Colliers Wood: An up and coming area of arts and transformation

Colliers Wood: An up and coming area of arts and transformationColliers Wood is an up and coming area in South-West London that is currently undergoing a period of transformation.

It used to be a very drab area, with concrete blocks and nothing particularly special. However, over the last few years, it has really become a go-to destination, popular among families and professionals.

Today, Colliers Wood is famous for several reasons. It is the birthplace of some of London's most exciting festivals and entertainment venues, and has a rich cultural heritage. It is also home to one of the largest shopping complexes in Europe, the Savacentre. In addition, there is the nearby heritage centre at the Merton Abbey Mills which is popular with tourists and visitors alike.

Entertainment

Merton Abbey Mills is a former textile factory which is situated near the medieval site of Merton Priory. A number of businesses now occupy the space, including retailers.

It tends to attract a lot of tourists to the area as well, partly because of the crafts market that is located there. Merton Abbey Mills also plays host to a summer theatre and music festival called Abbeyfest.

The festival has been running for two years now and lasts for around two months. It includes a series of free jazz festivals, as well as late night comedy.

In addition, there is a free open air symphony orchestra concert, as well as Kidfest - a children's festival held in August.

It is one of South-West London's premier arts festivals and runs during July and August. The festival is a highly popular community event among both residents and tourists and combines music, theatre and comedy. Every year, over 20,000 people flock to Colliers Wood to participate in the event.

The festival creates the opportunity for many new, aspiring and established actors, performers, musicians, writers and directors to have a platform to showcase their work.

Redevelopment

However, one sticking point of the area is the tower. Colliers Wood Tower has been the bane of many residents living in the area.

It is a large concrete block that has been at the centre of much controversy over the years and at one point had to have safety nets installed to prevent debris falling to the ground below.

In fact, the tower first ran into problems from its inception. It got off to a bad start when the first attempt at construction was found to contain serious errors, so the three storeys that had already been built were demolished and the project started again from scratch.

In a 2006 BBC poll it was crowned the ugliest building in the UK and it also made the top 12 in Channel 4's UK-wide Demolition programme in 2005.

Many of the windows have been boarded up, while the adjacent spiral car park was finally demolished in June 2011.

However, all of that is set to change and will soon be a thing of the past, after Merton Council announced that the former Brown & Root Tower will undergo redevelopment.

The council has been working alongside the tower's owners Criterion Capital to formalise regeneration plans, which will see the building converted and also extended, to be more in keeping with the local area.

These plans are set to include an extension to the north - towards Colliers Wood underground station - to provide 150 apartments, with shops on the ground floor.

There will also be an extension to the south - to be built as part of a second phase - providing another 68 apartments.

The first phase of the scheme got underway in 2012, and is expected to be completed by 2015.

But that is not the only area of Merton to be redeveloped. The council has previously received around £4.45 million to improve the borough after the riots, and around £3.7 million went towards plans to create a new town centre for Colliers Wood and Merton High Street.

Some of the money was used to create lanes and footpaths and improve access from High Path and Merton High Street to Abbey Mills and South Wimbledon.

In previous years, Colliers Wood has been cleared of unnecessary street signs and had quality paving and street furniture installed.

Plans were also drawn up for a new town square and around the same time, improvements to the tower were being made.

All of these developments have helped to completely change the face of Colliers Wood and make it a top destination among Londoners.

Published 16th January, 2014

© 2014 Estates IT Limited

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A lot of improvements are currently taking place in Colliers Wood.

Colliers Wood: An up and coming area of arts and transformation

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