IDEAS to regenerate Barkingside town centre were unveiled at a public meeting last night.

Around 100 residents turned up to have their say on the £2.1million project which will see life injected back into the high street.

Project architect, David Knight from DK-CM showed residents what Barkingside could look like by March 2014.

The project will focus on developing the area around Fullwell Cross library by creating an outdoor space, creating a town square between the library and the leisure centre which could host markets, developing the corner of  Virginia Gardens and the high street, improving shopfronts and connecting Barkingside with surrounding areas like Fairlop Waters.

Deputy chairman of the Barkingside Traders' Associaton and owner of Toyology in High Street, Gary Diamond, attended the meeting in Fullwell Cross Library and described it as a success.

He said: "I don't think you would do all this without having something at the end of it.

"Everyone was talking about different things but ultimately the same thing - to get Barkingside looking better.

"The plans are looking very good and moving in the right direction."

It is hoped the regeneration of Barkingside will pull in big high street names to the area and encourage people to start spending more time on the high street rather than just popping down.

The project is funded by a £1.9million grant from the Greater London Authority and a £200,000 contribution from Redbridge Council.

Community group Barkingside 21 has worked closely with the council on the plans.

Member Allan Howe said: "It's all about putting the bells and whistles on the ideas now.

"We had the usual moans about people not wanting more takeaways and charity shops, but there isn't a lot which can be done about that."

Chairman John Sharrock said: "I really felt that what the architects were doing was like there are one or two things that we can do, but here is a blank sheet and we are looking to you to fill in the gaps.

"But when hardly any ideas were put forward from the floor, it was disappointing."

Ideas bounced around at the meeting included introducing free WI-FI in the high street and encouraging outdoor performances by having a stage in the town square.

The architects will bring firm plans for residents to see on November 29 in Fullwell Cross Library at 7.30pm.

The regeneration work is due to begin in March and if everything runs to plan will complete by March 2014.

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