Monday, December 03, 2012

Better Barkingside – Update Report

Last week on Thursday evening a throng of Barkingsiders gathered in the Aldborough Room in Fullwell Cross Library, expectorant (cough!) with aniticipation to see the latest plans and proposals for a Better Barkingside. Despite the usual “Victor Meldrews” complaining about wasting public money and the “parking” lobby it seemed to go down quite well – in fact I was quite impressed.

Of course it is only £2million, which doesn’t go very far with contracts let by local and national authorities, and the main part of the project, which will take up a sizable chunk of the budget, is to relay the Town Square so that it can accommodate heavy vehicles for Fairs, Markets and other community events. So with just this bit, it will not look much different, except maybe a different colour and type of paving.

The interesting bits are the so called “cosmetics”. Recent research shows what we here at Barkingside 21 have been saying for years – the range of shops and services and the look and feel of the High Street are far more important factors than on-street parking when it comes to attacting footfall, activity and customers.

click here for more illustrations (PDF 2Mb)

The entrances to both the Library and Redbridge’s ONLY swimming pool are no longer compliant to present day standards and the opportunity will be taken to upgrade these. Rather than having the ramps stick straight out from the circular library they will be wrapped around the building and the small unused garden will be opened up to give access all the way around the building with trees and greening. Disabled parking bays will be allocated at the library end of the rear car park.

Proceeding from the High Street to the crossing in Craven Gardens the pavement will be cut back closer to the library building, dispensing with the cobbles, with greened areas between pedestrians and the roundabout meaning the railings can be removed.

Back in the Square a collonade (mirroring the shape of the library roof) is to be built along the blank wall giving cover for market stalls in our very predictable English weather and at the far end there will be a platform/stage incorporated into the new entrance to our borough’s ONLY swimming pool.

Moving to the other side of our one and ONLY swimming pool we have the Virginia Gardens part of the project. There is a large area of unused space behind a 12’ high brick wall which is to be opened up and greened as a muilti function community space including informal play.

Nigel and the Architects (a 1970s Rock band) hope to get started actually doing stuff early in 2013 and have it finished for Christmas – the back stop for spending the grant is March 2014. They will be back at Fullwell Cross Library for our AGM on Wednesday 17th April 2013 to give an update on progress. Put the date in your diary now.

To wrap up this post our indefatigable local councillor Harold Moth wants a space for a Christmas tree next year and if we can get Barkingside High Street looking like this it should stop some of the moans and groans about how “pathetic the lights are”.

And here’s a thought for Redbridge Council and the Traders for next year’s Christmas lights switch on. On Saturday I was in Brentwood for their Christmas lights switch on. The High Street was closed to traffic, there was a Fun Fair and there was free parking in the off road public car parks. The place was buzzing with people, er on foot – pedestrians spend more money in the High Street than motorists.

Your mission should you choose to accept it …..


  1. And what was said about providing better links to Fairlop Waters? Lemme guess...nothing! I suppose that's not really up to the consultants though. I'm interested to see how this turns out.

  2. Redbridge council are so supportive of business that on Saturday 24 November - just 5 weeks before Christmas - the town hall car park was closed all day. It is the closest car park to the core trading area, and the most suitable for disabled drivers or passengers.

    Redbridge council lacks both vision and compassion. Roll on May 2014.