Coming soon… Wanstead’s own Town Team

photo (27)As economic conditions continue to struggle back into life, the news from Wanstead High Street is – to say the least – mixed.

  • Judith of Wanstead will be shrinking from its generous double-frontage to a single shop
  • The Old Cottage Antiques is looking distinctly antiqued (not to say empty)
  • L’Infinito seems to have turned out decidedly finito
  • Rio shoe shop is heading off to Brazil Buckhurst Hill

Not all is doom, however. The residents’ only parking restrictions on several streets are to end imminently, creating an estimated 120 spaces which will (in theory) be available for people making short trips to Wanstead High Street.

And in another sign of hope, Wanstead is to get its own Mary Portas-inspired “Town Team”.

This week it was reported that, despite the efforts, most of the dozen pilot towns across the UK under Portas’s regeneration scheme had nevertheless suffered economically. However, the Town Team idea seems to be one with legs. Cllr Thomas Chan told Wansteadium that Redbridge plans to allocate funds to support the town centres in Redbridge, setting up Town Teams with membership drawn from businesses, public sector organisations, community groups and the community. “The Town Team idea recommends local town centres to work in partnership with all stakeholders in order to make our high streets more vibrant, improving not just footfalls but also promoting the cultural, environmental, health and wellbeing – among other aspects of the area.”

Views expressed this week on are divided. User Am_Hayer wrote: “[The] state of the food scene in Wanstead is shocking. Shop/Restaurant owners need to seriously up their game otherwise the discerning consumer will continue to hop on the Tube and take their custom elsewhere. Orford Rd, Walthamstow, has managed to create an attractive little strip with good quality eateries. I struggle to find a single comparable example in Wanstead.”

Sean Farrell responded: “I think Wanstead shapes up quite well… [It] has to do battle with Westfield. Gioberti told me people were, inexplicably to me, spending a day at Westfield and having lunch there. I bet it’s partly to blame for the closure of the men’s clothes shop in Wanstead.”

Am_Haher replied: “Wanstead is now full of city professionals with deep pockets and high expectations. I suggest some of our local business people take a trip to Lordship Lane or Marylebone High St. See what these streets offer and the prices they charge. I for one think there would be nothing wrong with some of the better quality chains adding to the mix….Strada, Giraffe…”

In that, at least, he/she will be getting his or her way – Costa Coffee will arrive in August.

22 thoughts on “Coming soon… Wanstead’s own Town Team”

  1. I actually think it’s a shame Costa is filling one of the empty slots given we already have Starbucks and a few independents. Domething like Taylor Street Barristas or the monmouth Coffee Company is what we really need….! Failing that, even Pret does a decent flat white and the food is OK for a lunchtime s/w.

    Ideally, a kid friendly Brunchy place would be a welcome addition. EAT 17 do it very well. Faling that a Giraffe will do : )

    I’m a “he” BTW.

  2. I think Am_Hayer might be overplaying the gentrification of Wanstead just a tad and as for learning from Marylebone High Street; you are kidding, right?

    Whilst sightings of plantation shutters, the Farrow and Ball palette and bugaboo prams are clearly on the up, Wanstead still has a broad demographic, which continues to be reflected on the High Street.

    Add to that the impact of Westfield and the Internet on consumer goods, like shoes and clothing, and you kind of see why the High Street is going where it is.

    It is also being shaped by some poor choices being made by people starting up on the high street, and we shouldn’t be concerned that some businesses will fail.

    Have to say that a ‘town team’ fills me with fear as the last thing we need is TV rating developed gimmickry, being championed by a group of people with no real talent.

    Broadway market rocks btw!

  3. Customers and concerned Wanstead residents should feedback to restaurants directly to tell them what needs improving. Restaurant owners out there, are you ready for proper, constructive feedback to help improve your establishment and help your business thrive. There should be a “RATE A RESTAURANT” week! I have been to every single restaurant and cafe in Wanstead and the only ones I go back to are Provender, The Larder and Cuckfields, what does it say about all the other restaurants in and around Wanstead?

  4. No, I am not kidding. I lived off MHS for several years. You would be surprised at how mixed an area it is, given where it is located. Also, take a look at the bars/eateries – most are affordable – charge no more than places on WHS. I speak from recent experience/knowledge. Yes, there are a few execeptions – Providores/Orrery, but they are destination restaurants. The rest simply served the locals – I know, as I spent half my adult life eating/drinking there.

    Wanstead is definitely gentrified. Our road is full of professionals/business owners and some retired couples. I rarely hear a broad East London accent.

    As for the Westfield effect, I’m sure there will be some impact, but what are they competing with? Do locals really think of Westfield first when they want Coffee/Brunch/Sunday Roast/A Drink/Dinner/Groceries………

  5. I recently moved from Orford Road in Walthamstow to Wanstead.

    Eat 17 is nice and the Tapas (Orford Saloon) is the best Tapas I have eaten, albeit expensive but that is it. The Italian Mondragone is hardly a patch on Gioberti and the pub food in Orford Road has not been missed since we moved with the exception of the Castle a short walk away (although they change the chef every other week).

    On Wanstead High Street we have Provender which I think is fantastic (Back off Green Party with your recent keyboard warrior campaign against it), The Cuckfield grub is decent if you are prepared to wait an hour even when it is empty, Gioberti shows how Italian food should be done and even at a push you could say that for the money The George is exactly what you expect from a chain like that.
    You also have the Queens Steak House, which is expensive but very good and the Larder for a quick snack if you can get in! I have not forgotten the Indian etc.. they are all worthy of a meal every now and then.
    On the other end of the scale though you have the Thai which is horrible.. Even the decor and smell is a major put off.. L’Infinito has never had more than 2 people in when I have walked past and even then having no people in is more common.

    So to compare Orford Road to the High Street is not really a fair comparison, Wanstead has much more to offer.

    The comment regarding people not eating because of the loss of the menswear shop, I do not accept that. It was over priced and not well laid out, I cannot believe for a second that the closure of it has caused the decline of eaters.

    I do not want to see empty shops/restaurants on the High Street but some do need to move over and let other business take over. We also need to defend business like Provender against the recent actions of the Green Party..

  6. I agree about the broad demographic – seems to me that we are seeing the throes of change on our High Street rather than its death. There are a good few shops on the High Street that don’t seem to know who they are aiming their stuff at. In general I don’t think people go to a high street the size of Wanstead’s for clothes and shoes any more, I don’t think this is just Westfield.
    There are lots of things it could do with IMO – a good toy shop, somewhere to buy a useful present for all ages, a good cafe somewhere between the likes of Caesar and the Larder, a bigger and better health food shop/deli, be lovely to have a bookshop etc etc…
    And my pet project would be to get something done with that building that is the Vietnamese Restaurant and the snooker club – that would bring people into the area and the high street.
    But rents are pretty prohibitive and off putting to people who might take a punt.

  7. Don’t want to sound pedantic but I said: “Wanstead shapes up quite well next to Highgate.” Someone else had said Highgate was much better than Wanstead but as one of the wealthiest parts of London with Sting, Geri Halliwell and George Michael living there it has a surprisingly dreary high street.

  8. I think a town-team is a great idea and agree that the high street needs to ‘smarten up’ a bit! People will only come to a high street that sells things they want to buy (other tahn houses) and has decent places to eat and drink. I live in and run my small business (for parents and babies) in Wanstead and am an advocate of community-based businesses – but it is difficult to compete against big chains (the idea of more of this on our high street is awful)! Today I had a client come from Victoria for baby yoga but could only recommend the Larder and the Orange Tree for her to have a browse in on her way home… we are missing something here! I rarely post on these site but felt inspired by this article so thank you! Sally x

  9. Not sure we’ve quite got the demographic for Marylebone High Street, but we should be aspiring to the likes of Lauriston Village in Victoria Park. More quality independent traders like The Larder and The Orange Tree. Just go into The Larder any Saturday morning to see what the locals of Wanstead want more of. A forum to get the local community and other stakeholders together could be a worthwhile opportunity. It is possible to have a vibrant high street in close proximity to Westfield, Lauriston Village manages it. Get the council to invest in a decent park to keep kids happy on the vacant Evergreen Field and encourage local entrepreneurs to open some good shops/eateries for the parents. Wanstead has a lot to offer – Christchurch Green, Wanstead Park, we just need a more interesting high street.

  10. More chains can never be the answer! I’ve never been in The Larder or The Cuckfield and seen it quiet. Get the right quality pubs/cafe’s/restaurants in to Wanstead and demand is there.

  11. As an independent trader on the high street I would be keen to discover what it actually is that will bring people to the high street…. It is hardly fair to say that the only places of interest are the larder and the Orange Tree. Individually we are all trying attract as many local people to the high street but the weather really has ruined this! The street is completely deserted! If handled in the correct way then this ‘ town team’ could be our answer. We cannot just simply turn into Highgate as suggested but need some worthy suggestions to ignite a little more interest to the high street.

  12. I am glad our High Street is provoking discussion and it’s reassuring there are so many residents who are passionate about Wanstead. It is a gem of a place with so much potential. I noticed our entire NCT class was made up of couples who had moved here from other parts of London. I was chatting to my sibling (whose children are now primary school age) and she commented there are significantly more yummy mummies with designer buggies in tow now than from her day as a young(er) mum. The place has already changed and I would not be surprised if better quality places open and thrive on the High Street. Ultimately, residents will vote with their feet and we should all benefit in the long run.

  13. Incomer – Re the snooker club/Vietnamese, I think we need a local Cinema that shows old films and is also a meeting point in the day for a glass of wine/coffee/reading the papers etc. Of course, it would need to be kid friendlly as well.

