A COFFEE shop owner says it is "absurd" her street was named in the best in the UK because it is plagued by gangs and litter.

Enitan Akinde, who runs Old Station Yard Cafe, in Wood Street, Walthamstow, was left surprised when it won the Academy of Urbanism award.

The 54-year-old mother-of-two, who also lives on the road, says she once found cat litter dumped outside her door.

She said: “This cannot be the best street in the UK. The more I hear of it the more I find it absurd and ridiculous.

“There are people who cause disturbances and there are gangs hanging outside betting shops and I am wary to leave my children out at night."

READ MORE: Volunteers launch campaign in Wood Street to raise spirits after shots fired at cars

The winner was announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday, November 16.

The judges praised the street’s efforts to heal the wounds from the 2011 riots in Walthamstow.

When the Plaza in Wood Street is taken away to make way for 436 new flats, there are fears this could drive a wedge in the community.

It could take up to seven years for a similar public events space to be built.

Ms Akinde added: “The fountains come on in the summer and it is full of children playing and parents love it but now it is going.”

Graham Hodgkiss, who is chairman of Wood Street First, said gangs regularly hang outside of betting shops in Wood Street.

He said: “The gangs are a problem for shoppers and local businesses because people are uncomfortable walking down the street and will choose to shop elsewhere.”

He added: “I think Wood Street absolutely deserves the award and it is brilliant. It highlights what can be done within a community.

“We organised events in Wood Street Plaza and really brought people together and we established the plaza as a community focus point.

“But now we are so disappointed that after working so hard to build cohesion the plaza will be taken away.”

Chairman of the Academy for Urbanism, Steven Bee, said: “Recovering from the riots of five years ago, the local authority and community representatives have worked hard to reshape and redefine Wood Street as a successful, safe and attractive local centre.

Cllr Clare Coghill, cabinet member for economic growth and high streets said: “Wood Street has a fantastic range of shops and facilities and a wonderful community of spirit, so it’s great to see it getting recognised as the great street that it truly is.

“The council has invested heavily in our town centres in recent years, and Wood Street is a fine example of where we spent our own money but also attracted significant external funding for improvements which have really made a difference to the area.”