haven't even given us proper directions on how to find the "event". I know that area very well (for my sins), but do you mean the Bedford Childrens Centre or that office between Jacksons and the kebab shop ? And when I turn up, will I just find someone whose been sitting there for 5 hours on their weekend hoping desperately that someone doesn't walk through the door?  Spreading the "event" over 5 hours on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday means that it is unlikely that any residents will turn up at the same time and be able to agree/refine ideas. You'll just get a load of disparate ideas, if anyone bothers to turn up at all. Then you'll be able to say that you put on the "event", but nobody turned up, so all those wasteful proposals are going ahead.

And when you say that me turning up will "help shape the proposals", does that mean that the list in your original post is already settled and that we can only have minor input, i.e. what colour balloons you decide to buy?

Not good enough .... But I'm happy (and hoping) to be corrected!
Georgie S
This whole thread  made me laugh out loud.  Love the way Kim has batted away the comments and concerns we have with more pr speak.  And agree that Northcote Road is a truly sad reflection of its former self, bristling with estate agents and chain stores (Bolingbroke Bookshop's just closed now);  hope that's not what the Council is aiming for...Why not use the money to support the handful of independent traders in Balham?
She hasn't so much batted them away as stood there impassively as they are swatted all around her in over after over of fours and sixes [that's enough cricket analogies - Ed]. But then what else could we expect? Perhaps she needs some 'wayfinding signage' to tell her where we're coming from!
Ian Bull
There's no need to spend any money on Balham. The 'market' has spoken and gentrification has been underway for over 10 years.

This is an unstoppable process.

Best - Ian
Ruth D
Well, to take the points one by one:
1. I'm not sure we need more signage or a map - after all, Balham's not that big!
2. Improve the website by all means - i admit i don't use it but it's necessary.
3. I think we've had enough railway bridge improvements for one year....
4. Hildreth Street was only 'improved' a few years ago, but faster clearing up after the market at the end of the day would be a bonus.
5. I'm not sure where the Balham Community Space is - does anyone else know?  The bit on the Bedford Hill side of Sainsbury's car park has been smartened up recently.
6. Upgrades to the Post Office forecourt are a bit of a waste of money - you only see them if you're going to the Post Office! 
7. Public artwork on that ugly wall would be great.
8. Cultural and business opportunities - in my view, if you attract good quality shops to the area the rest will follow.  We have enough restaurants and coffee shops for now.  Can we not encourage a couple of good shops - independent clothing shops or good quality chains? 
9. By all means explore development opportunities close to Balham Station but do leave enough money in the kitty to carry them out! 

Public opinion is free!  Take the ideas of the local community and work with them rather than commissioning pointless surveys by people who don't live in the area.
Simon L
I will be watching with interest to see if this consultation makes any difference to what all these public sector groups think will improve Balham

I think if a group of local residents were given the £1.9m to improve Balham (with the group having appropriate skills), we would be able to make a real difference, having no ulterior agendas except to improve Balham). I would be up for this.

As always, the public sector is good at spending other peoples money and if things go wrong there tends to be little accountability and everyone walks away - it would be sad that in in 2 years time, we were saying the same about this project and many of the decision makers had moved on to other jobs. Kim - can you tell us why this project will not be like this and how the money will be monitored please ?

Balham needs to carve out a niche for itself and it has all the basics already with transports/restaurants/housing stock. As a number of people have noted, it is good shops/businesses that will improve Balham and high rents are a big barrier to entrepreneurship/risk taking - why don't we use this money to fund (or part fund) some limited shop/office space for new businesses to start up ?

My wife is a nutritionalist (and knows many other small business owners) and would welcome to have 2 afternoons a week in a 'Regis style / hot desk office' environment - this is where Hildreth street comes in and could become an entrepreneur hot spot. Where else in London is this done ? Success generally breeds success so it is all about getting the ball rolling ...

Does this make sense or should I put my ipad down now ?!

I would also like to see lots of free parking in balham (just for 20 mins) to allow people to come and park close to their chosen shops - again, that would really make Balham different and attract shops
Jon I
Hi Simon, you raise a lot of valid points. I would just differ with you on the car parking issue.

Time and time again research shows that most people who use local town centres live nearby, and walk or use public transport and then walk to get around. In Tooting research done only a couple of years ago showed over 80% of the shoppers walked, used public transport or cycled to the town centre.

We have very high volume of through motor traffic because of the A24. Most of those people just pass through every day, and free parking or no free parking would not attract them to the town centre.

I'm very keen for a Venn Street style make-over to happen on the north end of Bedford Hill, between Sistova Road and Balham High Road for example. Venn Street is just off Clapham High Street, and is a pedestrian environment from Friday to Sunday, and open to general traffic the rest of the week.

Unfortunately, as I understand it, the remit of this exercise can't be stretched to include a re-working of the street in this light. Although it does seem to have support from the local businesses.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the engagement with the wider local community and see what is suggested.
mungomuffit inactive
Kim still hasn't told us where to turn up this weekend! I'll do my best to find the "event" despite the vague description and report back (if I can find it and if anyone is still interested).
I think we scared her off! But in the original post it said it's at the 'Balham Community Space' - I think that's the puddle-ridden, badly-paved area at the back of Sainsburys.
Jean G
I live at Tooting Bec and the furthest I venture into Balham is to go to my doctor opposite  Ritherdon rd. Nothing to attract me
Simon L
Jon I - obviously you are right as most people will walk, but I think 20 mins of free parking would be beneficial for those that have to drive (kids/weather considerations), to give that option. From an environmental point of view, walking is the way forward.

Balham will never be an Oxford Street, but lets not try and make it one
mungomuffit inactive
Gosh, I'd never thought of that area as a "Community Space"! It's such a sad, grey and grotty little corner that I just pass through as fast as I can (and usually end up with wet feet because it's tricky navigating all the puddles).

I reckon that's another thing to add to the list!

Well, I shall definitely be turning up (in wellies this time) now that I know where to go to.

Simon, if you need to drive you get free 2 hours of parking in the Sainsbury's car park and you don't have to buy anything unlike most other ones.
And that's why those of us who want to buy something in Sainsburys can never get a feckin' parking space! Grrr... ;-)

@mungomuffit, we will be at Westfield - shopping, going to see 'Zero Dark Thirty' and having a late-Valentine dinner. Let us know how it goes.

Shepherds Bush is beginning to look rather attractive as a place to live, although I don't think they have yet cottoned on to the balloon/basket concept.

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