May 2021


A lot to lose

Acr323073787729282959150Section of the 1915 Ordnance Survey map showing the allotment site

In the first of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments in Wanstead, Ged Heeney reflects on the site’s long history and emphasises how devastating it would be to lose it

I was recently sent an old map of Wanstead as a gift from my sister. It was an Ordnance Survey map, compiled in 1915 during the First World War. Wanstead was still in Essex, and much of the land to the east was rural. I found it fascinating to see so much that I recognised from having lived in Wanstead for the past 25 years, but also to see how much has changed.

The Hainault branch of the Central Line had not yet been built, so there was no Wanstead Station. The A406 and the A12 did not exist. Instead, the road leading east from The George pub was known as George Lane and went as far as what is now the footbridge over the A12, before turning left into what later became Nutter Lane.

The site which is now Wanstead High School was occupied by the rectory of St Mary the Virgin, Overton Drive, and the land opposite was ‘glebe’, used to support the parish priest. This use is reflected in the roads in that area, which were named after former rectors. Wigram and Drummond Roads were the only ones in 1915, but would later be joined by Corbett Road and Rectory Crescent.

There was no leisure centre either, and Redbridge Lane curved through the fields to the Red Bridge, which crossed the River Roding, and eventually gave its name to the local borough.

One thing that has not changed in over a hundred years, however, is the use of the land at the bottom of Redbridge Lane West, next to what is now River Close. The map shows this area as allotments. However, this could all change. The gas company, Cadent, which has a site adjoining the allotments, have said they wish to take over the allotments to use as a base for upgrade work. This would involve paving over the site for turning HGVs or for employee parking. This would be a devastating blow to us plot holders who have spent years nurturing the land.

Cadent met with the tenants to present their plans and listen to suggestions. I fear that if the planned developments take place, the land may never be returned to its original use.

If you value the green spaces in your neighbourhood, where wildlife such as toads and newts can live undisturbed, where people with learning disabilities are provided the chance to grow their own produce by local charity Sprout There!, and where the best fruit and vegetables in Wanstead can be found, then please sign our petition and pass it on!

For more information and to view the petition, visit


City limits

bluebells--1©Collette Curry

John Sharpe of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands reports on the Wanstead Park Action Plan and the group’s ongoing collaboration with the City of London. Photo by Collette Curry

Once again, regular and casual visitors to Wanstead Park have been marvelling at the compelling display of bluebells this spring, and during last summer, a similar level of widespread entrancement was induced by the magical arrival of long-horned cattle in the park.

Many people using the park give little or no thought to the machinations underpinning the staging of these activities, which fundamentally rely on City of London management (through Epping Forest) and the stakeholder groups which interact with them.

Both the Friends of Wanstead Parklands and the Wren Group make significant volunteer contributions – for example, the Friends through supervision of cattle grazing and monthly litter picks, and the Wrens through seasonal briar clearance from the bluebell wood and other vegetation removal.

An equally important role of the Friends is our ongoing collaboration with the City of London concerning the management of the park. For over 10 years, the Friends of Wanstead Parklands has been urging the City to invest in Wanstead Park to remove it from the Heritage at Risk register and provide it with a sustainable future. A consistent perceived barrier has been the plethora of City committees through which park improvement proposals have to travel to reach approval.

In September 2020, the City of London was presented with a highly critical “warts and all” report by Lord Lisvane, criticising its model of governance, and specifically, the number of committees. This report is ostensibly already having an impact on how the City, through Epping Forest, interacts with the Friends. Three nominal City of London committees dealing with Wanstead Park have now been condensed into one, with options for ad hoc strategic meetings as and when necessary. This may turn out to be a positive development, which provides the opportunity for Wanstead Park business to be streamlined and associated actions speeded up.

Immediate indicators are good. The single stakeholder meeting for Wanstead Park is now headed up by a Park Verderer, and for the first time, this liaison group has been presented with a Wanstead Park Action Plan, scheduling what will be done and when for the period 2021 and 2022. This includes operational and capital works covering water management, entrances and paths, and major and minor projects, including renovation of the Grotto. A real statement of accountability.

So far so good… The potential reality, though, is that this will not be an easy transition for the City, as engrained cultures and working practices are difficult to change with any degree of speed.

Some staging points targeted on the action plan are already looking stretched. Initial work to the Grotto landing stage supported by the Heritage of London Trust is delayed, as is the replacement of park signage. The progression of both these projects and the works identified in the action plan will be a genuine test as to whether the City can become a more fluid and responsive organisation, which will enable them to meet their own objectives and get things done.

The other main challenge continues to be access to City funding. The risk to future park funding has now been exacerbated by the uncertainties arising from the impact of Covid-19 on City of London income, which has caused a brake to be applied to all but the most essential capital expenditure. This has been equally frustrating for both the Friends and Epping Forest management who – in addition – have had to manage the environmentally damaging consequences of an estimated 350% increase in Wanstead Park and Epping Forest users over the last year.

In the present environment, it is possible future projects will have to consider alternative mixes of private and public funding, with additional working party support from volunteer groups very much part of the package.

On behalf of Wanstead Park users, the Friends will be closely monitoring developments.

City Limits is a regular column featured in the Friends of Wanstead Parklands’ newsletter. For more information and to join the Friends, visit


Future for Whipps

Acr46316289197504-61918© Ryder Architecture

In the eighth of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro encourages residents to view and comment on the planning application, which has now been submitted

A new Whipps is desperately needed, but the proposals as they stand cannot meet the needs of our population. This is the conviction of a growing body of MPs, councillors, clinicians and the communities the hospital serves. More space needs to be reserved on the Whipps Cross site for healthcare, for present and future needs.

