Current projects

Wanstead Art Trail 2010

We are delighted to tell you that work is underway to bring the first ever Art Trail to Wanstead this coming September. The trail will be launched at the Wanstead Festival on Sunday 19th September and will run for 8 days, until the end of Sunday 26th September.

Work from local artists will be exhibited at shops and venues in and around the High Street and it will be a chance for visitors to appreciate the wealth of artistic talent flourishing in our area. We also hope to increase footfall to the High Street to support our local businesses through these tricky economic times. Nearby schools are even getting involved and will be exhibiting works so this really is a community effort.

For further information email

The Smarter High Street Campaign

Last year we launched our campaign for a better-looking High Street. We believe – and trade figures prove – a handsome high street attracts shoppers and enhances business.

Wanstead’s best advertising is its character. Unfortunately, over the years, a lack of attention has led to our high street looking like the poor relation when compared with other conservation areas.

With Stratford City – a shopping centre bigger than Bluewater – about to appear, we urgently need to promote Wanstead to keep it thriving. Click here for The Smarter High Street Campaign website.

New Trees for Wanstead

The Wanstead Society wants to make sure that funds raised through membership are re-invested for the benefit of the community and for the last few years has sponsored the planting of new trees around Wanstead. 
This planting season we have received matched funding from the London Borough of Redbridge for another 10 trees from a variety of species which will soon be spreading their roots in Christchurch Green – keep an eye out towards the end of November for the new additions. 
You may have also noticed some new trees at the Snaresbrook end of the High Street.  There are approximately 20 new trees in total, including silver birches, London planes and a Turkish hazel, all helping to transform the more barren end of our High Street.  Again, Redbridge Council has matched our contribution pound for pound. 
If you know of any spots that might benefit from some new plant life please feel free to offer your suggestions.

About The Wanstead Society

The Wanstead Society is an independent, non-political organisation that works to protect, preserve and improve our local area.

Our committee meets every month, where a range of issues is discussed. The agenda may include planning applications, conservation matters, street enhancements or other community affairs.


Investigating planning issues

We check planning applications monthly and, when necessary, put forward our views to the council and attend public enquiries.

We promote good conservation practices, applying pressure for enforcement where appropriate, particularly to listed buildings and those within conservation areas. Historic buildings at risk are referred to English Heritage.

We organise meetings with Redbridge Planning Chiefs, officers and Councillors.

Green spaces

We promote the appreciation of our green spaces and trees, Wanstead’s greatest assets. One of our ongoing projects is making sure our trees are well managed and will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Our committee members have put much work into the gardens at The Corner House and The Cherry Tree Café.


We fight for services and amenities that are under threat.

We champion local businesses with such schemes as our Shopkeeper Award.


The Cuckfield Garage

Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.

Protesters rejoice as garage is saved

A GROUP of determined campaigners are celebrating after winning their fight to save an historic Edwardian coach house from the wrecking ball.

The future of the Cuckfield Garage in Wellington Road, off Wanstead High Street, had been reserved after the Planning Inspectorate turned down an application to demolish the building and replace it with shops and flats.

The property, which is currently used as a hand carwash, was originally built to provide stabling for horses owned by customers at the former Cuckfield Hotel, during the 19th Century.

Residents in the road joined forces with the Wanstead Society to oppose a plan by developers, Belgrave Properties, to build six apartments and commercial units on the site – which is part of the Wanstead Village conservation area.

The scheme was rejected by the council, but protesters feared the developers might win planning permission on appeal – and were relieved when the Planning Inspectorate finally turned it down.


Paul Turner, who has lived opposite the garage for 15 years, was delighted with the decision, but is still concerned about what the building will be used for in the future.

He said: "Of course I’m delighted that the building has been saved, but the question now is what they will do with it.

"It is a carwash now, and that’s fine, but it needs to be properly protected, and maybe listed.

"It is full of period features like cobbled floors and a hay loft, and we don’t want these things to be lost."

Andrew Wernick, of the Wanstead Society, said he hoped the decision would make developers think twice about applying to demolish buildings in the area.

He said: "This is fantastic news for all of the people involved in trying to stop the demolition.

"I hope this sets a precedent to stop these developers trying to make unnecessary changes to our built environment."

In his report the planning inspectorate wrote: "Even though the Conservation Area boundary does not cover the entire Cuckfield Garage site, the structure as a whole contributes to the character and setting of the area. The overriding objective is to preserve or enhance it.

"As the proposed redevelopment would conflict with that objective, there is a strong persumption against the grant of planning permission."

Belgrave Properties was unavailable for comment.

Pictured: Peter Sandy, Michele Ruffray (whose family used to own the garage), Maurice Hill, Deborah and Paul Turner and Andrew Wernick.

The Cherry Tree Café garden

From the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.

Going green: Volunteers unite to create luscious urban oasis

A team of green-fingered volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help create a vibrant new community garden in Wanstead.


Members of The Wanstead Society joined forces with staff and customers at the Cherry Tree Café, in Woodbine Place, to turn its untidy backyard into a luscious green oasis.

The hardy gardeners worked for ten tiring hours, planting a wide range of flowers and shrubs at the site, which wil be opened for use by the entire community.

The café is open to the public and run by a mixture of paid council staff, and volunteers – many of whom have learning difficulties – who gain valuable catering experience by helping to cook, and by serving customers.

Work on the garden halted only briefly for lunch, when the hungry workers got the chance to tuck into a tasty meal prepared and cooked by café staff.

Volunteer, Katriye Ibrahim, of The Wanstead Society, said she was delighted to have made a contribution to the garden.

She said "It was really fun helping out, and we are all so pleased with the way the garden looks.

"We were grateful to get a delicious lunch cooked for us because it was very hungry work.

"The Wanstead Society wants to play an active role in making Wanstead greener, and this work was part of that.

"We have planted some sweet chestnuts and elm trees in Christchurch Green recently and plan to plant another eight in the near future."

The Cherry Tree Café is open to the public throughout the week serving hot and cold food.

Jennings Bet illuminated sign

Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.

Residents fear bookies gearing up for round two

A GROUP of angry residents have accused a betting shop of ruining the look of Wanstead High Street by erecting a ‘garish’ illuminated sign without planning permission. Jennings Bet was told to remove the back-lit sign after members of the Wanstead Society complained that it broke conservation area rules, and had not received council consent. The firm applied for permission retrospectively but was turned down after the council upheld the complaints of residents.

Andrew Wernick wrote to the council to complain on behalf of hundreds of Wanstead Society members. He welcomed the council’s decision to refuse planning permission but said he feared Jennings, which has six months to appeal against the ruling, will continue to display the sign anyway.

He said: “They still have the sign up, and it looks terrible. It doesn’t fit in with the look of the rest of the High Street at all. “The sign looks really garish, and makes this part of the road look like the grotty streets you see in other parts of London. “Conservation area rules say any alterations must preserve or enhance the look of the area, and this does neither of those things. “They broke the rules, but have kept the sign up, so what kind of signal does that send to other shops in the area?”

It is not the first time the betting shop has courted controversy, with many residents opposing its opening in March – claiming that because the High Street already had two bookmakers and it did not need another.

Colin Wilkinson, of Blake Hall Road, called for action to be taken to remove the sign. He said: “If they have broken the rules they should be made to take the sign down straight away, not be given time to appeal.

“What’s the point of having rules in place in the first place if people think they can get away with breaking them.”

Greg Knight, chairman of Jennings Bet, said: “This is an on going situation which is being dealt with.
At this stage we have no comment, other than our initial application has been refused, the decision of which we are appealing against.”