Published: 04/04/2023 By Allan Fuller
These include changes to the way public transport operates after dark and more liberal licensing arrangements to allow businesses to stay open later. However, the council is anxious to stress that the aim of the strategy is not to encourage more late-night drinking in the borough’s town centres.
The proposals for have been drawn up following an earlier consultation with residents and other stakeholders. The strategy will provide a platform for developing future projects and funding applications.
Changes to transport could include upgrades to bus stops and interchanges, better lighting and designated parking bays for delivery drivers. The strategy takes account of the fact that much of the borough is not served by the London Underground and needs special focus on night-time transport.
The council published the draft strategy outlining ways to improve the borough from 6pm to 6am to meet everyone’s needs after consulting with locals.
It recommends creating safer transport hubs and bus stops at night by working with Transport for London (TfL), Network Rail and other providers, along with considering allowing businesses to open later and adding public artwork, calming music and more seating at such hubs. Cycling sessions to encourage locals to cycle at night are also proposed as well as introducing more car club bays and creating designated parking spaces for delivery drivers waiting for jobs.
The strategy suggests installing free phone charging points in town centres, including at bus stops and interchanges, speaking to TfL and train companies about the cost of transport and the experiences of night-time workers and making sure links between bus stops, train and Tube stations are well-lit and easy to find. The recommendations also include working with TfL, the Met Police and other taxi providers to ensure the safety of people using taxis.
The document also proposes creating a lighting strategy to explore installing more lights across the borough. It comes after locals revealed they wanted improved lighting in town centres, better walking facilities with more signs and safer public transport in consultation with the council on the strategy.
The strategy reads, “Getting around Wandsworth at night in a safe, accessible and straightforward way is essential to creating an active and welcoming night-time experience for all."
“Though the reinstatement of the Night Tube has been welcomed by many, much of the borough is not served by the Underground and a special focus is needed on transport at night, where more issues can arise compared to the daytime.” The draft night-time strategy also has a number of proposals to improve nightlife in the borough.
It suggests promoting later opening hours for businesses, more night-time activities, encouraging spill-out spaces for cafés, restaurants and bars and requiring new drinking venues to undertake sexual harassment training when applying for a licence. It recommends working with businesses to provide evening childcare such as night nurseries, late-night supermarkets and special discounts for night workers, along with creating outdoor exhibitions, interactive artworks and murals.
The strategy also suggests developing an affordable or free events programme and piloting night markets when high street stores close. It includes recommendations for shops to provide desks or studio space for workers at night along with promoting the opening of facilities such as late-night repair shops, vegetable box pick-up spots and healthy takeaways.
The strategy reads, “A common misconception around the night-time strategy is that it aims to increase late-night opening hours to encourage more venues for drinking."
“Our vision is more holistic and inclusive, recognising the wide range of activities that constitute the night-time economy and seeking to create a more balanced night-time, that provides services that appeal to a diverse range of users – from community hubs for residents and young people, late-night supermarkets for night workers, to safer transport hubs for all.”
Labour councillor Kemi Akinola, deputy leader, said: “We want our businesses and town centres to thrive, but we also want everyone to feel safe and heard – including night workers, women, marginalised communities and disabled people and people living in more deprived parts of the borough.”
The strategy is out for consultation until 14 May and residents are encouraged to give their comments . When it is finalised, the council’s economic development office will create a night-time working group with the Met Police, TfL and licensing to begin conversations on how to take the recommendations forward, assign responsibilities and monitor progress.