The plans show a residential tower block next to the hospital on land which earlier plans had reserved for the hospital itself. More beds are needed – not 51 fewer – and all the valued services we currently have should be retained and developed.

At least 10 north-east London MPs have expressed concerns. Redbridge Council’s own Health Scrutiny Committee has formally raised the bed reduction issue with Barts Health Trust, along with concerns over the loss of the Margaret Centre (a specialist palliative care unit) and inadequate public transport links and public consultation. “We are seriously concerned that forecasts make unsustainable assumptions about the developments in primary care, community healthcare, and social care… the assumption that integrated care systems will reduce [hospital] demand is not evidenced,” said Neil Zammett, chair of the committee.

John Cryer MP has spoken in Parliament: “[Hospital] rebuilds are welcome… but there are also concerns that a number of the projects imply reductions in bed numbers. Particularly after the pandemic, that seems to me… very misguided. Indeed, people were saying that even before the pandemic.”

Regarding The Margaret Centre, Iain Duncan Smith MP – along with other MPs and Neil Zammett – has made clear the outstanding care the unit provides. Subsuming it into general end-of-life care is not a viable option.

A group of us – including local people who have experienced the care the Margaret Centre provided for their loved ones – have met with senior nurses, clinical leads and Whipps redevelopment directors, who are reviewing the new palliative and end-of-life care plans. We explained why a specialist unit like the Margaret Centre must be provided in the new hospital, and why disbursing this care to side rooms on general wards will be an unacceptable loss of quality and access. We found empathy and appreciation of the value of the model of care from the clinicians, but also had the impression of pressure from government level against providing a specialist unit. We received no commitment it will be provided. We have to ensure it is, and call on your support. We agreed to meet again.

Whipps is our hospital. We cannot allow this once-in-a-generations opportunity to fall so short and leave our hospital care under the same pressures as today.

For more information and to comment on the planning application, click here and search for Application Reference Numbers: 211245 and 211244

Watch video testimonies on the Margaret Centre here.

Read the Redbrdige Scrutiny committee’s letter to Barts Health Trust here.


Local National Trust centre plans for September in-person meeting


The Woodford and District National Trust Centre is planning for a return to in-person meetings on 22 September, when keen gardener Ed Fairey will be talking about the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in Essex.

“We have managed four Zoom events during the pandemic, but these have reminded us of how much we have missed the communal emotion of being together! More news will follow with the rest of our winter season meetings and outings,” said a spokesperson for the group.



The Corner House Project becomes a registered charity

IMG_4155The Corner House – opposite the Co-op – is the central node of the charity

The Corner House Project – a Wanstead-based initiative that supports the homeless in east London – has become a registered UK charity

“The Corner House Project was started in 2019 by a small team in Wanstead and has gone from strength to strength. We now have a huge team of volunteers who have worked hard throughout the pandemic to help the vulnerable. We are now branching out into other fundraising areas, with a huge summer event planned for 4 July at Eton Manor RFC,” said Lizi Arnold.



Consultation on PSPO for parks


Redbridge Council is consulting residents on the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for parks and green spaces across the borough.

“A PSPO for parks will enable the council to take enforcement action against the minority who cause a nuisance, for the benefit of the majority who do the right thing and respect our parks and other park users,” said a spokesperson. The consultation closes on 11 June.



New Redbridge Youth Hub

Screenshot 2021-05-24 at 13.59.36

To support young people who may have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Redbridge Council has launched the Redbridge Youth Hub, a one-stop virtual shop for people aged 16 to 24.

Users will have access to information and advice on employment opportunities, education, apprenticeships, training, managing money and well-being services in and around the borough.



Mobility hub to be installed on Wanstead High Street this summer

ssssThe hub will replace four parking bays on the High Street. Residents gave their backing to the scheme in a consultation earlier this year

A mobility hub designed to encourage sustainable travel will be installed on Wanstead High Street this summer.

The hub – a small-scale transport interconnection – will include an electric car club bay and an electric vehicle charging bay, as well as an outdoor seating area, cycle parking and plants.

“We’re keen to promote active travel in Redbridge, as well as supporting the transition from diesel and petrol to electric vehicles, and providing more street space for residents and local businesses,” said Councillor Jo Blackman.


Women and girls invited to share views on making Redbridge safer


Women and girls in Redbridge are invited to attend a virtual ‘listening event’ to share their thoughts on what they want and need to feel safe.

“The aim is to provide local women and girls with a comfortable space to share their experiences and their views on how our borough can be made safer, for example by identifying areas that need to be better lit or pathways that feel unsafe to walk along,” said a spokesperson for Redbridge Council, which is hosting the sessions on 2 June at 7.30pm and 9 June at 5.30pm.



Save the date: Wanstead Festival to return this September (hopefully)


Plans are being made for the return of the Wanstead Festival on 12 September, subject to government guidelines at the time.

“We’re looking forward to this year’s festival and accompanying events, including the Wanstead Fringe. It will be great for the community to come together after all the challenges of the pandemic,” said Councillor Jo Blackman.

The annual community event has been running since 2003 and attracts thousands of residents and visitors to Christchurch Green for a day of music and activities.


Wanstead Park group to consider better protection for the bluebells

Stuart_Moore_Bluebells©Stuart Moore /

The Wanstead Park Liaison Group is to discuss the latest bluebell season and consider whether anything can be done differently in the future to better protect the flowers from being trampled.

“Wren Group volunteers work hard to clear undergrowth, so the bluebells are visible, and lay paths to deter people from walking on them. It’s not surprising that people become annoyed when they see visitors behaving inconsiderately. That said, the informal barriers have been largely successful,” said a spokesperson.