Town centres

The Scene venue

Our aim is to support and promote retail, business, cultural, leisure and residential investment in our town centres that recognises their unique identities and invests in their future.

Waltham Forest’s town centres are the commercial and community hearts of the borough, adapting to new urban lifestyles and expectations to provide a range of activities, including shopping, social spaces, business networking and cultural activities.

Plans for growth and investment are underway to find new solutions for these growing urban centres that achieve the right mix of land uses and facilities to support existing and future resident and business communities.

Read our:

Priority actions Click to get info

Our key actions for realising this strategy are:

  1. Work with our key partners to achieve the planned investment and regeneration of Walthamstow town centre at the heart of the borough.
  2. Develop detailed plans for new centres at Lea Bridge and Blackhorse Lane.
  3. Undertake a programme of town centre heath checks, audit and action plans to support business growth, town centre management and new investment.
  4. Promote the unique characteristics of each town centre and capture the opportunities to invest and create even more vibrant centres, with a particular focus on arts, culture and music.
  5. Establish a Town Centre Initiatives Grant Fund to support new retail activity, markets, public realm improvements, arts interventions, activities and events.
  6. Adopt guidelines to support use of council and developer space for pop up shops and meanwhile uses including art and cultural installations.
  7. Review town centre retail planning policies and adapt them to support growth.
  8. Adopt a protocol for Town Centre Management setting out the standards for planning, licensing, building control and environmental health.

Bakers Arms is a small district centre situated between Walthamstow and Leyton. It has benefited from an extensive programme of shopfront and public realm improvements in the last three years, helping support the range of independent retailers and national multiples present in the centre.

Bakers Arms - Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (pdf 349KB)

Blackhorse Lane is a strategically important growth area situated within the Mayor’s Upper Lea Valley Opportunity Area.

It forms one of the council’s key regeneration areas both for housing development, employment and business growth. Blackhorse Lane has the potential to provide 2,500 new homes and 1,000 new jobs to 2025 as part of the comprehensive regeneration of the area, including new public open space, highway improvements, schools, community and shopping facilities, spaces for creative industries and links to the Walthamstow Wetlands.

The current and anticipated regeneration for the Blackhorse Lane area is supported by a strong planning policy framework which is set out in the Blackhorse Lane Area Action Plan 2015 (pdf 5,376KB).

A number of key sites are being developed for housing and mixed uses with the Housing Zone designation offering a fantastic opportunity to help unlock the barriers to further development. The Housing Zone will also provide funding to help deliver a number of regeneration projects in support of the new housing including improvements to Blackhorse Road station and public realm improvements.

Some of the key sites and projects underway or in the pipeline include:

  • Mandora development providing new homes, student housing, shops and business space
  • Gnome House which provides a landmark mix of community and business space
  • Redevelopment of the former Standard Pub to provide a mixed-use development including replacement music venue
  • Legal & General’s proposals for a private rented sector housing development next to Walthamstow Wetlands
  • Developments at Sutherland Road bringing forward a mix of affordable and private housing as well as a new health centre
  • Council and GLA support for a cluster of creative industry uses along Blackhorse Lane and Sutherland Road, including Blackhorse Workshop and proposals for Uplands House and Lockwood Way as part of the recently secured £1.1m from the GLA’s London Regeneration Fund
  • We have prepared the Sutherland Road development brief which sets out parameters for the development of the Former Webbs Industrial Estate, owned by the GLA, and adjoining sites, to provide a mix of commercial space, new homes and a walking/cycling route connecting Sutherland Road with Blackhorse Lane.

Chingford is an important district centre in the north of the borough with a range of independent shops and places to eat and drink, also benefiting from proximity to Epping Forest and access to the Overground network to Liverpool Street. We are continuing to look at opportunities to improve the use of the Assembly Hall and Library.

Chingford -Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (pdf 423KB)

We invested £750,000 in public realm and building refurbishment at Albert Crescent in 2013 and is now working with local groups to identify opportunities for further improvements for shops, businesses and to public space to increase activity in one of the borough’s largest district centres.

Community initiatives have led to an Italian farmer’s market being established in the town centre. There are further opportunities for investment and development in Chingford Mount, including at the Sainsbury’s store and adjoining Hall Lane car park.

Chingford Mount -Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (pdf 823KB)

Highams Park Click to get info

Highams Park is a small district centre with access to the Overground network and home to a range of small independent retailers as well as a large Tesco supermarket and associated mixed-use development.

We have secured £100,000 New Homes Bonus (top-slice) funding from the GLA for improvements to shop fronts and installation of an artwork in the centre of Highams Park. Alongside this we’re working with local groups on the preparation of a neighbourhood plan, potential improvements to the local park and proposals to reopen the Regal Cinema.

