The broad purpose of this study is to investigate Kingston’s Sphere of influence and affecting factors. To do this I shall gather information about Kingston from the Internet, books and Kingston Information Bureau. I have devised a questionnaire and plan to ask people in the town to answer the questions.
The Sphere of Influence is the area from which a shop draws its custom, also known as the market area or trade area.
The Sphere of Influence is dependent on several factors:
The position Kingston comes in the settlement Hierarchy is important.
There are 8 categories of settlements ranging from “isolated buildings or farms” to the Capital City. Kingston is categorised as a large town, which is in the middle of the hierarchy. The 1991 census shows Kingston as having a population of 133,000. The results of the 2001 census are not yet available. There have however been several new houses built on former industrial sites in the area such as the British Aerospace factory, the old power station, Dickerage Road and even on school playing fields off the Kingston Road.
This recent expansion in housing leads me to anticipate that the population will have increased since the census 10 years ago. The population size of a settlement also effects the number, type and variety of services it will offer. These factors will all affect the sphere of influence.
* Education, Sports and Leisure
Many people move to Kingston (migration) to take advantage of the prestigious education, both primary and secondary feature high on the league tables.
Kingston is centrally located between Bushy Park and Richmond Park. These parks are an important amenity for walkers, horse riding, cycling. The wild life in the parks adds to the feeling of being in the country. The towpath along the Thames is well used by the local community and provides further access to the bustling town centre.
There are several indoor and outdoor leisure facilities. The Kingsmeadow stadium is close to the town. The Kingfisher Leisure Complex is centrally located within the town meaning people can combine leisure and shopping, this would make a longer journey more worthwhile which might lead to an increase in the size of Kingston’s Sphere of Influence.
The town and surrounding area is full of historical interest. Saxon Kings were crowned here. Hampton Court Palace, Ham House and even Wimbledon Tennis Championship all bring an influx of tourists from all around the world! This is probably the single most effective factor in enlarging the range.(i.e. from abroad) This range will be affected differently at different times of the year. Say a questionnaire was used to determine the sphere of influence of Kingston, in July, the results might show a far larger range than if used in March. I’d predict that throughout the year the sphere of influence would fluctuate. In December and January I’d expect a lot of people to travel further to Kingston for pre and after Christmas shopping. In June for the Wimbledon Tennis Championship, in July for the Hampton Court Flower Show and for the rest of the year I’d expect the sphere of influence to be fairly set with highs during bank holiday weekends and school vacations.
* Availability of goods or services:
Low order goods are low in value and used frequently and are known as convenience items e.g. milk/newspapers/ bread. High order goods are high value and bought infrequently and are known as comparison goods e.g. Electronics/furniture/ cars/. People are usually prepared to travel further for high order goods. The distance travelled is known as the range.
Kingston offers high order goods at several quality stores such as Bentalls, John Lewis, and Alders. Most of the high street chain stores are represented in Kinston plus there are supermarkets and convenience stores in the downtown area. Kingston was originally a market town and still remains as one. The permanent market is located in the town square and the weekly Monday market at the Fairfield sells traditional English budget wares. This combination of high and low order goods means people can get everything they want in one place so therefore positively affecting the sphere of Influence.
The Kingston area is well connected for travel by rail with Southwest Trains providing regular access to Central London and surrounding towns. All London trains stop at Wimbledon. Kingston is 20 minutes from Waterloo with trains every 15 minutes. The line to nearby Surbiton are more frequent with trains every 6-7 minutes. The nearest Tube stations are Richmond and Wimbledon.
The bus routes from Heathrow, Wimbledon ,Ealing via Richmond are well served as are links by bus to further afield e.g. Guildford, Reigate and Dorking. This access to Kingston by public transport again has a positive effect on the sphere of Influence. Smaller towns typically aren’t as accessible so people will travel further to Kingston as it might take the same time on less frequent transport services.
The road network is extensive. The A3 is the main route from London. There are various options to get to Kingston from the M25. However road travel is rather unpredictable and at times very congested. One of the drawbacks of bordering the Thames River is that the one and only bridge in Kinston has a bottleneck effect on traffic. June2001 was the completion of the bridge-widening scheme. This has meant that access to the town has increased marginally by having two lanes in each direction. The car parking indicator sign on the Richmond road often indicates that all the car parks are full. This would indicate that Kingston is a popular shopping destination.
A large percentage of work in Kingston revolves around the retail stores in the town centre. There is also some light industry in the area, take for example the Nikon factory. Schools, the hospital, the council are all large employment opportunities. Many employees will travel from out of borough to get to work, thus affecting the sphere of influence also.
From having lived in Kingston for 15 years I predict that the Sphere of Influence for Kingston will prove to be large. I know of several people travelling to Kingston, taking more than an hour for their journey each way, purely because the facilities and shops exceed those closer to home both in quality and quantity.