Waltham Forest Council leaders meet after £25m town hall refurbishment

Waltham Forest Council’s leadership met for the first time today in the new Walthamstow Town Hall after its £25 million refurbishment.

The Grade II-listed building, which first opened in 1941, has been repaired and made more accessible and now has a new fountain, all new windows and a bicycle store in the basement.

The refurbishment was the first phase of the council’s Fellowship Square regeneration, which will also see almost 450 new homes and a new civic building added to the site.

At today’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Simon Miller, cabinet member for housing development, said the project had given the building “an interior worthy of the exterior for the first time”.

He said: “It’s nothing short of an extraordinary achievement to get this far so quickly.

“This is a real testament to the serious business of this council and will benefit residents of the borough for hundreds of years to come.”

Work on the site began in June last year and Cllr Miller said that, since then, it had taken more than 415,000 hours of work to complete the project.

The council now needs planning permission to begin the next stage of the regeneration, building a three-storey civic building and five blocks of flats ranging from five to nine storeys.

This will add 433 new homes to the site, more than a third of Waltham Forest’s target for this year set by the London Plan, half of which will be affordable rent or shared ownership.

The council partnered with developer Countryside to deliver the homes and last week, Cllr Miller, agreed to dispose of a small part of Chestnut Field behind the Town Hall to make way for the development.

The planning application submitted to Countryside justifies building on part of the sports ground by noting that it is used “by only a handful of local sporting groups on a very ad-hoc basis”.

The application adds: “The field is somewhat cut off from Forest Road in terms of wayfinding, and is not overlooked or well lit resulting in an uninviting environment. 

“Due to surface water flooding, the field is also regularly water-logged and unpleasant to play on.”

Consultation on the plans for the new homes has now finished and will be considered by the council’s planning committee at an unknown future date.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter