By Diana Sterck Today (9th December 2014) we organised  a meeting of  businesses  in Colliers Wood – in partnership with Merton Council; thanks to Corleone for hosting the meeting, a wonderful example of an independent restaurant (Small Business Saturday was only 2 days ago!).

What a great meeting it was – the knowledge and enthusiasm of the 30 or so independent businesses that attended is inspiring and a great example of how to link local businesses, who are often local residents too, to their local community. A particular vote of thanks to Kevin Godding from Coffee in the Wood, whose commitment to his community is exceptional.

Sara Williams from the Future Merton team at the Council updated us on the huge investment that is coming into the area over the months ahead.  Singlegate School, currently undergoing an extension; the “ Brown and Root” Tower with Section 106 monies due to be paid to the Council, usually pre-empting the start of building works (can we wait any longer!); a complete rebuild of the library site; and works starting on 5th January on the Connecting Colliers Wood infrastructure. Coupled with all of this, the Council are supporting the intensification of Colliers Wood (ie lots of residential development to come, the Northern Line going 24/7) through doing some analysis of the current and future Colliers Wood resident and user (Mosaic profiling), a review of signage and upgrades; dressing empty shop units to make the place look better; a competitor analysis of how we shop on line versus using the High St and an opportunity for small retailers to have a grant to upgrade their shop fronts.

So what did the meeting conclude? The overall consensus was that businesses should work together to be a part of this massive investment, to put forward their views and to benefit from the opportunities that will be there over the years ahead.  What should we do and how can this be achieved?

We agreed 5 key actions:

  • Need to build knowledge of who we are, what we do and what can we do to help Colliers Wood. This could be achieved through some kind of “speed networking” event.
  • Need constant updates from the Council on all the schemes they are managing in the area. This could be achieved through meetings, Twitter feeds and a Linked In group under the Connecting Colliers Wood banner.
  • Need to garner the massive knowledge held by local business people to pull information and views together. This could be achieved through a brainstorming activity.
  • Need to influence the Master Plan that will be put together by the Council in late 2015. This could be achieved through the setting up of a local Committee drawn from the business network.
  • Need a marketing strategy for the locality that raises awareness of the local shops, restaurants and businesses. This could be achieved if the proposal to the Mayor of London put forward by the Chamber of Commerce and the Council is accepted.

So all in all, these are all achievable. As the Chamber of Commerce we will help by developing the Colliers Wood network of businesses, setting up the Linked In group and organising speednetworking and brainstorming in the New Year. The Council have committed to providing regular updates on the website and through Twitter. As we move into 2015 let’s be confident and proactive and work together to Connect Colliers Wood in many different ways.

www.merton.gov.uk/collierswood/connectingcollierswood

www.mertonchamber.co.uk/collierswood

 

Diana Sterck

Merton Chamber of Commerce

In association with the London Borough of Merton

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