A panel including developers, retail specialists and council executives, met in The Granary, headquarters of construction company Rooff, at Roding Riverside this week to discuss the ongoing regeneration of Barking town centre.
Participants considered the challenges facing town centres and Barking in particular, given the impact of the recession and internet shopping on the current offer and the future of UK high streets.
Paul Monaghan is a partner of the Allford Hall Monaghan Morris practice, architects of the award-winning Barking Central scheme, including Barking Learning Centre, which replaced a tired library and contributed to the transformation of the area around the town’s civic centre where the council offices are located.
The discussion touched on the proliferation of betting shops in all town centres, while traditional pubs are closing down.
Monaghan said: “Visits to Barking’s library increased by around four times, with it opening until 10 at night. In a conventional scheme, Sainsbury’s might have been the main anchor but in Barking town centre, it is the library that makes what was once the last place you’d go at night before it was built, to now being the place you might go at night if you were in trouble, where you feel safe.”
The round table discussion was organised by 3Fox International, publisher of BOLD magazine, and the event will be written up as a major editorial feature in the next edition, which is due to be published in January.
Graham Farrant, chief executive of Barking and Dagenham Council, chaired the discussion and those taking part were: Ian Anderson, director, Iceni Projects; Paul Monaghan, director, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris; Steve Drury, director – building and development, Rooff and host of the meeting; Lakis Pavlou, director, GVA; Olivier Soulier, deputy director, Bouygues Development; Debbie Davison, business development manager, National Skills Academy for Retail; Kiran Chahal, artist; Jeremy Grint, divisional director, regeneration and economic development, Barking and Dagenham Council; and Dave Grange, commercial director, East Thames Group.
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