  14. Anyone remember Horsfall and Wright; I loved it but they couldn’t make it viable and that store was surely the sort of thing people would like to see now?

    I’m told the card shop is closing; not sure which one though, but there are 3 lol.

  15. The market should be there for the right ideas but the reminder about horsfall and wright is a good one. Maybe there’s been more gentrification since it shut but it seemed to do a reasonable job of catering to “professionals”. Westfield will have had an effect and I take Gioberti seriously when they say so. I don’t think a bookshop would survive what with amazon and Westfield. I think the oxfam bookshop has been good for the high st.

  16. There’s some great shops and shopkeepers in Wanstead high street. It is the inverted snobbery of the local people and the attitude of people like Goldberg thinking shops are overpriced and then jump straight onto the train to Westfield to have s spend up on items thry haven’t even checked the price of!!

  17. I also loved Horsfall and Wright and it is sadly missed. was exactly the sort of place that you could go to for gifts for all ages. It’s a real shame it left. Karen – I’m not sure what shop you run and perhaps I was being harsh about shops worth visiting on the high street, but I was trying to focus on the independent retailers. The Art Shop and Nicole’s are good for cards and the odd gift. You can get a good manicure/pedicure at Pura and I try to support the greengrocer and butcher. Clothes shops on the High Street are just not up to scratch as far as I’m concerned. I would definitely buy from an independent boutique and in fact did occasionally buy from The Orange Tree when it sold clothes. A women’s clothes shop that is going to do well needs to offer something that you’re not going to find at Westfield and provides for the changing Wanstead demographic. It should combine small scale designers, really good accessories and may be some good cosmetic products.

  18. I agree with Rousseau here, Costa, Giraffe, Chain food, – No thanks at all, people will be asking for a Mac Donald’s next. Provender is fantastic, go just about once a week, agree back of green party! but let’s not forget the Tapas place that re opened a year or so ago. The food is great, the manager is really nice and they do the BEST Irish coffee in town. Geoberti has upped their game a bit recently as well Lifinito – the other Italian was just not good.
    As soon as the parking is sorted, I hope it will pick up for the shops – I do what I can to support.
    Re clothes shops – I go to Coco for women’s clothes, I buy from them a lot, and they do have a good range, I always find something, you can’t find the same in Westfield. Don’t be put off by the shop front; the clothes are normally better inside than you think. But are a bit pricey I admit.

    The other cheaper clothes shop that has just moved where Santa Fe was – Loafers are a good price a really comfy.

    I rarely comment on these things, but I would hate Wanstead to become a Loughton, with load of chains and pound shops.

    Karen asked what could attract more people?, we don’t have a wine bar, a proper wine bar, like Vinotech, A Brunch / American place, ribs and burgers etc, and I wish there was a larger gym as well.

  19. Someone please open a fishmonger, not one that just sells frozen packs of fish, but an old fashion, traditional fishmonger……I for one will be its biggest customer.

  20. A fishmongers is a great idea. I also miss Horsfall and Wright for funky home furnishings and gifts but the main thing for me is decent places to eat and drink. Apart from the Cuckfield I would not step into any of the other pubs and bars around here. Am looking forward to the opening of the sushi place and really hope it does well. It would be nice to have the mix of places South Woodford seems to have now.

  21. Having recently moved from Buckhurst Hill to Wanstead (my daughter has been at St Joseph’s for the past two years) via Hackney I have seen variety of high streets and I love Wanstead however, it does not stop me from going back to my old haunts.
    Most of the eating places look a little tired and shabby and seemingly uninviting. Costa will do well because it will be clean modern, big doors to enable the yummy crowd to get in with their bugaboos, and have proper napping changing facilities etc.
    Personally I would rather walk than get in a car and go to Westfield.
    Wanstead suffers the same problems as Buckhurst Hill. Quite an affluent area but the shops don’t quite match up to the clientele. Whilst having deep pockets they still require value for money. The Sicilian restaurant opened nearly two years ago and is packed with crazy often erratic service but the foods fabulous and reasonably priced. The owner has three other restaurants in Stoke Newington. Which restaurants in Wanstead have for example a Tuesday night special, a meal from a selected menu a glass for wine for a tenner, which restaurants have a children’s menu.
    We have two bakeries Greggs and Percy Ingels who are both boring . The fruit and veg shop is stuck in a 1970’s time warp. These yummy Mummies like to feed their children like sweet potato mash and exotic fruit so they get on bus and go to the International Supermarket in South Woodford. Have you seen the variety of what’s on offer. The way the fruit and being is displayed is vibrant and exciting. My daughter always wants to try something new!
    Victoria Park has a decent children’s book shop, a fantastic toy shop that doesn’t offer the same products that you will find in Westfield. There’s a ‘Loafing’ where you can buy artisan bread or even gluten free and the children love the homemade cakes. The high street needs some va va voom to keep the people local. However, this will never happen if the rates remain extortionate! Redbridge council needs to work in conjunction with the community. The Town Team is a good start!

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