Wanstead and Westfield: Reasons to be cheerful

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Wansteadium’s property blogger George C Parker offers his regular round-up.

The opulent Stratford City Westfield is coming, and I think it may bring a touch of retail therapy to the Wanstead property market.
Although the organisers of Tuesday’s opening ceremony were not able to secure my services in time, they were very wise to install Pussycat Nicole at short notice – she will be a most adequate stand in. Shortly before noon, amidst great pomp, the front doors will glide noiselessly asunder, ushering in a new realm of stores and attractions – all a mere three miles from our doorstep. I’m sure I’ll be along to visit shortly, be it to check out the sensible cardigans at the John Lewis, show the youngsters a thing or two about ten-pin at the All Star Lanes, or perhaps take the current Mrs Parker to the movies. Doubtless our local estate agents will be name-dropping Westfield at every opportunity now.

Some might say that Westfield’s emergence may be the re-making of Wanstead High Street. The village atmosphere that many of us appreciate, and would like to develop further, is a delicate and sometimes elusive mixture. Perhaps the emergence of this brash newcomer to the West, with its stark branding and chain outlets might counterpose the quieter and greener environs we enjoy closer to home. If it encourages more specialist small shops, eateries, perhaps a gallery or some studios to set up in the near future, then Wanstead benefits both ways.

* Multiple occupancy of property has been getting a bad name recently. Especially when large numbers of squatters are involved!

According to the resurgent Wanstead Guardian Redbridge Council are reviewing their legislative options on this hot topic. Spokesmen talk earnestly of preserving a village atmosphere by ensuring that any future applications for ‘homes in multiple occupation’ are less likely to be approved.

Fortunately the vast majority of Wanstead properties are used and cherished as family homes, but it’s good to hear that such bases are being covered. Perhaps at the end of the discussions there may be time for the Planning and Regeneration committee to discuss enforcing a solution to the site of the former High Street chocolate shop! That would be a great welcome to the incoming restaurateurs on the site of the former Russell’s Bar.

* One of Wanstead’s most distinguished properties is the splendid, Grade II-listed The Shrubbery. Comprising of three elegant blocks, some of the 42 apartments in this 1935 Art Deco gem boast original features such as the tiled fireplaces and beautiful wood block flooring. Now beloved of senior Wansteadians due to its excellent access to the High Street and Christchurch Green, the Shrubbery is also only a short dash to the diversions of the Library and Wanstead House. A dear departed old aunt of mine lived through the latter part of her dotage there, and loved the ‘dolls-house’ fitted kitchens that they originally came with. You could almost imagine Q himself designing the near-lethal folding out ironing board contraption. This ground-floor apartment would be an ideal base for someone who wants to be near the centre of town – perhaps near relatives – without the worry of managing a house or even using the stairs. With a garage included in the price, this seems a wonderful way to continue enjoying Wanstead life.

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