THRILLED campaigners, determined to breathe life back into South Chingford, say the area has dramatically improved.
More than one thousand people have responded to a survey asking residents what they thought the area needed.
South Chingford resident Emma Keith started the survey on social media in August 2015.
She said: “I was pleasantly surprised to be flooded with responses. It also put me in touch with Janet Blythe, Claire Ford and Arnie Hemmes, three like-minded residents who wanted to campaign for improvements to our high street.
“It was the start of Love South Chingford.”
Since then the group has had various meetings with the council, organised continental markets, set up a planting group to clean, plant and maintain the raised flowerbeds along the Chingford Mount Road and Old Church Road, been involved in the annual spring clean event and a host of other initiatives in and around South Chingford.
Emma added: “We are really starting to see a difference and especially the top of Old Church Road is improving.
“Since the campaign started we have seen a lot of new shops opening and an end to all of the empty units that were in that part of our shopping area.
“We have seen the additions of Card Factory, Caribbean Deli, Avantgarde clothing boutique, Martha’s gifts, Avalon kitchens and bedrooms, The Larder, Lux Lighting and Belle Femme. And this is just the top end of Old Church Road, there have been other new shops opening in other parts of Old Church Road and Chingford Mount Road too.
“There is a really positive sign of change in the area. Recently I went out to get gifts for two different birthdays and managed to get some beautiful bath bombs, lovely locally made china food storage jars, handmade chocolate bars and truffles, organic ginger and pear porridge and gorgeous cards and gift boxes.
“It struck me that a couple of years ago I would have struggled to get anything like that on The Mount, but now I can.”
Claire Ford said: “Love South Chingford shows the power of local people and businesses working together to support their area.
“The community has rallied around our local high street helping to brighten it up through planting activities and specialist markets.
“We now have a strong online presence through Twitter and online forums and using our Love South Chingford website.”
Janet and Arnie, who set up the planting group, said: “Love South Chingford aims to improve the look and feel of our shopping area. The raised flowerbeds are very much part of this.
“With the help of our fantastic group of volunteers and funding from the Valley Ward we planted up the flowerbeds and we maintain them regularly. Having secured more funding recently we can now also start looking at improving street furniture and at new areas for planting.”
Larkswood Conservative Councillor John Moss said he was delighted with the improvements so far.
He told the Chingford Times: “It’s great to see more of the shops occupied and trading and to know that some of the smaller units in South Chingford have benefited from the extension of 100 per cent business rate relief to properties with rateable values up to £12,000 per annum and tapered relief up to £15,000 per annum.”
Larkswood Conservative Councillor, Millie Balkan added: “I am really pleased with how old Church Road is looking at the moment.
“There’s a lot more to come.
“We have just secured some funding for artistic projects in the area, so watch this space!”
Dates for the diary: Italian food market on Sunday June 4 and
French food market Saturday October 7, both taking place at Albert Crescent South Chingford.
For more information, Twitter: LvSthChingford, Facebook: LoveSouthChingfordE4