Council set to demolish Ilford car park

Plans to demolish a “hideous” car park serving Ilford town centre were approved by Redbridge Council last month.

The council-owned Ley Street multi-storey car park offers 730 spaces but suffers from structural issues and does not make a profit.

To avoid “reputational” damage from the car park joining other derelict buildings in Ilford, the council has budgeted up to £1million to demolish the building before selling the land.

Council leader Jas Athwal said the 1960s building suffers from “concrete cancer” and has mounting overheads that mean it loses £100,000 a year.

Cllr Athwal added: “This is something which been on agenda long before I was a councillor, it’s been discussed in many reports and it’s fallen on me as the cabinet member to finally bring this hideous thing down.

“[Council] officers have concluded that it’s running at a net loss to the council… I’m not sure what the technical term is, but the car park is suffering from concrete cancer and will be unsafe anyway.”

Concrete cancer is a term used to describe corrosion to the steel reinforcements in the structure of a building which will eventually cause the building to collapse if left unaddressed.

In 2020 a Freedom of Information request showed that in the previous year, Ley Street car park generated an income of only £137.

According to a report outlining the plans, other “undemolished and undeveloped” buildings in Ilford, such as the Harrison Gibson and Bodgers buildings, are undermining the council’s regeneration objectives.

The council also fears that if the new owner leaves the car park undeveloped for some time it would add to the “sense of blight” in the town centre and attract anti-social behaviour.

Part of the reason for the high cost of demolition is the complexity of demolishing a footbridge across the neighbouring railway line.

Other nearby car parking facilities include 1,200 spaces at Exchange Ilford and 640 spaces at Clements Road.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter