Worcester Park & Raynes Park

March 18, 2011

Stepping of the train at Worcester Park Patrick and I didn’t have the usual printed paper map that we bring with us on these trips.  As such we resorted to using Google maps using an application on the I phone.  It struck me that such technologies may be making unfamiliar places navigable in new ways.  I, being a little less tech savvy ventured from the shelter of the train station entrance into the rain to the local map that graced the bus stand.  I like these maps, it immediately gives you a sense of your local area, something that was missing from the bus stands of Australia where I used to live, however the scale and detail of the map was insufficient, and so the I phone wins.   Using this technology we were able to see the street layout, a satellite image of the area as well as access information from the preceding UCL project ‘Sustainable Suburban Town Centres’­­­;-

From this information we could see the dominance of the A2043, or the Malden Rd in the location of most retail activity.  This was predominantly to our left as we exited the train station, or southeast if I’m being geographical.  What was evident was the degree to which the retail lined this major road, while narrow it was almost too busy with traffic to cross anywhere but the designated crossing points.  I don’t usually hang out for those being as I am a man of walking and of little victories I felt as if the road was pushing me into a submission to its authority.  The A2043 is the major road in the area, a linear link between areas further south and more central areas of London.  Historically I conjecture that this has led to the current assemblage of shops and activities on this street.  What was further noticeable was the change in street character at either end of the linear street.

 

 Whilst the main part of the high street looked as a familiar high street does, with shops and businesses taking up the use of older buildings ground level spaces and some offices noticeable above, such activity seemed to end at two physical points.  The first was at the more northern and lower end of the road by the rail bridge.  Emerging from the station we knew immediately where to turn to find the ‘high street’ as colourful shop fronts peeked out at us from under the eye line from the rail bridge which acted as a point where the shops had been told to stop.

Upon reaching the beginning of the high street we were able to see straight up the road, its incline providing a nice visual display for us to locate ourselves, “ah this is the high street” I said.  The shops and commercial activity continued until we reached a small ‘shimmy’ or bend in the road at which saw the line of sight become shorter and the commercial activity drop off again quite abruptly, this was the second physical point.   It appeared that the spatial signature of Worcester Park had evolved and concretised around this section of the busiest road in the area the A2043, further to this it also happens at a point where the A2043 is furthest from both the A3 and A24, the two major roads it joins.

 

 

Raynes Park

Exiting the train station at Raynes Park was a different experience all together, rather than carry on almost instinctively, as we had done at Worcester Park we both stopped at the bottom of the ramp of the station exit and looked both ways through the underpass that we were know in.  Which side of the tracks do we take?

I insisted that we take the right side (or south) as this had a familiarity to it for me, as this is the path I take to reach my uncles house, this sort of knowledge developed from association, from memory, from familiarity and, despite the continued use of the I phone, made the decision for us of which side to take first (I win).  The Kingston road had the most obviously linear sign of retail activity and was made up of many different kinds of shops, hair dressers, newsagents and many take away restaurants.

Looking at an aerial map the road seemed as though it acts as link to the more globally integrated A298 and upper end of Kingston rd. as it turns away from Raynes park, loosing retail activity as it joins more integrated network.  It is as if the area is split in two by the presence of the rail line, the A238 (Kingston Rd) passes under the rail line, as does a rather dark but short pedestrian underpass, where it carries on west but in a more northerly direction than the road it leaves behind on the south side of the tracks.  This side of the tracks had a concentration of retail activity, on foot it seemed to locate parallel to the rail tracks but the streets turning away also had a healthy smattering of activity.   The information provided by the SSTC profiler shows the distributed nature of retail

 

around Raynes park, especially on the northern side of the tracks.  The road network here is seemingly more complex as it links in different directions and makes a convergence of different routes occur here.


Road and pedestrian through routes under rail tracks

 

 

 

Further the side streets seem to be less well linked as through routes possibly leading to a high demand for local provisions that the evident retail may provide.  The spatial signature of Raynes Park is vastly different from that of Worcester park, the ‘high street’ seems to be split to either side of the track where passing road connections link in different directions.  The local street network appears to allow a strong local demand for commercial activity and, whilst not linear the ‘centre’ of the activity, the assemblage that can be called Raynes Park seems to be easy to sense, located as it is around the train station.  It seems it is these very tracks and the nature of road configurations however that also contribute to the slightly scattered pattern of the activity in the ‘suburb’.  Worcester Park however seemed to have a much stronger linear form that seemed consistent with the nature of the linkages with the local to global road network and as such gave a much stronger sense of the ‘high street’.

I invite comments on the sense people may have when in these areas, scattered, strong, local, global, visually is a linear high street more comfortable or does a more assembled ‘huddle’ like area like Raynes park feel more of a distinct place?

Readings

Griffiths, S., Jones, C. E., Vaughan, L. and Haklay, M. (2009) ‘A morphological approach to the historical persistence of socio-economic activity in three suburbs of Greater London’, Proceedings of the International Seminar on Urban Form, Guangzhou, September 4th-7th 2009.

Vaughan, L., Jones, C.E., Griffiths, S. and Haklay, M. (2010) “The spatial signature of suburban town centres”. The Journal of Space Syntax 1 (1): 77-91

Vaughan, L., Griffiths, S., Haklay, M. and Jones, C. E. (2009) ‘Do the suburbs exist? Discovering Specificity and Complexity in Suburban Form’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Vaughan, L., Jones, C.E., Griffiths, S. and Haklay, M. (2009) “The Spatial Signature of Suburban ‘Active’ Centres”. Proceedings of the Seventh International Space Syntax Symposium. KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm.

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3 Responses to “Worcester Park & Raynes Park”

  1. suburbanite Says:

    Latest news (The Times Friday 22 April, Bricks and Mortar supplment) on Raynes Park is that a Waitrose is opening on the site of a former Thames Water depot. The article describes it as being part of a “mixed-use development of 88 apartments (51 private and 37 affordable units taken by the Notting Hill Trust)”. Methinks the journalist has got her ‘mixed use’ and ‘mixed tenure’ confused. NLA article confirms this: http://www.newlondonarchitecture.org/project.php?id=726&name=raynes_park_former_thames_water_depot. The only non-residential use is the supermarket. However, the inclusion of a piazza in the scheme to “form a focal point for the high street” is worth watching (and mapping – it’s at the junction of Coombe Lane and West Barnes Lane). Apparently the average selling price for a home in the area has gone up 26% in the past year, which explains why Waitrose is interested in this investment. But why has the area become so sought after?


  2. besides being a very nice place to live- with all its shops library- new supermarket many parks, open spaces and railway with fast access to london (25 minutes) and excelent buses, new coffee shops restaurents and the other way trains to hampton court and towards the west country- all from the local station!


  3. Thanks for your comment. You may be interested in our open access book that’s out soon with UCL Press: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/suburban-urbanities


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