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Redbridge Council's Head of Regeneration joins our 'Future of High Streets' forum

Above: Marks Barfield Architects were appointed by Crossrail and the engineers Connell Mott McDonald to carry out a parliamentary feasibility study for Ilford station, in the London Borough of Redbridge. With the emphasis on opening up new public space to create pleasant walking routes through this central area of Ilford, this project will be a principal station in the Crossrail development. Acting as a significant hub, the site will link north and south, alleviating current pedestrian/traffic bottlenecks on the Cranbrook Road whilst significantly enhancing access to the proposed bus interchange. There is also the possibility that the station will be incorporated into the DLR extension and other new transport schemes such as the ELT.

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Sharon Strutt, Head of Regeneration at Redbridge Council, will be joining our 'Future of High Streets' forum this October in London.

Sharon has significant experience in developing and delivering large and complex regeneration projects. She has a proven track record in managing extensive capital and revenue budgets, in addition to maximising public/private sector funding opportunities which attract external investment.

Council leaders, investors, planners and architects will be answering questions during the forum on whether government funding has been enough to support the recovery of high streets and town centres since the pandemic, how have retail and business outlets responded and how important have public realm improvements been and how are they linked to wider climate change challenges.

The Local Government Association last year commissioned a report from firms, Pragmatix Advisory and Trajectory, to look at the changing role of high streets and town centres and how they can become more resilient post pandemic.

The report emphasized how 'social and experiential' are now the predominant uses of high streets, as retail and functional needs are increasingly met online. Businesses on the high streets, it said, were among the most adversely impacted by the pandemic, and it was not just retail that had suffered. High streets would need to adapt with a new experiential offer to entice visitors back and be prepared for the long-term impact of new technology. It noted that technological advancements threaten to widen the digital divide between generations and groups from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Importantly, resilient high streets it stated, are green, and local authorities should consider transport, green spaces, and low-carbon supply chains in any environmental strategy.

Last year Redbridge Council announced it was installing more than 100 new cycle racks offering safe and secure parking spots for bicycles to encourage more eco-friendly trips to local high streets and nearby amenities. The move came as part of the council’s commitment to developing the borough’s cycling infrastructure to support local people to adopt greener and healthier travel choices.

In 2021 Redbridge Council stated that high streets were to get 'a make-over' alerting local businesses to new grants to help them improve their premises post-pandemic. It was part of the Council's 'Love Your High Street' initiative. New planters were installed with bee-friendly plants that help reduce emissions in the air.


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