The Waltham Forest Growth Commission has published a range of suggestions aimed at improving the borough's economy

This Is Local London: Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics speaking at the report's launch. Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics speaking at the report's launch.

Waltham Forest must improve its high streets, develop an attractive night-time economy and establish a unique ‘brand’ in order to boost the economy, according to an independent report.

The Waltham Forest Growth Commission last night published its findings on the borough's strengths and weaknesses and made recommendations about how to grow the economy.

Waltham Forest currently has the fourth smallest economy in London.

Chaired by Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics, the council-commissioned report calls on the council to lead in taking advantage of assets which other areas in London would see as crucial to economic growth, such as good transport links, a high quality public realm and green space, and good housing.

“The commission believes Waltham Forest is in an excellent position to encourage inward investment, support business and strengthen skills to lift economic output in ways that improve the lives of its people,” Professor Travers said.

“Economic growth is fundamental to meeting the needs and aspirations of the residents and businesses of Waltham Forest.”

He said the borough has weathered recent economic difficulties, particularly in securing funding for several flagship projects, and now has significant potential for economic development.

After canvassing thousands of residents and businesses over the last six months, primarily through an online survey, it was deemed that Waltham Forest and its assets were well-known locally, but little-known outside the borough and raising its profile was central to an improved economy.

It was also said that the state of the high streets was a driving factor behind pessimism about economic prospects.

The commission concluded that the borough needs a clear identity to explain why the area is a good place to live and work, building on the industrial and civic history in the borough and a growing creative and artistic sector.

The William Morris Gallery’s recent refurbishment and widespread recognition was noted as a prime example of such a marketing strategy.

“The borough should develop a coherent identity which reflects its current assets, cultural history and four distinct centres [Chingford, Leyton, Leytonstone, and Walthamstow],” the report said.

It was suggested that a bespoke governance structure for each of the area’s main hubs should be considered.

Establishing a designated chamber of commerce was also recommended.

Council leader Chris Robbins said: “We need to continue to work to ensure that we deliver the maximum possible economic and social benefits for our residents and businesses and ensure that they enjoy their fair share of London’s growth and prosperity.”

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:26am Wed 26 Mar 14

ruby newbie says...

sadly the only thing this borough deems to be investment is building more and more houses/flats clogging up every thing
sadly the only thing this borough deems to be investment is building more and more houses/flats clogging up every thing ruby newbie
  • Score: 11

1:30pm Wed 26 Mar 14

GavinQ says...

How about building a Dog Track? Or an old-fashioned, Art-Deco Cinema? Or a football stadium? Or even, crazy I know, a Police Station? Wait? What? Oh...
How about building a Dog Track? Or an old-fashioned, Art-Deco Cinema? Or a football stadium? Or even, crazy I know, a Police Station? Wait? What? Oh... GavinQ
  • Score: 6

1:40pm Wed 26 Mar 14

mdj says...

'calls on the council to lead in taking advantage of assets which other areas in London would see as crucial to economic growth...';
'Waltham Forest is in an excellent position to encourage inward investment..'

The good professor is too courteous to spell out the point, which is: Why have these good things not been happening in an area with so much to offer?
The answer, as long-term residents already know, is Council neglect, apathy, incompetence, waste and probably corruption, over many, many years.
Does he have any recommendations as to how this could be changed?
Labour have been in overall power here for well over 25 years, after all.
'calls on the council to lead in taking advantage of assets which other areas in London would see as crucial to economic growth...'; 'Waltham Forest is in an excellent position to encourage inward investment..' The good professor is too courteous to spell out the point, which is: Why have these good things not been happening in an area with so much to offer? The answer, as long-term residents already know, is Council neglect, apathy, incompetence, waste and probably corruption, over many, many years. Does he have any recommendations as to how this could be changed? Labour have been in overall power here for well over 25 years, after all. mdj
  • Score: 6

5:34pm Wed 26 Mar 14

NTiratsoo says...

There are some sensible suggestions in this report, but also a sea of platitudes.

More seriously, the commission seems to be ignorant of recent local history. It’s all very well to suggest, as the commission does, that skills providers should work together under the leadership of the Council, and that BIDS companies may be a useful way of promoting business in particular localities, but such solutions already have been tried here – ‘Worknet’ and ‘the E11 BID Co.’ anyone?. Of course, the commission could have done us all a service and reflected on what went wrong in these cases, but that of course would have meant commenting on the leadership in the Town Hall, obviously a bridge too far, particularly because the commissioners appear to have been closely chaperoned throughout by the Council’s head of PR! So what much of the report reads like is the thoughts of a Martian on a brief recce – well intentioned, no doubt, but disconnected from time and place.

