Time running out to find millions for station upgrade

A planning condition states work on the new Walthamstow Central Station entrance must start by January 2025

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

The new entrance planned as part of the 17&Central redevelopment

Time is running out to raise millions of pounds for a “much-needed” new entrance for Walthamstow Central Station.

The improvements to the borough’s busiest station form part of the redevelopment of the 17&Central shopping centre and, according to a planning condition, must begin by January 2025 if construction of the rest of the project proceeds as planned.

Work has already begun to rebuild the shopping centre, owned by Capital & Regional (C&R), and build two immense towers, 34 and 26 storeys high. While planning permission was granted to C&R, the project was purchased by developer Long Harbour for £21million last summer.

However, other than a £1.5m contribution by C&R, the cost of upgrading the station will mostly fall on cash-strapped Transport for London and Waltham Forest Council. In 2020, the council estimated the full upgrade would cost £41.5m.

TfL has since said it “remains keen” to upgrade the station but that the funding committed in 2018 is no longer available “due to budget constraints and other factors”. An application submitted to the government’s Levelling Up Fund requested £20m to “enable construction” but was rejected.

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TfL’s spokesperson added that the only way to extend the 2025 deadline to raise the money would be if Long Habour has not begun construction on a particular phase by 2025. However, as of last July, the developer expects to complete the entire project by September of that year, as it is using a modular system that is “faster” than traditional construction.

Through a planning agreement with Long Harbour, Waltham Forest Council has already raised £5.3m towards the ticket hall. As a “safeguarding option” if funding cannot be found, the council has written a “letter of comfort” to TfL, pledging a further £3.9m as an “ultimate backstop”.

A spokesperson for local group Save Our Square, which has campaigned against the redevelopment of the shopping centre, said a failure to secure the necessary funding by 2025 would be a “massive loss to the community”.

They told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The Long Harbour scheme is over 10 years old and well past its sell-by date, but the new station would be a real benefit to compensate for the damage this scheme is doing to Walthamstow.”

The spokesperson suggested Long Harbour and the shopping centre’s owner Capital & Regional should pay for the upgrade to avoid losing the opportunity.

Waltham Forest’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing and regeneration Ahsan Khan said: “TfL and the council continue to explore further funding routes to complete the much-needed new station entrance.”

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