Mayor’s designs on Waltham Forest

Thursday, 8 December 2011

High streets are flourishing thanks to the Mayor’s Outer London Fund.  Sarah Considine from Design for London explains…

High streets are flourishing thanks to the Mayor’s Outer London Fund. Sarah Considine from Design for London explains:

This morning, Boris Johnson visited Walthamstow to switch on Wood Street’s Christmas lights. Thanks to £310,000 worth of investment from the Outer London Fund, it is flourishing, one of many distinctive high streets in the city benefiting from the scheme. This initiative is supporting local high streets across London by giving them a fighting chance to compete with the capital’s retail centres.

Wood Street is both an ordinary outer London high street and a great place to shop, with independent retailers selling everything from artisan produce to antiques and memorabilia. The local borough of Waltham Forest recognises how important it is to retain its unique characteristics and wants to raise its profile as a centre for niche shopping.

The first round of funding will support physical improvements such as new lighting, signage, graffiti removal and planting, and helping prepare for larger scale shop front and art projects. As well as these vital physical improvements, there are measures that directly target businesses through support to existing traders and opportunities for new ventures.

One proposal focuses on the street’s historic indoor market. A competition to win reduced rent at 16 market units aims to attract sparky, new ideas to strengthen its role as a centre for the weird and wonderful.  Funding is also supporting pop-up activities and events, and getting the local community involved in shaping their high street. Just last month, residents took an active role in planting the Wood Street plaza.

The Outer London Fund initiative is supported by £50 million of Mayoral investment with guidance from Design for London. The programme consists of two rounds of funding – the first round is well on the way. Winners of the second round will be announced in January.

Sarah Considine
Design for London