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Redbridge Council applies for funding to turn Ilford into a shopping 'mecca'

PUBLISHED: 13:51 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 27 March 2019

Do you think the plans will help tackle toxic air? Photo: Ken Mears

Do you think the plans will help tackle toxic air? Photo: Ken Mears

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To combat Ilford town centre getting “eroded” by changing habits and competition from Stratford and Romford, Redbridge Council is applying for a grant to turn it back into a shopping “mecca”.

The Future High Streets Fund, launched in December 2018, aims to support high streets and town centres throughout England and has £675million to give away.

The council’s expression of interest is focussed on Ilford town centre and it submitted a bid on Friday, March 22.

A Redbridge Council spokesman said: “Once east London’s town centre, providing a mecca for shopping for neighbouring boroughs and Essex, Ilford is now seeing its regional appeal eroded through changing shopping habits, the impact exacerbated by stronger retail attraction in Stratford and Romford.

“Furthermore, the anticipated arrival of Crossrail and the rapid growth of Redbridge’s population represent new opportunities for Ilford to redefine its role as a modern metropolitan town centre.”

Council leader, Councillor Jas Athwal, said additional resources from the Future High Streets Fund would represent another important step towards “realising our ambitious vision for Ilford” and transforming the town centre into a liveable and vibrant place.

“Along with our partners and local groups, we will continue to work with a strategic approach and make Ilford great again for our communities,” he added.

If successful with the first stage of the application, shortlisted places will be supported to develop specific project plans and associated business cases.

Campaign group, Barkingside 21, however feels that too much focus is always put on Ilford and there are other high streets in the borough.

“It really cool and great for Ilford but if they are going to put a bid in why not include surrounding areas such as Gants Hill and Barkingside,” said Steve Duggan of Barkingside 21.

“Any money to help the high street should be split proportionally between all of them in the borough based on communities.”

Mr Duggan also said, like the companies at Hainault Business Park, more official support is needed for shops in Barkingside.

“We have the Ken Aston Square but has turned into a white elephant as no one is managing it - it is very frustrating, we need more support from the council.

“As a kid Barkingside was a destination, know it is somewhere you drive through on your way to South Woodford.”

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