Features

‘Improving the vibe’ in Highams Park

With support from Civic Futures, the Echo reported on how tens of thousands of Covid recovery funding was spent in the borough
By Victoria Munro

Highams Park Station (credit: James Cracknell)
Highams Park Station (credit: James Cracknell)

A company created and run by volunteers is determined to establish Highams Park as its own unique and vibrant area.

Highams Park Community Interest Company was created in 2017 by residents eager to have a say in the future of their neighbourhood.

Last year, they received £20,000 in Covid recovery funding from the Greater London Authority, co-chaired by Mayor Sadiq Khan, for projects to improve their high street.

Chair Gordon Turpin said the funding from the GLA had been used in a variety of ways, including revamping the area’s dedicated website and progressing exciting plans for the station.

He told the Echo: “We gave some to our local business group to help businesses promote themselves on social media and some of it went to the Highams Park portal.

“The portal is now quite a fancy little website and we’re very proud of it. If somebody posts on Facebook, it’s gone in five minutes so it’s better to have a more static site and it’s also much more accessible for older people.

“Every business gets a free listing and as there are new businesses arriving all the time – there’s hardly any empty shops at the moment – so we have to keep it continuously updated.

“It’s all about awareness and improving the vibe in Highams Park. We’re trying to stop people shopping online by showing them there’s stuff on their doorstep.”

Other funding was used to rent disused rooms in Highams Park Station, which will be turned into “affordable meeting rooms” for the community.

Gordon added: “It’s nice to finally have a presence in the town centre because there’s really no civic buildings here apart from the library. We just signed the lease and will hopefully be finished with refurbishment [this month].

“We’re also looking at improving the station car park. There’s a strip of derelict land where we could put some bespoke prefabricated retail units, keeping one for community pop-ups and renting the others to regular businesses to fund the pop-up.

“The money allowed us to hire an architect to do some drawings and we’re now talking to Transport for London and the council’s regeneration team.”

Find out more on the portal here.