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Plans unveiled for a £2million cultural quarter in Ilford

PUBLISHED: 15:18 23 February 2018

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council and CllrHelen Coomb, cabinet member for property, planning and regeneration launch the Ilford Manifesto (Credit: Andrew Baker)

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council and CllrHelen Coomb, cabinet member for property, planning and regeneration launch the Ilford Manifesto (Credit: Andrew Baker)

Andrew Baker

A new cultural quarter with artist studios, food markets and flexible workspace is being planned for Ilford.

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Paul Bennett. Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Paul Bennett.

In Redbridge Council proposals, buildings next to Kenneth More Theatre and the council car park could be used to create a vibrant hub.

Part of the grade II listed town hall would also be re-purposed in a venture named The Spark.

“The council’s regeneration strategy 2017-2027 places a priority on Ilford as the borough’s single biggest regenerations opportunity,” the plans state.

“A new cultural quarter is envisaged in the heart of Ilford town centre which will cluster civic, leisure, education and community uses and boost cultural activity during the day and evening.”

The proposals say due to the changing nature of retail the town centre needs to diversify to accommodate the needs of a growing residential community.

In order to make these proposals a reality, the council will need to increase the Ilford regeneration budget from £2million to £4.2m.

Leader of the council, councillor Jas Athwal said the local authority needs to operate like a business in today’s climate.

“What we are trying to do is make sure that the street scene is to the standard that we really want,” he told the Recorder.

“The extra £2million will not come from Council Tax, we are reinvesting money that has come in.

“We are trying to operate like a business – if we can reinvest it will generate more reinvestment.

“There has been more and more money invested into Ilford.”

Redbridge Conservative group leader, Councillor Paul Canal, described the plans for a new cultural quarter as “pie in the sky”.

“Adding another £2m to the pot may seem like small beer to Labour, but it is part of a massive £500m borrowing binge that residents will have to underwrite and pay back,” he said.

“That’s £5,000 for every household, Gordon Brown on steroids.

“We would welcome any sustainable plan that breathed life into this moribund area, but at present we have neither a credible plan nor realistic prospect of success.”

It has been recommended that the cabinet votes in favour of the project at a council meeting on March 6.

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