Putney on the way down? Not true retaliates the Town Centre Manager

"it's vibrant .....fun, ...with great shopping......"


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Local Labour party claim our shopping centre is in chronic decline due to Council policies

We are all familiar with how the housing market can be talked down by everyone predicting falling prices and a crash, even if everything is hunky-dory. Well, things seem a bit like that in Putney at the moment because of unbalanced reporting by people that should know better.

Some people would have us believe a doom and gloom scenario in Putney – which is not only wrong but damaging to both morale and business. Putney is doing well and has enjoyed a great deal of success of late, and I’d like to make sure people understand this rather than some misinformation that has been spread, which is both unhelpful and damaging to a town that is essentially healthy and loved by many.

Stephen Wallace - proud to be
Putney's Town Centre Manager

I know of one major store that has repeatedly been told it’s a shame it is leaving (it isn’t) and another retailer worried by stories from customers repeating views they have read in local publications, which they mistakenly believe present a balanced view.

So, what’s actually happening on the commercial front in Putney? Well, its pretty rosy. Its just attracted a new Woolworths (opens Dec. 9th at 10am), Laura Ashley (opened 2nd Dec.), Oliver Bonas, Sports World, Somerfields, Neuhaus and Zest.. Old stores have had major refurbishments and some companies have moved on. Whilst change inevitably involves disruption this is all a part of the natural development of the high street. Woolworths has invested in a comprehensive refit and replacement shopfront in the old Iceland store in the high street. No, BHS is not leaving Putney, it just wishes to invest in a better building with more revenue generating potential. Yes, we’ve just attracted a brand new Laura Ashley store in Castle Court, part of the prestigious Putney Wharf development. No, Benetton is not leaving, it is just undergoing a change of management. So overall, things are going pretty well thank you.

OK, so what about the environment and townscape? Again good news - we’ve just had approval of two important projects. One, worth about £85,000 creating new and wider pavements, raised paved roadway and landscaping by the library at the end of Disraeli Road /High Street. The other involves relocation of the War Memorial from the front of St Mary’s Church to nearby Church Square, blending old and new, in the same way as has been so successfully achieved at Putney Wharf. The successful bid for funds for the Disraeli Road project was the first of a two stage project and the second stage is refurbishment of the high street - we should hear in December whether our bid for funds has been successful.

So, Putney has a lot to offer; as we know it’ a vibrant town by the Thames. It’s a fun place to eat, drink and relax with a fantastic selection of pubs, bars and restaurants around the town – making it extremely popular with residents and visitors alike. Its great for shopping and very family friendly. It has a lively arts scene, even having its own arts theatre and school of art. We host the start of the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race with the accompanying Putney Music Festival in spring time (30th March to 2nd April 2006) and are consolidating this reputation for good live music with the ever present Half Moon pub and via the recent Jazz on the River fundraising event (for the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability) which we hope will become a regular event..

OK, Putney has its challenges; we have we have relatively narrow pavements, a busy main road that runs through the town centre and a bridge reputedly the busiest in London, but hey, we don’t need to develop suicidal tendencies as a result! We do what works; that is meet, discuss, plan and influence the changes that are possible to improve matters.

The Putney Partnership board was created to help improve Putney and many people (in many cases unpaid) work very hard to maintain and improve Putney, working in close cooperation with Wandsworth Council and others for the greater benefit of the community. Yes, there is more that can be done and it is being tackled at every meeting and in-between. Maybe there’s a lesson here for some of those that criticise and propose “new” schemes that already exist (and are consistently notable by their absence from meetings in my tenure of the last year or so) - you can only get results by getting involved. And to those authors intent on slamming Putney at every opportunity – please lighten up, be a little more constructive in your approach and if you truly want to help the town try balancing your reporting with some of the good news too.

October 19, 2005