Spot­light on Romford

A £35m in­jec­tion is bring­ing river­side workspace and thou­sands of new homes to this Es­sex town in the Cross­rail van­guard. By

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Property Searching -

AS ONE of Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan’s 30 Hous­ing Zones, the Es­sex com­muter town of Romford is due to get in­vest­ment of nearly £35 mil­lion from the Greater Lon­don Au­thor­ity, with the as­pi­ra­tion of un­lock­ing the fi­nance to build more than 3,300 new homes and pro­vide nearly 7,000 new jobs.

First off the block is likely to be a joint ven­ture be­tween the lo­cal coun­cil, Haver­ing, and de­vel­oper First Base, on the Bridge Close site that sits on the edge of the town cen­tre be­tween Water­loo Road and the River Rom. The plan is to build 840 new homes, a health cen­tre, a school and com­mer­cial workspaces.

Pro­pos­als in­clude a new bridge across the Rom to im­prove ac­cess to the sta­tion, where the fore­court is get­ting a £1.4 mil­lion facelift ahead of the muchan­tic­i­pated ar­rival of the El­iz­a­beth line in De­cem­ber.

As es­tate agent Max Harding from lo­cal firm Bal­go­res says, Romford is com­ing up in the world. This is in no small part thanks to young en­tre­pre­neur Sarah Wal­ters, who in a few short years has gone from jot­ting down her ideas in a note­book in her bed­room to man­ag­ing a cre­ative agency em­ploy­ing 16 peo­ple.

In those years her agency, called Made Pub­lic, has com­mis­sioned lead­ing street artists in­clud­ing Eine — for­mer prime min­is­ter David Cameron gave an ex­am­ple of his work to Barack Obama; re­vi­talised The Quad­rant, a tired shop­ping ar­cade, by en­cour­ag­ing start-up busi­nesses in­clude Lockie’s Kitchen opened by Towie star James Lock, and put on street theatre fes­ti­vals and mu­sic and com­edy events.

The Re­tail­ery in Mar­ket Place is Sarah’s small busi­ness hub. Home to a buzzy café, in­de­pen­dent restau­rants and a not-for-profit bar, it also acts as a shop win­dow for cre­ative launches, a live mu­sic venue, and in the base­ment is an en­tre­pre­neur­ial “in­cu­ba­tor” where start- ups can de­velop their ideas.

Sarah, 30, says: “I went to Gold­smiths to do Fine Art and His­tory of Art and there they drill into you that art is for ev­ery­one, so af­ter grad­u­at­ing in 2009 I came back to Romford, my home town, and asked my­self the ques­tion, ‘Where will I find ev­ery­one?’ And back came the an­swer — in the town cen­tre.”

Romford is close to the A12 Lon­don to Low­est­oft road. It is 16 miles north­east of cen­tral Lon­don with Chig­well and Brent­ford to the north, Hornchurch and Up­min­ster to the east, Da­gen­ham to the south and Il­ford to the west.

Sheila Coombes at Robins Pie & Mash Shop, Romford. There are six branches of the tra­di­tional fam­ily busi­ness in the East End and Es­sex

Richard Ward’s Ital­ian Kitchen; Jas­pal Kaur’s Jas’ Pun­jabi Kitchen, and Purvesh Pa­tel of Tad’s Diner

East is best:

Cool for cuts: Jamie La-Rocque, owner of Larox Bar­ber­shop in Quad­rant Ar­cade

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