We have developed the Lea Bridge and Leyton Vision (Lea Valley Eastside), showing opportunities for how the area could change over the next 10 years, with the potential to deliver up to 4,000 new homes and 300,000 m2 of retained, improved and enhanced business space. 

Lea Bridge and Leyton are situated just to the north of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and on the edge of the Lee Valley Regional Park. The area provides access to significant swathes of green space and leisure facilities and has fantastic accessibility through both underground and overground rail services, including the national rail station at Lea Bridge, which reopened in May 2016, providing direct links to Stratford and Tottenham Hale.

A consultation exercise including a series of public exhibitions was carried out over an eight week period early in 2017.  We  approved the amended vision at the Cabinet meeting in June 2017. The report can be accessed here.

The Vision covers three key areas in Lea Bridge, Church Road, and Leyton and will be used to inform the Local Plan review, which is under way.


Read the email newsletter for 26th April 2019.
You can download copies of recent newsletters here:

Leytonstone is the borough's second largest town centre, benefiting from proximity to open space at Wanstead Flats and transport access via the Central Line, Overground and A12.

In recent years, we have invested in improvements to the public realm, particularly around the station and along the High Road, as well as in the recently completed renovation of Leytonstone Library Plus. This has helped encourage a mix of businesses to set up in the town centre, including a variety of places to eat and drink, as well as three distinct markets.

A place-shaping strategy has recently been prepared and will set out how we will work to secure further investment in the town centre and bring forward development of key sites, including:

  • around the Matalan store
  • around the Tesco's store
  • Church Lane car park and other sites at the underground station
  • Network Rail land at Joseph Ray Road

We have also secured £500,000 of New Homes Bonus (top-slice) funding from the GLA for shop front and public realm improvements south of Leytonstone High Road Overground Station, investing in an area which benefits from proximity to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Crossrail stations at Maryland and Forest Gate from 2019.

See plans for Leytonstone town centre in our place-making and delivery strategy (pdf 7948KB)

Section by section in detail:

Leytonstone - Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (PDF 536KB)

Walthamstow is the main town centre and a key growth area in the borough. It is also a major centre in London, benefiting from excellent transport links to central London – 14 minutes on the Victoria Line to Kings Cross and 19 minutes on the Overground to Liverpool Street, with easy access to both Stratford and Stansted Airport via Tottenham Hale. 

Walthamstow has seen some exciting changes recently. Key sites developed include The Scene, a complex with a cinema, restaurants and new homes, the Solum II Station development, with a hotel and homes, and the first phase of refurbishment of the former EMD Granada Cinema. In addition, we have invested in improving public spaces and shop fronts at the both ends of the High Street and along Hoe Street. Council-led Heritage Lottery Fund improvements to buildings and public realm at St James Street are currently underway and due for completion in summer 2017.

New activities for residents and visitors to enjoy include the council and GLA-supported Night Feast and the Central Parade, a creative workspace and business hub in the heart of Walthamstow with an in house bakery and cafe.

Future investment in Walthamstow includes the development of proposals and delivery plans for key council-owned sites such as Central Parade, Juniper House, the Town Square, including its relation to proposed Mall development, Walthamstow Library, South Grove and Chestnuts House. We have also committed to facilitating development of proposals and delivery plans for key third party owned sites, which include The Mall, EMD Cinema, Overground Station/Solum Phase 2, South Grove/ Brunner Road and Central House (Strettons).

The Walthamstow Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP) is important for the future of the town centre. It will guide and shape its development. This includes the potential for 2,000 new homes, the 90,000 sq ft. Mall extension and a mix of leisure, community and business space.

We have prepared a further place-shaping strategy to articulate how development could be brought forward.

Walthamstow - Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (pdf 441KB)


You can view previous editions of the Walthamstow Town Centre newsletter:

We have delivered a comprehensive programme of public realm, shop front and business improvements to Wood Street using a mix of funding. The district centre benefits from access to the Overground network and is home to a variety of independent retailers as well as the community arts collective Wood Street Walls whose work is seen across the borough and is working with us and GLA to secure studio space.

In late 2016, Wood Street won the ‘Great Street’ Award, an international accolade from the Academy of Urbanism. Wood Street is a fine example of how council and local resident groups and local businesses have worked together and made a real difference to the area.

The Marlowe Road estate regeneration project will see a major development at the heart of the town centre delivered by Countryside Properties working with the council.

Wood Street - Town centre strategy and delivery plans 2016-20 (pdf 525KB)