Pioneer Point 10 years on: Decade after plans finalised, have Ilford towers lived up to promise?

Work starts on Pioneer Point in May 2008

Work starts on Pioneer Point in May 2008 - Credit: Archant

Ambitious plans for the redevelopment of the Pioneer Market site in Ilford were first finalised and approved 10 years ago, but now a decade on, are those involved happy with what has been achieved?

Pioneer Point taking shape in August 2009

Pioneer Point taking shape in August 2009 - Credit: Archant

Pioneer Point, which stands 35-storeys high in Winston Way, was first agreed in 2003, after councillors spent two hours discussing the application that would replace the dilapidated market.

Adding the finishing touches

Adding the finishing touches - Credit: Archant

At 390ft high, the impressive structure was set to be almost three feet taller than Centrepoint and half the height of Canary Wharf.

The Pioneer Point towers

The Pioneer Point towers - Credit: Archant

The developer, Empire Property Group, planned for one large non-food retail outlet, a speciality market on the first floor and an NHS medical centre above that.

Hamid Khimani and his wife Saimi in their apartment with stunning views over Ilford

Hamid Khimani and his wife Saimi in their apartment with stunning views over Ilford - Credit: Archant

It was also agreed that they would give the council more than £3million to fund affordable housing for families elsewhere.

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A spokesman for Redbridge Council, speaking about the application in 2009, said: “When completed Pioneer Point will represent a new high-quality landmark in the oldest part of Ilford, providing much-needed new housing, including serviced apartments within a dynamic and attractive piece of architecture.

“The development will also be good news for local businesses and shoppers, as it will offer a range of commercial and cultural spaces that will help breathe new life into this part of town, especially important during the economic slow down.”

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The tallest of the two towers welcomed its first residents in February this year and Go Native, the company which runs the development, said two-thirds of all apartments were occupied which was a great “success”.

The tall glass building stands on the former site of the historic Pioneer Market and includes more than 200 apartments ranging in size from one to three bedrooms.

Cabinet member for regeneration at the time, Cllr Lee Scott, speaking to the Recorder this week, said: “When the plans were first revealed there was definitely mixed feelings, especially in regards the building’s size and whether it could be fully utilised. It looked very futuristic and modern.

“Obviously retail space was important, but at the time we had to look at easing housing problems. All redevelopment has got to be considered a good thing. If the take up of apartments is as high as is claimed, it has been a success.”

The Recorder approached the owners to find out what the second, smaller building was going to be used for but they failed to respond in time.

Cllr Filly Maravala said: “If the market had been refurbished, as it was past its sell by date, we would have had a strong selling community combined with The Exchange.”

A council spokesman added that the £3.78million from the developers to fund affordable housing, is not due until “75 per cent of the units available on the open market have been filled”.

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