Finally, it is a pity that though the commission apparently met seven times, the minutes of only three of its meetings are available on the Council website. Local taxpayers funded the commission: why on earth can’t we read its full deliberations?

Still, it is probably not worth getting too excited. As I pointed out under a previous story, Navigant produced a perfectly respectable report on the local economy in 2010, and that has just gathered dust. In four years time, Professor Travers’ travails no doubt will seem like a similarly long distant memory.
There are some sensible suggestions in this report, but also a sea of platitudes. More seriously, the commission seems to be ignorant of recent local history. It’s all very well to suggest, as the commission does, that skills providers should work together under the leadership of the Council, and that BIDS companies may be a useful way of promoting business in particular localities, but such solutions already have been tried here – ‘Worknet’ and ‘the E11 BID Co.’ anyone?. Of course, the commission could have done us all a service and reflected on what went wrong in these cases, but that of course would have meant commenting on the leadership in the Town Hall, obviously a bridge too far, particularly because the commissioners appear to have been closely chaperoned throughout by the Council’s head of PR! So what much of the report reads like is the thoughts of a Martian on a brief recce – well intentioned, no doubt, but disconnected from time and place. Finally, it is a pity that though the commission apparently met seven times, the minutes of only three of its meetings are available on the Council website. Local taxpayers funded the commission: why on earth can’t we read its full deliberations? Still, it is probably not worth getting too excited. As I pointed out under a previous story, Navigant produced a perfectly respectable report on the local economy in 2010, and that has just gathered dust. In four years time, Professor Travers’ travails no doubt will seem like a similarly long distant memory. NTiratsoo
  • Score: 4

5:41pm Wed 26 Mar 14

NTiratsoo says...

PS I attended a street consultation in Leytonstone about the commission's work, and raised the question of Worknet, only to be told by the staff present: "We don't talk about Worknet anymore".
PS I attended a street consultation in Leytonstone about the commission's work, and raised the question of Worknet, only to be told by the staff present: "We don't talk about Worknet anymore". NTiratsoo
  • Score: 4

11:37am Thu 27 Mar 14

David Cowell says...

I would like to see the list of 4 main centres increased to 5 and Highams Park included, not forgotten. It has a mainline train station and is able to add value to the offering in the local economy north of the borough. Additionally I would like to suggest we lobby for creating an identity around green technology in Waltham Forest. Sustainability should be factored in to new developments to ensure that we take advantage of regeneration that points to the future and will increase our magnetic pull in line with our chosen identity. This also falls in line with central government proposals for East London post Olympics.
I would like to see the list of 4 main centres increased to 5 and Highams Park included, not forgotten. It has a mainline train station and is able to add value to the offering in the local economy north of the borough. Additionally I would like to suggest we lobby for creating an identity around green technology in Waltham Forest. Sustainability should be factored in to new developments to ensure that we take advantage of regeneration that points to the future and will increase our magnetic pull in line with our chosen identity. This also falls in line with central government proposals for East London post Olympics. David Cowell
  • Score: 4

6:37pm Mon 31 Mar 14

fabster says...

mdj and NTiratsoo have raised valid points which I don't need to echo.

The one thing that I would add is the list of organisations whom the Council and the Commission had surveyed - Of the organisations whose views were sought & evidence received, these include:

- L&Q (who build numerous developments in the borough including the Dog Track development)
- ASDA
- Sainsbury's
- Strettons (a commercial estate agent who sells lots of local business premises to developers & advises them on the feasibility of planning issues)
- Lee Valley Estates (who manage 'The Hale' at Tottenham Hale, which the new Ferry Lane development will mirror)
- North London Waste Authority (those who follow Clyde Loake's career will appreciate this one)
- E11bid (an organisation reported to have come under scrutiny for mismanagement of public funds, under the directorship of, guess who…)

If evidence used in this report is garnered from supermarket chains, commercial and large scale residential developers as well as discredited organisations, what chance the resultant proposals be robustly objective?
mdj and NTiratsoo have raised valid points which I don't need to echo. The one thing that I would add is the list of organisations whom the Council and the Commission had surveyed - Of the organisations whose views were sought & evidence received, these include: - L&Q (who build numerous developments in the borough including the Dog Track development) - ASDA - Sainsbury's - Strettons (a commercial estate agent who sells lots of local business premises to developers & advises them on the feasibility of planning issues) - Lee Valley Estates (who manage 'The Hale' at Tottenham Hale, which the new Ferry Lane development will mirror) - North London Waste Authority (those who follow Clyde Loake's career will appreciate this one) - E11bid (an organisation reported to have come under scrutiny for mismanagement of public funds, under the directorship of, guess who…) If evidence used in this report is garnered from supermarket chains, commercial and large scale residential developers as well as discredited organisations, what chance the resultant proposals be robustly objective? fabster
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree