On Wednesday afternoon I went with other Newham Councillors for a tour of the new Shopping centre Westfield in Stratford. This is my first visit to the site. It is due to open next month and I think you cannot fail to be impressed by the development itself and the opportunities it will offer the borough.
The centre is right next to the Olympic Park and will be the biggest City shopping centre in Europe. Over 1.9 million sq ft, 300 units including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer's. As well as 70 new bars and restaurants. You can commute from Stratford to St Pancras, central London in less than 10 minutes. I don't really think that all of us who live or work in Newham have quite realised the enormous impact that the Centre and the Olympic Park will have on our lives.
Update: check visit pics on facebook here
Stand by for traffic chaos when it opens - people drive to these places and they often all come out at the same time. They also shift the focus of crime - shoplifting there can remove police from other streets.
There is a downside to everything but this is a fantastic opportunity not only for Newham but for the whole of East London.
There are of course the 1,000's of jobs (many of which have been reserved for the long term unemployed) but this high quality development will attract further investment and regeneration.
Together with the Olympic Park and what is going on in the rest of Newham then perhaps finally East London will stop being disadvantaged relative to the rest of London.
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