The future of Wanstead Youth Centre

The decision about the future of Wanstead Youth Centre on Elmcroft Avenue poses a few difficult issues.

Overwhelmingly it seems that a proposal from Redbridge council to close the centre is about money – it will need, apparently, £2.4m to bring it up to scratch, at a time when public finances are under more stress than normal and when a multi-million pound investment is being made in the new Wanstead Leisure Centre.

But losing a public asset like the centre, which includes sports halls, a theatre and function rooms, will be a real loss for the community. Anti-closure campaigners say 1,200 people use the centre each week.

The building itself dates from the mid-1940s and originally formed part of the Nightingale High School site. This school closed in 1987 and was mostly demolished, though the Nightingale Primary School which took over the site could eventually have used many of the classrooms. It had to install prefab classrooms for many years.

It feels that there is an inevitability that, should Redbridge proceed with its plan to close the site, more houses will be built, even though that spot where Elmcroft meets Deynecourt now feels quite dense.

The council says: “The Council is considering alternatives to renovating the building, including redevelopment. We would expect any redevelopment of the site to include community space as a precondition of planning permission being granted.”

Local sports groups which use the premises are among those calling on the council not to close the site. Demolition would undoubtedly mean the loss of a community asset, just as losing the old high school buildings did.

What’s really needed is a benefactor who would take on the site, renovate some or all of the facilities, and preserve the centre for Wanstead’s future. If that’s not going to be Redbridge, then who will it be?

There is a consultation on the proposal at this page, which explains some of the reasoning behind the proposal.

There is also an e-petition against the closure, which is available on the Redbridge site, but (just like the planning site) it is not possible to give exact web addresses. Anyone looking for it will need to go to this page, and click on the word “e-petitions” in the first paragraph, then click on Wanstead Youth Centre. User-friendly this is not but don’t let that stop you having your say.

Wanstead folk speak in new photo exhibition

Photo: Russell Boyce

An exhibition capturing Wanstead people’s thoughts during lockdown is being staged by photographer Russell Boyce who last year published a collection of shopkeepers’ stories.

The new display is currently being shown on the railings around the Temple in Wanstead Park, where Russell took the pictures and interviewed the people involved. It will run until March 26.

Here are some reactions to the photographs.

St Mary’s 5G mast rejected

Google Earth

An application to put a 20-meter 5G phone mast on a grass verge near to St Mary’s Church has been rejected by council planners.

The mast would have been taller than the mature trees on St Mary’s Avenue, and would have required a concrete platform to have been built on the grass verge.

Redbridge Council rejected the plan, which was submitted just before Christmas.

St Mary’s is the only Grade 1 listed building in Redbridge.

Where the mast was proposed to be sited

Three screens for Wanstead?

We reported a couple of weeks ago on a planning application for illuminated advert screens on Wanstead High Street – an area where shopkeepers are not permitted to have illuminated signs.

Well, we didn’t read the application carefully enough. It’s actually for THREE advert screens on the high street. One outside the Light House fish and chip shop, one outside Boots, and one on the other side of the road, outside the Pura beauticians opposite the Bull.

We thought you would like to know. Comments on the applications, numbers 3950/22, 3954/22, 3957/22, 3962/22 and 3963/22 at the Redbridge Planning site need to be made by TODAY (Thursday).

That’s if you can find your way through the Redbridge Planning site, something which could do with a good dose of planning itself.

  • Shops on Wanstead High Street are only supposed to have ‘externally illuminated’ signs – ie it’s OK to have lights shining on them, but not in them – because of the conservation zone.

Hundreds of new trees planted in Wanstead

Hundreds of saplings have been planted by volunteers in the Roding Valley Park, just next to the M11 in the area at the end of Elmcroft Avenue.

The tree planting was a project last weekend by Redbridge and the Trees for Cities organisation. It’s near a community orchard which was planted in 2016 and now has dozens of apple trees which are nearly mature.

Gold stars all round.