News Walthamstow

Walthamstow ‘cultural quarter’ wins £17m cash injection

‘Walthamstow Culture For All’ was awarded millions from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, reports Victoria Munro

Stock image (credit: Pixabay)

Walthamstow culture has won a multi-million cash injection from the government, despite apparent confusion on how the money will be used.

On 18th January, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities announced it had awarded Waltham Forest Council £17.2million to “restore and reimagine underused buildings in Walthamstow”.

In a document listing the successful bidders around the country, it added that the “Walthamstow Culture For All” money was intended to “offer new cultural and educational opportunities to disadvantaged communities”.

When asked to specify which underused buildings would receive the investment, Waltham Forest Council issued a press release stating the money would instead pay for “improvements to public spaces in High Street, Hoe Street and St James Street”.

These improvements, which “could include more lighting or new street furniture”, will reportedly be used “to make the town centre a more appealing, inviting place” in order to bolster the council’s vision of Walthamstow as a new “cultural quarter”.

The council’s co-deputy leader Ahsan Khan said: “I am very excited about the work that’s taking place in the town centre.

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“The upgrades will support the Soho Theatre Walthamstow project and help bring extra visitors to our borough who will bring a huge economic boost to local traders and businesses.

“In the next few years, the borough will be bustling with extra energy and creativity as it becomes not just a place but a real destination.”

The plans are reminiscent of a £1.79m facelift for Walthamstow town centre, which the council announced in January last year.

At the time, the council said the far smaller chunk of money would be spent on street lighting to make the area feel safer and a side-entrance for Soho Theatre Walthamstow.

A further £1.9m would be spent turning nearby council properties in Hatherley Mews into commercial space and accommodation for performers.

According to a recent council report outlining the future of the borough’s council-owned cultural spaces, there are a number of “underused buildings” in Walthamstow that could have been the subject of the Levelling Up bid.

These include One Hoe Street, Chestnuts House and Walthamstow’s Assembly Hall, all of which the council hopes to see reopen and start turning a profit in the coming years.

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