Liberal Democrats in Waltham Forest are seeking reassurances from the council regarding progress on the long awaited Walthamstow Arcade site development.
Walthamstow councillor John Macklin, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Waltham Forest Council, stressed that the Arcade development “must fit in with the local area”.
He is also urging local traders to get involved in ensuring that the development will “compliment and not damage existing Town Centre businesses” whilst acknowledging residents concerns over the residential building that will form a centrepiece of the development.
Cllr Macklin said:
“Whilst I accept the need for the development to be high density, this doesn’t mean that it has to be exclusively achieved through height. I have been meeting with campaigners to make it clear that the Liberal Democrats want a landmark building that will be a source of pride for residents and a focal point for a properly regenerated town centre.
“We also echo the views of the many people, in particular our younger residents, who are desperate to see a cinema return to the borough.
“However, I am acutely aware that regeneration projects, if not handled properly, can be detrimental to existing businesses.
“Regeneration is not just about big new buildings. It should also be about enabling local people and businesses.”
“I absolutely do not want to see any new facilities simply competing for existing trade with our current shops and market traders. They must compliment each other if the development is to be a success.
Cllr Macklin is encouraging local businesses and traders to get involved in making sure that the Town Centre is compatible with the new facilities that will arrive as part of the development.
“We want to see local traders and businesses taking the lead in ensuring that a regenerated town centre is mutually beneficial to both new and existing businesses.
“We need imaginative ideas from business leaders to ensure that the market, as part of a modern Walthamstow Town Centre, can provide an attractive product that shoppers will want to use.
“This could be achieved, for example, through the establishment of a Business Improvement District or a more prominent role for the Market Traders Association.
“The Liberal Democrats will strongly support any such involvement from local businesses and make sure that their voice is heard in Council. The best way to ensure that local people are satisfied with the outcome of the regeneration project is to involve them every step of the way in the decision making process and communicate progress on the site to residents more effectively.”
Fellow Liberal Democrat councillors for High Street Ward, James O’Rourke and Johar Khan, added to Cllr Macklin’s calls by claiming that, as part of the regeneration project, the council needed to have deliverable plans to bring the EMD building back into use in a way that complimented the development and provided “a worthwhile community facility for residents that will bring them back to the High Street”.
“We want to see the council work with interested parties to bring the EMD into use as soon as the Arcade development has been accepted by the Mayor of London.”
The Lib Dems efforts in encouraging greater community involvement in decision-making is the latest part of plans to increase resident participation in the running of local facilities. Earlier this year the party called for Local Management Boards of service users to take over the running of local cultural facilities.