Market stalls not education centre for Seven Kings land, urge businesses

The chairman of the Seven Kings Business Partnership remains hopeful a former lorry park will house regular markets rather than a pupil referral unit.

Redbridge Council was set to permanently house the John Barker Centre, a key stage 3 unit for pupils excluded from mainstream schools, at the former Seven Kings Lorry Park in High Road.

It has been temporarily based there since 2011 and the cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Alan Weinberg, signed off on the plans.

But councillors Bob Littlewood, of Seven Kings ward, and Elaine Norman, of Newbury ward, exercised their right to have the proposals voted on at the next full council meeting in July.

It gives hope to the area’s business partnership, which wants to put on markets there every two months to increase footfall in Seven Kings.

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Satdev Kumar, the partnership’s chairman and part owner of Hansons Estates in Cameron Road, Seven Kings, said: “We’re in a recession and if you can do anything to help, it’s a positive thing. If they go ahead with the [pupil referral unit] plans, what we’re trying to achieve wouldn’t be possible.

“I don’t think we’d get planning permission and it would quite possibly be a health and safety issue.”

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The lorry park and a car park next to it taken in combination were identified as an opportunity site for development as part of a council review last year.

And a council report acknowledged: “Given the physical constraints of the site, the redevelopment potential of the car park without the lorry park is significantly reduced.”

Mr Kumar said he hoped councillors take the market proposals on board. The council report said there had been a “thorough search” for other available sites for the unit without success.

The unit teaches children aged 11 to 14.

The partnership’s chairman would also like to see periods of free parking in the car park, which is “hardly being used”, to boost trade.

A council spokesman said the cost of parking for three hours or more at the car park has reduced from £5 to £3.20 in a trial and there is free parking 5.30pm-7.30am Monday to Friday and at weekends.

He said there are no other plans to introduce free parking in the borough.

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