Community hubs open in Chingford and Highams Park stations
Two community hubs have opened in Chingford and Highams Park stations this week with Arriva Rail London (ARL) handing over the spaces to local community groups.
The unused Victorian era spaces have been renovated and transformed into dynamic community hubs using funds from Waltham Forest Council, Arriva Rail London, community groups, and lottery organisations.
Cllr Ahsan Khan, Deputy Leader for Waltham Forest Council and Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “Waltham Forest is committed to investing in Chingford and Highams Park to help communities grow and thrive. The new station community hubs are fantastic spaces that celebrate our local heritage and provide great opportunities for residents and local groups to host events and work flexibly.”
Chingford station opened in 1878, connecting central London to the then Essex village. The original layout of the station included facilities that were typical of this era, such as a station master’s house and a buffet room, where Queen Victoria herself ate a sandwich on her visit. As these facilities became redundant with changes to travel, the rooms fell into disuse.
Work by ARL began in 2021, totalling just under £30,000. The rooms were then handed over to Love North Chingford Community Interest Company to further renovate these areas in line with the community group’s plans. The group has transformed the space into meeting rooms, a co-working area for remote workers and a podcast/Zoom room.
Roger Brown, Chair at Love North Chingford, said: “Our integrated Community Hub has only been made possible by the combined efforts of Arriva Rail London, National Lottery, and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, with 2,000 hours of community effort in restoring the building at a cost of £50,000. Low running costs mean we can offer space at very low rates to encourage community development, such as our new music group.
Highams Park first opened as Hale End station in 1873. The station was renamed and redesigned at the turn of the century by William Neville Ashbee, the architect behind Liverpool Street station.
What is thought to have once been the station’s parcel office was neglected over the years, regressing to a cluttered storage room. ARL dedicated a fund of over £30,000 to initial works on the space, before handing it over to Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) to manage further refurbishment. HPPG also secured a £10,000 contribution from the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) 'High Streets for All' fund. The Station Rooms at Highams Park are now being used for a variety of local events, including a ‘repair café’ for Halloween costumes which was held in October 2022 to encourage sustainability.
Gordon Turpin, Chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), said: “The rooms are small but very centrally located and will provide a great resource for the local community – and there has already been great interest in booking the space.”
Shivani Hill, Concessions Contract Manager at Arriva Rail London (ARL), said: “These projects truly have been a labour of love for those involved. ARL is proud to support the hard work, dedication, and passion of local communities in creating spaces for people to come together.
“I am excited to announce that, as part of Arriva Rail London's (ARL) promise to support local communities, the community fund is now open for bids. We are inviting community groups to apply to enhance the area in and surrounding their London Overground station on a matched fund basis.”
Find out more about the Chingford station hub and the Highams Park station hub.
If you'd like to cycle to the station, there’ll be space to store your bike with two new cycle hubs coming to Chingford and Highams Park station soon.
From left to right: Charlotte Whitfield, Customer Experience Director at Arriva, Paul Brewer, Head of Stations at Arriva, Roger Brown of Love North Chingford, and Cllr Elizabeth Baptiste, Cabinet Commissioner for Shaping Places.