The face of The Broadway is changing, but it is only a good thing according to business experts who have launched a competition to develop a vision for the town centre.

The former DVLA office in St George’s Road, Wimbledon, is being transformed into offices, Henry J Bean's has closed and several new restaurants are opening their doors soon.

Merton Council and Love Wimbledon Business Improvement District have launched an ideas competition to ignite debate about how Wimbledon town centre could evolve and prosper over the next 15 years.

The council and Love Wimbledon want to hear ideas from community groups, residents young and old, built environment specialists and businesses in the borough, about what Wimbledon town centre could look like, what amenities it should have and what type of buildings and public spaces could be developed in future.

Your Local Guardian:

The closure of Henry J Beans paves the way for plans for a 149 bedroom hotel, thought to be a Premier Inn, at the site on 153 to 161 The Broadway.

Merton Council initially denied applicants permission to convert the first three floors of the building and build eight new floors above the bar in April last year, but an appeal was granted in February this year so the work can go ahead, subject to approval of plans.

New Pakistani restaurant Khanage and boutique mother and baby shop JoJo Maman Bebe have opened recently, and Cousins Fish Shop and Restaurant and an Italian gelateria are among those to be coming to The Broadway in Wimbledon soon.

Your Local Guardian:

However there are several empty premises which are calling out for businesses to fill the spaces.

Diana Sterck, chief executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce said: "There is quite a lot of movement but it is very positive movement.

"There is a lot of refurbishment of offices and restaurants including Wagamama which I think is a good thing. "It’s about investment."

According to the council Wimbledon has over 600 businesses, with about 30,000 jobs, a figure that rises to 57,000 across the borough.

Shop vacancy rate is below 10 per cent according to council figures, and town centre footfall is increasing by 10 per cent per year.

For information on the town centre ideas competition visit the website