When my family came to Walthamstow, we thought we'd finally found a place we could stay forever. But a regeneration proposal in November 2015 changed everythingby Edena Klimenti / September 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
I’ve lived in Walthamstow for over 12 years. We settled in immediately: our neighbours were exceptionally welcoming and the community felt like a large family.
After spending many years moving around London, my mother, father, younger sister and I had finally found a real home. I grew up here, spending every day after school playing in our local park with the other children. We always looked out for each other.
Walthamstow was my home, my community and my culture.
That is, until late 2015, when a multimillion-pound regeneration project was proposed and approved, changing my life forever.
This project—proposed by Waltham Forest Council in partnership with developers Countryside—promised to improve the lives of tenants.
Yet somewhere along the turmoil of gentrification that hit me and my community in Marlowe Road, that promise was compromised.
In reality, our well-being came second to the deep pockets of private developers. My home—an area so rich in culture and life, a place I’ve built memories with for over a decade—will be demolished, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Walthamstow has undergone many changes in the past four years, creating an unrecognisable environment for long-standing local communities. Commercial spaces have developed drastically, with a new cinema in the town square, new restaurants and new clothing stores—all to benefit a new crowd arriving in the area.
These new spaces will certainly improve the local economy—and therefore prove a winner for the council, who set this as one of the main goals for their regeneration programmes. However, these spaces cannot replace those which our community has relied on for so many years.
The controversial decision to move Wood Street Library, for example, will affect a place that young people have always loved. I, like many others in Walthamstow, used this library year after year, studying for GCSE’s and then A-Levels, accessing reading material and simply enjoying our local library. The Soul Project (TSP) youth space has already been closed down. This was a place which was safe for all young people; somewhere to protect, teach and assist the younger community.
The regeneration programme was advertised and glorified as a community project, essentially a way in which the children’s areas would be improved, anti-social behaviour reduced,…