Leading lights of Barkingside business group forced to quit the area over trading pressures

Two lots near to Eaton Hair are currently vacant

Two lots near to Eaton Hair are currently vacant - Credit: Archant

The leading lights of a business group aiming to give Barkingside’s retail economy a kick-start are having to quit the area because of trading pressures.

Sharon Roberts, an assistant buyer at Toyology, outside the store which will close this month

Sharon Roberts, an assistant buyer at Toyology, outside the store which will close this month - Credit: Archant

Gary Diamond, vice-chairman of the Barkingside Traders’ Association, announced on Saturday that his toy shop Toyology will close on March 23 after less than three years’ of business.

And despite £2.1million regeneration works due to start at the top end of the High Street next month, Steve Eaton, the association’s chairman and owner of Eaton Hair, is moving his business to Buckhurst Hill because of falling footfall.

Mr Eaton, who runs the hairdressers in State Parade, off High Street, said: “The regeneration could be a little bit too late, we needed it a year ago.”

He intends to run his business until its lease expires in August 2014.

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He said three out of seven shops in State Parade are vacant and estimated about 15 shops are available to rent in High Street.

He added: “We don’t bring the people into Barkingside.”

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The Better Barkingside project, which has a £1.9m grant from the Greater London Authority, will deliver a new town square around Fullwell Cross Leisure Centre and has promised a shopfront improvement scheme to traders.

But Mr Eaton said: “[The council] promised the shops a certain amount of money would go into shop fronts, but they haven’t discussed it with them.”

And John Sharrock, chairman of community group Barkingside 21, said people cannot find parking spaces at the northern end of the High Street despite the Craven Gardens car park near Fullwell Cross roundabout being under-used.

Council leader and Barkingside ward Cllr Keith Prince said: “We’re looking at some parking places off the High Street.

“Barkingside was one of the first areas we introduced the 15 minutes for 30p offer.

“[Craven Gardens] could have some kind of offer at low costs for four or eight hours. If you can encourage people to park, you can increase the footfall.”

Redbridge Council was unable to comment before the Recorder’s deadline.

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