Theatre performances and wi-fi could be part of new-look Barkingside High Street

Ideas to modernise Barkingside High Street and make it a gateway for business, entertainment and leisure where debated at a public meeting last night.

Architects and design consultants have spent the last few weeks mapping out plans for the Better Barkingside project – which will see the area around Fullwell Cross Library and swimming pool regenerated.

The Mayor of London and Redbridge Council have put �2.1million on the table, with �1.65m of that to be directly spent on the physical changes to the area.

At a meeting in the library last night, project architect David Knight of firm DK-CM, gave a flavour of some of the changes which may be made, and what Barkingside High Street could look like by early 2014.

He revealed there are five key areas of the project:

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• The area around the library and making it more “beautiful”.

• A town square in the area between the library and the leisure centre.

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• “Opening up” the corner of Virginia Gardens/High Street.

• Improving some of the shop fronts in High Street.

• The “connectivity” of the area – linking High Street with surrounding facilities like Fairlop Waters.

Mr Knight told the about 100 residents who had gathered for the meeting that there were “threats” to the project, including what workers may find under the ground once they start digging.

Many of those who attended gave their own views on the plans as part of the consultation element of the meeting.

Janet Robson, 70, who has been a resident of Barkingside since 1967, said: “A stage in the town square where short theatre performances could take place would be great. It could be an outlet for young talent.”

Gary Diamond, who owns Toyology in High Street, said: “When the money is spent, we must ensure the back [of High Street] is as clean as the front, I think that’s very important.”

Other suggestions included installing wi-fi along High Street and getting views from schoolchildren in the area of what changes they would like to see made.

Some also said King Solomon High School students should be commissioned to create artwork which could take pride of place in the new town square.

• What changes would you like to see made to Barkingside High Street? Tweet us @ilfordrecorder, email or call 020 8477 3806.

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