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You are in: London > London Local > Waltham Forest > Work and Money > Millions spent on derelict site

The Arcade site in Walthamstow

The Arcade site in central Walthamstow

Millions spent on derelict site

After five years of consultation and millions of pounds spent, a central site in Walthamstow is now up for sale on the open market.

What residents want

(In order of preference)

  1. EMD cinema to be restored and included in development of Arcade site.  
  2. Some green/public space
  3. Performance/display space for the arts, theatre
  4. Community meeting space
  5. Small shops, cafés, bars and restaurants not large chain stores

Results collated from Resident's meeting November 2006

The Arcade site by Cleveland Park Avenue has been the subject of hot debate for years, and residents are now furious at the council’s most recent decision to sell the land.

Between three and four million has been spent on the site up until now. Cllr. Terry V. Wheeler, Cabinet Member for Enterprise & Investment said the money went on security, maintenance and Compulsory Purchase orders that had to be settled.

 He said: -
"We expect to recover all those costs when we sell the site."

In a public meeting organised by Waltham Forest Civic Society and the Cleveland Park Residents’ Association, an overwhelming majority wanted the council to retain ownership of the site and listen to their recommendations for its use.

Most of all they want the council to include and restore the neighbouring Art Deco cinema its plans.

Simon Munk of the Cleveland Residents Association said: “We don’t have a working cinema in the borough…it’s shocking particularly as this is the birth place of Alfred Hitchcock and in  the 1920s was pretty much the Hollywood of England!”

EMD Cinema

Grade II listed EMD Art Deco Cinema

Residents like George Arkless whose house backs onto the site fears the shortage of housing in the area will invite developers of high rise flats. 

He said: “With the height of the buildings we suspect will go onto this site
we will see any thing but blue skies - we won’t see any sky at all…”

The council has said developers will need to submit schemes that include residential, retail and leisure use. Earlier conditions of having a multiplex cinema on the site have been scrapped.

To watch a full interview with Cllr. Terry Wheeler and hear some residents comments click on the video features above.

Your Views

Alan Smith – Cleveland Park Resident

I feel very strongly that the last three Waltham Forest councils - who we pay council tax to are totally and singularly to blame for returning the site to a condition resembling the bomb site that it was from the war until it was re-developed in the sixties.

Whilst it was not very pleasant before the demolition, it did at least house several small businesses that were very much a part of local life. I recall a small independent electrical shop, a clothes outlet, a small traditional cafe, a shoe repairers and key cutters, a Caribbean cafe and take away, a barber shop, a small pub/bar, a newsagent, a luggage and bag shop, a tanning "shop", the Post Office and a Kentucky Fried Chicken, not to mention a large empty unit that used to house a supermarket but has been vacant during the last twenty years that I have been in Walthamstow. All the small independant services and shopkeepers lost their livelihoods to CPO's.

The large shop unit being empty for so long shows the stupidity of building large retail spaces on this site.

The successive councils have allegedly spent some £5 million on "developing" this site so far, and now are seeking to recoup "their" (actually OUR) losses be selling to the highest bidder.

I believe that the current council have a moral obligation to use the site for something that will benefit the local community - after all, WE have paid for it. There should also be in depth and meaningful consultation with the residents of the wider area before anything is decided. I would also like to see a Public Enquiry into how so much could be spent on so little.

Carolyn Clancy - Cleveland Park Resident

I think people only want a cinema if the council are prepared to re-open and re-furbish the beautiful art deco EMD cinema From both a conservation point of view and a practical point of view all residents would like this re-opened/ What I personally DON'T want and I think many agree is the proposed ten screen brand new cinema. It seems senseless to build a new cinema when there is one already there that just needs a bit of loving care and refurbishment.

I would also have issues over the height and parking issues that would surround a new cinema, and I think most residents are in agreement that we don't want more tall imposing buildings in our town centre, both from an aesthetic point of view but also from a practical and conversation point of view.

I would like to see the old EMD cinema re-opened and/or something that benefits the local community, be it a Spitalfields market using local designers and traders or a farmers market, or a health club and sport centre, (but partly subsidised by the council so it could benefit local young people).

There are many things I'd like to see there but I feel extremely angry that having left that derelict for over three years the council intend on selling this without any consultation with the local community. That land is owned by the local community so in my mind the very least they should be doing is asking for and respecting our opinions. I feel strongly that the council should adhere to the following or they are not serving us as local councilors

If you want to have your say email:  ramaa.sharma@bbc.co.uk

last updated: 28/12/2007 at 15:35
created: 27/11/2006

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