One of Walthamstow town centre’s only green spaces will be partly closed this summer as construction work on two tall tower blocks begins. Last January, Capital & Regional won permission to expand part of its shopping centre, now called 17&Central, into Walthamstow Town Square Gardens.
The company plans to redevelop the shopping centre, locally known as The Mall, and build 538 flats and a new entrance for Walthamstow Central Tube station. During construction, the popular green space and playground at the town square will be closed to the public.
Adrian Stannard, of campaign group Save Our Square, said the gardens are an important community space. He added: “Go down there now, I’d quite happily put money on it, there are people relaxing and enjoying themselves in the sun.
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(Image: Waltham Forest Council planning portal)
“Everything is so online nowadays that you have to be able to escape from it to get to the open air. It’s the perfect place for it in the town centre.
“The majority of space that you can collapse on and have a natter with your friends is going to go.”
The council’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration, Ahsan Khan said building work will begin “this summer” but was unable to provide a specific date. The Mall owner Capital & Regional has not responded to requests for comment on when the town square will be closed off for construction. Property investor and developer Long Harbour, described by Capital & Regional as the “residential partner” who will build the two towers, said it is “not in a position to comment at this point”.
Adrian, of Save Our Square, said he would expect a developer to be “blowing their trumpet” about when work starts once planning permission is approved. He added: “There’s going to be a lot of hoarding going up in that corner, when are they going to be going public about this and tell us what’s going on?
“In a normal building project they would put out a newsletter saying how it’s going, this is a complex project so there’s a lot to tell the public about. No one is going public on anything.”
The council has sold Capital & Regional a 250-year lease for the third of the square that will be taken up by the expanded shopping centre, 538 flats, and new station entrance. However, budget constraints have put a hold on building a new station entrance, now not set to start until 2025.
The council estimates a new entrance, which will improve capacity and add step-free-access, will cost £25m. In an unsuccessful bid for £19.9m towards the entrance from the government’s Levelling Up fund last year, the council said it had raised £5.3m in contributions “from the development”.
Cllr Khan said: “Construction on the project begins this summer and during this first phase a suitable space for the station box will be identified and kept free to allow for its construction from 2025.
“The latest TfL data shows that Walthamstow Central has been the third-busiest station in London outside zones 1 and 2 for the last two years running – we are proud that people want to live, work, study, and shop in our borough.”
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of this upgrade to local residents and continue to work closely with Waltham Forest Council and Capital & Regional to help progress this scheme – but funding remains a significant challenge.
“We are working with the council and local developers to try to protect and enable delivery of the station entrance in the future whilst we explore opportunities for the funding required to fully implement the scheme.”