Last updated: 26 January 2023
Priority 3: our 15-minute neighbourhood
During the pandemic, we carried out extensive research to understand its impacts on our residents and to act to address them. Over 11,000 people took part in surveys, and a range of focus and research groups were held. We have linked this research with wider economic and social indicators.
Residents’ top concerns were the impact on jobs and family finances, alongside continuing worries about public safety and health.
Residents also wanted to make sure that in the longer-term we tackle the inequalities which have been highlighted throughout the pandemic and maintain a focus on the prosperity of the borough.
Priority three: Our 15-minute neighbourhood
Before the pandemic, we knew in Waltham Forest that old-fashioned concepts of cities did not always make people healthier and happier. We want everyone to be able to meet most, if not all, of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from their home. This will enable a deeper, stronger recovery from COVID-19 and to help foster the more local, healthy and sustainable way of life that many residents are calling for.
Many residents have told us about a new-found appreciation for their neighbourhood, while getting to know the nearby shops, cultural hotspots or high-quality green spaces that had always been on their doorsteps.
Residents have also expressed that they enjoyed having less traffic and air pollution during lockdown. Almost a quarter think that the Council should focus on the environment and the climate emergency in the long term.
This has underlined the need to keep developing our borough so that every one of our residents can easily access what they need to live a fulfilling and healthy life within their local area.
Our Five-Point Plan
1. Local neighbourhood life
We want to continue to revitalise local neighbourhood life as people spend more time in the borough. Residents of every neighbourhood should have easy access to everything they need to live well - including high quality local services. We will support local shops, and sustainable local deliveries through low-carbon modes of transport, such as ZED cargo bikes and electric vehicles. By creating jobs and working spaces in the borough, and developing hyperlocal cultural events, we will ensure that residents of Waltham Forest can meet most of their needs within a short walk or bike ride from their home.
2. people-friendly streets
Waltham Forest has a lot to offer, and active travel allows residents to enjoy their neighbourhoods, and stay healthy. The council’s Enjoy Waltham Forest programme has led the way, increasing walking and cycling in the borough, and improving air quality. We will go further to support active travel, shaping our urban design to enable a healthier borough, with new cycle routes and low-traffic neighbourhoods. More cycle hangars are also being installed around the borough. We will also grow our school streets programme to reduce air pollution around schools.
3. Regeneration for everyone
We will keep investing in the commercial and community hearts of our borough. By recognising the unique identities of our five main town centres and investing in their future, we will create quality spaces where residents can live, travel, shop and strengthen our communities. We will encourage the temporary use of vacant and idle spaces for innovative community-led projects with a high local impact. We will also sustainably improve homes by working with local community organisations.
4. The greenest borough
Waltham Forest is one of the greenest boroughs in London, and we want it to be even more so. We will use our green spaces to mitigate the effects of climate change. They will provide shade and natural drainage solutions to cope with heatwaves or heavy rainfalls. We will plant more trees and create new green spaces such as the landscaped gardens of Fellowship square. We will involve and empower residents more to increase biodiversity across the borough, by allowing them to deliver greening projects in public places and on public realm.
5. Celebrating culture in challenging times
Culture is more important than ever to bring people together, and address the issues we are facing in a creative way. We will continue to put culture at the heart of our regeneration work everywhere in the borough, and to invest in the legacy of our Borough of Culture year. We will invest in good quality, accessible infrastructure to support cultural activities across the borough. We are pressing ahead with the redevelopment of the former EMD Cinema on Hoe Street into a 950-seats theatre, bar and restaurant, community space, garden terrace and more.