Here are some highlights from the last few years…
Clean up Nightingale Green
In May 2018 the Society held the first of our annual “clean up” days. The aim of these events is to get the community to regenerate communal areas. The Nightingale event saw over 50 local residents litter picking, planting shrubs, clearing old and dead vegetation from flower beds, painting lamp columns and removing graffiti.
The Nightingale pub kindly brought out some free refreshments, which we were very thankful for.
The day not only meant that Nightingale Green get a well needed make over, but that neighbours and residents got to know each other. The Society plans another clean up day in early May in Christchurch Park.
2010, 2015 and 2017 saw national and local elections, and the Wanstead Society was at the forefront of promoting important local issues. In May the Society held the only Q and A session in Wanstead with election candidates, which gave the public an opportunity to question political hopefuls on their plans for the future.
The event was chaired by the Headteacher at Wanstead High and attracted over 100 members of the public. One of the core aims of the Society is to lobby for Wanstead, Snaresbrook and Aldersbrook and keep a watchful eye, and work with, our elected representatives to ensure they keep the promises made on Election Day.
For many years the Corner House on the High Street/ junction with Grove Park has had wonderful floral displays throughout the year. This sterling work has been carried out by Marian Temple and her team of Wanstead Society volunteers. Their hard work keeps the garden clean, lively and blooming all year round. Without Marian and her team there would be no garden, nor would it be full of life no matter what the season. The Wanstead Society was also instrumental in saving this iconic Wanstead building from being sold off by Redbridge.
2010 saw the first of the Wanstead Societies Bi Annual Art Trails. A huge success that saw over 150 artists exhibits their work in shops and businesses along the High Street. The aim of the event, which was launched in the George Pub on the 8th September, and ran until the 26th, was to showcase local talent, but also bring people to our High Street.
This is just one example of how the society looks beyond working with developers or planners, and seeks a pro-active role in promoting the area, working with shops and businesses, and trying to showcase some of the excellent local talent we have
For many years the Society has paid for trees to be planted in Christ Church Green and along the High Street. We are delighted to say that, thanks to the Society, Christ Church Green has no more available empty spots for trees. This work means that Wanstead will continue to be a green and leafy area with a long and lasting legacy.
“Stepping Out” – working with Living Streets
Over the last 12 months the Society has worked with Living Streets, the national charity dedicated to pedestrians, to make Wanstead more “walkable”. Living Streets and the Wanstead Society came together to examine barriers to walking which included lack of information, too much street clutter and broken paving. As a result of our work, Living Streets are seeking sources of funding to tackle the problems we highlighted in addition to providing guided walks in the local area.
Save Our Hospital Campaign
On the 15th December 2010 the NHS took the decision to abolish the King George A&E and maternity units in Redbridge. In addition the remaining blood testing and physiotherapy units at the old Wanstead Hospital are under threat.
As a result, the Society joined forces with the Counties Residents Association (CRA), and its members have been campaigning hard to alter the decision of the NHS. Members have campaigned at Council Committees, direct with the Leader of the Council, in the press and at various NHS committees and meetings.
Smarter High Street Campaign & Shop Keeper of the Year
In 2009 the Wanstead Society launched the Smarter High Street Award in support of the Smarter High Street Campaign which aims to promote, and congratulate, those shops and businesses that had made a conscientious effort to improve their frontage in line with the High Streets conservation area status.
The campaign is designed to promote local businesses and raise awarness of the areas conservation area status. Many people are not aware that there are strict rules governing how a shop front must look in a high street like ours. Too many of these rules are ignored, or not upheld by the Council, so this campaign aims to protect the character of the High Street and of Wanstead itself!
In addition, the long running shop keeper of the year award is organized by the Society and given to any business that provides exceptional service to its customers and is our way of thanking the shop keepers. With Stratford City opening in the next 12 months the High Street is going to need all the friends and customers it can get, and the Society will support it in any ay we can.
Planning and regeneration
The corner stone of the Societies existence is to protect and promote the local character of Wanstead, Aldersbrook and Snaresbrook. That means ensuring that alterations to buildings are sympathetic to their surroundings and that new developments adhere to the rules of conservation areas.
One of the major successes we have had over the last year has been on the Chepstow site in Leicester Road. The Society joined forces with the Counties Residents Association in working with the developer to ensure the site id developed to high standard. The Society, with the CRA, has fought 3 planning enquiries and various planning applications to ensure the best design for Wanstead was submitted.
Projects & Campaigns from 2002-2010
Extending the conservation area
We worked with the Counties Residents Association to present a case to include the Grove Estate in the Conservation area. The Grove Estate is the heart of old Wanstead and encompasses Grove Park, The Avenue and the Counties roads. The area, including Grosvenor Road, was awarded Conservation status in March 2009.
The Corner House
Not only was this iconic Victorian house under threat, so was the Age Concern Lunch Club, who used the ground floor. We organised a petition which made it clear to Redbridge that the future of this building was of great concern. The house is now being restored, and the Lunch Club will have its favourite venue back.
We presented a detailed case against the demolition and replacement of the building with an intrusive, three-storey development. So far, we get to keep this charming stable, which used to be part of The Cuckfield pub.
Trees on The Green
Some of the trees on Christchurch Green had become damaged and diseased; we contributed funds towards new planting. Look out for the plaques which identify them.
A greener High Street
We also planted trees at the Snaresbrook end of the High Street. We lovingly watered and nurtured them and now they’re beautiful specimens, transforming what was once a barren, grey pavement.
The Cherry Tree Café garden
The Wantead Society secured funds from a local benefactor and helped other volunteers overhaul and rejuvenate the garden.
Victorian drinking fountains
The Wanstead Society pressed for funding to renovate the grade II listed fountains at both ends of the High Street.
Wanstead Police Station
The Metropolitan Police Authority decided that the Victorian red brick building was no longer suitable for requirements. We proved that their arguments had no grounds, and that the building would only need minor adaptations to continue functioning as a Police station.
It’s not all over yet… but let’s hope this building, which has parking facilities surely vital to our police, will continue to serve us.