St Modwen won the contract to develop the Arcade site in 2007, after an earlier scheme failed to get off the ground. The developer was due to buy the site from the council, then privately fund construction. But the recession meant that St Modwen could no longer do this. Instead, in March, the council cabinet voted to stick with St Modwen but use £35 million of public money to fund the scheme. In doing so, the council broke EU procurement rules that say large publicly funded projects must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
The council will now have to put the entire site out to tender to developers again, and plans for the site may change for the fourth time. Originally, the site was to feature a library. Then a Primark, 18-storey tower and cinema. And more recently a tower block, hotel, cinema and swimming pool, to replace the one at Walthamstow Pool & Track.
Fight The Height want the site grassed over and used as a park until market conditions pick up. Meanwhile the council should concentrate efforts on finding a way to return the EMD into use as the local cinema and use a much smaller amount of public money to refurbish the Pool & Track.
For more on this story read the Waltham Forest Guardian's report (and the countless comments on it) and the response from cinema campaigners.