‘Vote of confidence in Romford’ or preamble for more housing? Romford’s take on The Brewery sale
- Credit: Ben Lynch
The purchase of Romford's The Brewery by an asset management company has sparked a combination of concern and enthusiasm.
Earlier this year, it was announced the Schroders Capital UK Real Estate Fund and the Zurich Investment Foundation Immobilien Europa Direkt, which is managed by Schroders Capital, teamed up to buy the Waterloo Road shopping and leisure centre for £162 million.
Tom Woolven, investment manager for Schroders Capital UK Real Estate Fund, told this paper in an exclusive interview that it intends The Brewery to remain “an attractive destination for tenants and shoppers”.
However, he added its location within the Romford Strategic Development Area means it will be looked at to help “satisfy the rise in population”, especially given the eventual arrival of Crossrail.
Ibrahim Braimah, 35, owner of an estate agency based in Romford, said he has no real feelings towards Schroders “as business is business”.
He does, however, have concerns about what will happen to the site down the line, when he expects new plans for additional housing will be submitted.
The potential impact of further residential developments was also voiced by Lisa Louise, 48, who believes the area is already struggling with a lack of doctor appointments and school places, among other pressures.
Lisa raised issues such as parking prices and traffic as areas where improvement is needed.
"Other than that,” she said, “I think the new buyers should leave it alone.”
Andrew Curtin, chair of the Romford Civic Society, said while the group “wholeheartedly” welcomes Schroders’s attempts to make the centre greener and more energy-efficient, it is “extremely concerned” about future residential developments.
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He claimed Romford is "suffering from an excess of such uncoordinated housing development" and this "will make the town seem cramped, chaotic and dangerous".
Prospective politician David Taylor described the purchase as a "vote of confidence in Romford and our future”, although he would be “devastated if the new owners only looked at the site in the view of 'we could build flats here'”.
He added: “That said, they are talking about that being some way off and they are making positive noises about upgrading what is there.
“I sincerely hope they are not coming to make a quick buck, but to invest in our town.”