WORK on the permanent redevelopment of the Arcade site may not begin for three years, it has been revealed.

A history of false starts, failed schemes and broken promises has left the council-owned eye sore in the middle of Walthamstow empty since 2003.

Work has begun to re-open the site for temporary community use, but a council reports states a permanent scheme is unlikely to be completed before 2012.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, Enterprise cabinet member Cllr Terry Wheeler admitted the delay was due to the current economic climate.

“It is very unlikely any property developer will enter into this at this time,” he said.

He also provided more details on how the site on the corner of Hoe Street and High Street will be used in the short term.

The plans include a fence for artists to decorate, a performance area, a green space, a terracotta-coloured path and measures to prevent motorists from parking on the site.

A public consultation on the proposal will take place next month but cabinet, which will formally agree short-term use on June 25, will make the final decision.

The authority plans to invest £35 million of taxpayers’ money into building on the site after developers St Modwen pulled out of funding the scheme.

But the new proposal was found to have broken European Union procurement rules, causing further delay.

It has sill not been confirmed whether the Public Works Loan Board will approve funding for the plan.

Cllr Bob Sullivan, chairman of the overview and scrutiny management committee, suggested a management board made up of people who live nearby be set up to decide what goes on the site in the short term.

He said: “Let the residents decide, why do we always think we know best?”

But committee members said the use of the site is a borough-wide issue and voted down the recommendation.

Cllr Wheeler said: “I don't have a problem with people coming up with different ideas, but I think we have to recognise the arcade site is a borough resource.”

It is hoped work to prepare the site for temporary use will be completed by the end of next month.