Help us revitalise our riverside

Residents and businesses have been asked to give their views on a masterplan to transform industrial land in and around Barking Creek and the River Thames.

The outline plans look to breathe new life into the area around River Road and Thames Road in a bid to boost business growth, deliver modern industrial buildings, new homes and create a new vibrant, sustainable community.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Social Housing and Regeneration, said: “Barking and Dagenham’s potential for progressive growth is almost boundless.

“And the area around Barking Creek and the Thames is ripe for regeneration – but it has to benefit local people and businesses, which is why it’s crucial residents and local employers get involved in this consultation.”

The consultation runs from 1 December 2020 to 26 January 2021.

To comment on the plans (the River Road Employment Area (and Kingsway Industrial Estate) Supplementary Planning Document), please go to

New homes and better green spaces will be massive boost for Marks Gate

The council approved plans from Be First to build affordable new homes at Marks Gate last night (30 November).

The members of the planning committee voted to support the application for permission to build the first phase of 81 high quality, affordable homes for the council, and approved the construction of up to 219 more in principle.

They also agreed to a number of conditions which would see added benefits coming to the community including a contribution towards improving local bus services.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, said: “This is great news for the thousands of people on the council’s housing list. It will provide desperately needed homes for local people at rents they can afford.

“In addition to the new homes the development will provide a brand new park, orchards and improved access to a lake which will provide a green open space residents can enjoy.”

The other main features of the plan are:

  • 100 per cent of the new homes will be affordable homes with rents starting at £159 a week
  • top environmental standards – with solar panels and lots of insulation to keep fuel bills low, and
  • use of modern construction methods to speed up the building process and minimise inconvenience to existing residents.
  • creation of an attractive linear park with a range of uses – from adventure play areas to orchards
  • upgrade the lake and the area around the lake to increase biodiversity and to make it more accessible for everyone, especially elderly and disabled people.

The plans will now be submitted to the Mayor of London, and his team will scrutinise the application and give a final decision early next year.

Further details here.

Unique ‘One Borough’ development gets green light

A development at Brocklebank Lodge in Becontree Avenue which will feature 53 new homes for local residents, including 15 for people who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), was hailed by the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, as highly innovative.

Cllr Rodwell said: “Housing needs for people with ASD are unique and not easily met, often we have to house these residents outside the borough.

“But thanks to these plans we can make sure people with ASD stay in the borough and closer to their families, while living in a modern and bespoke home which meets their needs.

“This development is a borough first and shows our commitment to social inclusion and that we truly are one borough.”

Marcia Kirlew, Development Manager at Be First, who will be managing the development, said: “Be First is not just about bricks and mortar, we not only build quality homes for local people, we also build communities too.”

The remaining 38 homes will be made available to local people at below market price rent

The plans will involve the demolition of Brocklebank Lodge a former old people’s home.

We’re still building great homes and places for working people

A plan to build high quality, below market price homes, a community space and a nursey on the site of a former Royal British Legion (RBL) hall and adjacent flats has been agreed by Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee.

The 64 new homes will replace the existing 18 flats on Jervis Court and the ex-RBL land on Rectory Road, Dagenham.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, said: “A hundred years ago after the First World War this borough became famous for building homes fit for heroes at Becontree Heath.

“The decision shows that today, we are carrying on this proud tradition of building great homes for working people.”

The new homes range from one-bedroom flats to three and four-bedroom maisonettes and town houses with rents, starting from £159 a week.

The development also features:

  • 17 high quality family size homes
  • 644m2 of community space
  • A nursery for local residents
  • South-facing landscaped treelined courtyard
  • 110 cycle storage spaces

Sarah Beth Riley, Associate Architect at Be First said: “This development is a successful addition to the streets of Dagenham as it places community at the heart of design. It has all the right ingredients for joyful family life.”

Paul Karakusevic, Partner at Karakusevic Carson Architects, said: “Having worked closely with Be First and the local community over the past 12 months, we are delighted that planning has been approved for Jervis Court, a project which will form an important part of the wider programme of building high-quality, affordable homes in Dagenham.

“Family sized housing in new projects is vital to local communities, and as such, the scheme provides 17 family sized dwellings, several in a carefully considered terrace of townhouses, as well as providing space for a creche and community space.

“All homes will be dual aspect and have access to their own private outdoor space as well as a beautiful south facing communal garden.”

The existing tenants and leaseholders will be offered the Right to Return and the council will support the tenants to find alternative homes that meet their housing needs.


*London Affordable Rent price for 2020/21.



Homes for local homeless families to be completed in record time

New factory-made homes were delivered to Barking and Dagenham last week as part of a project to house local homeless people.

The 20 two-bedroom modular homes will be finished off by Jerram Falkus, at a former garage site in Wivenhoe Road, Barking and are set to be completed in 30 weeks.

Cllr Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, who visited the site said: “These new homes will be for local families who are on our council waiting list and are yet to be given a permanent home, so they can still remain in the borough and close to family and friends.

“By using the latest modular technology we can build at pace so we can put a roof over their heads more quickly.”

Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing said: “The housing situation is not getting any easier in these current times and now more than ever it’s so important we deliver quality housing more quickly to house local families.” 

Martin Andvik, Construction Manager at Be First, said: “The use of modern modular construction has allowed for these new homes to be built and delivered in record time, matching the council’s ambition to provide homes for people in need.”

Peter Bowtell, Jerram Falkus’ Construction Director said: “It is great to see the delivery of the first units at Wivenhoe Road, our second modular housing project for Be First and Barking and Dagenham. By using offsite construction we are able to deliver these new homes faster and more efficiently to the client, on what would be a challenging site to develop using standard construction methods.”    

The development is due to be completed in February 2021.



Movies will be Made in Dagenham

Barking and Dagenham Council today signed an agreement with global media real estate leader Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) to build London’s largest film and TV production centre in Dagenham.

Eastbrook Studios London will be the capital’s largest studio campus. The project comes with planning permission, and HCP’s ambitious plans include up to 12 sound stages, three acres of backlot, offices and ancillary space, totalling over half a million square feet.

HCP’s hundreds of millions in direct investment will also involve an endowment to maximise local jobs, placements, apprenticeships, community outreach and supply chain opportunities.

The studios will be a major boost for the borough, the entertainment industry and the capital, creating an estimated 1,200 jobs, contributing £35m per year to the local economy and inspiring more development into thriving East London. The capital has a hugely successful film and TV industry and, with more than £3.6bn spent in the UK last year on film and high end television production, it will play a key role in London’s economic recovery. Following work by Film London and the British Film Commission to help the industry through the pandemic, it is currently estimated that over 85 per cent of film and TV production is running again, supporting more than 100,000 jobs, with the majority in London and the South East.

The UK is one of the most sought after countries in the world for major feature film and high-end television production. The Dagenham site will add much needed sound stage capacity to the overall industry.

You can watch the announcement here.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “Today we’re making history.  Dagenham used to be famous for factories and Fords but in the future, we will be equally famous for making films. It’s not for the glamour or glory. It’s about bringing in thousands of jobs, providing education and training opportunities for local young people, and giving people hope in these gloomy Covid times.

“So, I am hugely proud to announce HCP as our partner. They are the right people at the right time. It’s the ‘reel deal’ for our borough, London and the UK.  Movies will be Made in Dagenham.”

Michael Hackman, CEO Hackman Capital Partners, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Councillor Rodwell and his team to bring this exciting project to fruition. Together with the diverse and talented people of Barking and Dagenham, our investment will help write the script for the next iteration of ‘Made in Dagenham’”.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: “This is a very special moment for Dagenham, our capital and all those who have been working hard to realise this bold vision of bringing new world-class film studios to East London. It is a very significant investment and boost to our economy that will create 1,200 jobs, inspire further development and creative opportunities, and secure our position as a global capital for film and TV. We are already seeing that the success of this industry will help our economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and these studios will play a key role in our city’s future.”

Jason Hariton, Chief Real Estate Officer, The MBS Group, said: “These new world-class production facilities in East London will quickly deliver significant and necessary additional infrastructure to meet the demands of the UK’s booming creative industries, while creating generational opportunities for the local community.”

Claire Symonds, Acting Chief Executive of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “We’re thrilled to take another step closer to bringing this new film studio to life. We’re really looking forward to welcoming HCP to the borough and working with them to make this a reality. When we took the decision to set up our pioneering urban regeneration company, Be First, to accelerate the pace of growth in the borough, it was precisely this kind of transformative project that we wanted them to deliver with us and the private sector. There’s no doubt that welcoming a world-class film studio to Dagenham East will support the long-term success of the UK’s booming film and TV production industries. The studio will not only boost our local economy, benefiting local people by creating 1,200 much needed jobs, it is also expected to pump £35 million a year back into the UK economy.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, said: Having received some really strong bids from very experienced parties in the industry, we decided “Hackman Capital Partner’s proven, track record, global reach and strong relationships with major content providers made them the outstanding choice. HCP not only understand our desire to build world class studios in Dagenham they also understand their social responsibilities with their commitment to work with the community to create quality jobs and opportunities for local people.”

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “This investment is fantastic news for the screens sector, for east London and for the UK. It’s a real vote of confidence in our industry’s ability to return to the growth we saw prior to the pandemic and exceed it in coming years. With our industry COVID Guidance in place, over 85% of high-end UK productions are safely starting up again, creating the outstanding content audiences are craving. Hackman Capital Partners bring extensive industry expertise of building and running studios around the world and will be a significant additional asset to the UK Film and TV infrastructure ecosystem. Today’s announcement is proof that the private investment climate is resilient and bold decisions such as this will further bolster London and the UK’s world-class studio offer, supporting economic growth and creating new jobs.”

Chris Berry, Director of Real Estate Advisory, Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “This project started when the studio market was in its absolute infancy. The Council deserves a tremendous amount of credit for their foresight, drive and determination in the face of widespread scepticism.

“The acceleration in investor interest in the sector in the last year has been incredible and we are delighted to have played a part in now making the project a reality.”

The site will be leased to HCP on a 250-year basis.  Building work is set to start next year and filming could start as early as mid-2022 with the studio fully operational by 2023.

Modular is marvellous says council leader

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has described 13 new modular council owned homes in Barking as ‘marvellous’ following a tour of a show flat this week.

Cllr Rodwell said: “There’s a myth that modular homes are just a cheap type of prefab but from what I have seen here today at Sugden Way, nothing could be further from the truth.

“These new flats look absolutely marvellous and will provide well built, top quality homes for local people.”

The new homes were manufactured in a Dorset factory by Rollalong and are being built in Sugden Way, Barking, as part of a development managed by Be First for Barking and Dagenham Council.

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First said: “At Be First we’re embracing the latest technology to build top quality new homes fast and deliver them at rents the people of Barking and Dagenham can afford.”

Clive Harris, Construction Manager at offsite modular manufacturer Rollalong, said: “This is a very exciting project which will provide a range of high-quality, affordable housing for people in Barking and Dagenham, and we’re delighted with our progress so far.

“There is a shortage of housing in the borough and our modular alternatives to traditional construction offer a real opportunity to address the shortfall in approximately half the time.”

The new homes will be completed next month. They feature one, one bed flat, eight two bed and four three bed flats.

You can here the discussion between Cllr Rodwell and Iain Ferguson here.

Call to creatives – design our heritage mural

Be First has joined forces with The National Lottery Heritage Fund to offer a £20,000 commission to an artist, or artists, to create a heritage mural in Short Blue Place, Barking.

The plans to commemorate Barking’s forgotten history were hatched by local heritage volunteers who have been researching the area’s lost history.  They have unearthed information about the development of the town since the earliest times, through the town’s emergence as a centre for fishing and farming and the building of the famous Abbey in AD666, up to modern times.  On the way, they have examined the history of many of the buildings that have been demolished, such as the Windmill, the Tudor Leet (court) House and, more recently the workhouse and Bascule Bridge.

Heritage group coordinator, Simone Panayi, of Be First, explains: “Our heritage volunteers have helped to reveal just how rich and varied Barking’s history is, and we want to create a permanent reminder for everyone to enjoy, and that will attract visitors to the town centre.

“We’ve surveyed local residents, to see what they are most interested in, and now we want someone with creative flair to create a stunning mural or similar artwork, incorporating this ’Lost Heritage’ theme at Short Blue Place.

“So, we’re delighted that we have backing of The National Lottery Heritage Fund to offer a commission to our very talented artistic community”.

The successful artist, or artists, will be expected to design, create, and install the heritage wall and linked interpretation, potentially including an art trail, to a professional standard.

Further details and the brief for the project are available at  Applications must be received by 30 November 2020.

Dagenham film studios project moves forward

The development of London’s largest films studios is set to be considered at Barking and Dagenham Council’s cabinet this month (20 October).

A report drawn up by the council’s regeneration arm, Be First, recommends that the most effective way to deliver a world-class film and TV production centre in Dagenham would be to lease the site to a studio operator on the proviso they build and manage the studios.

This comes after extensive discussions with potential bidders and industry experts and the formal granting of planning permission for the studios last month.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said the proposals offer the best way to deliver the transformational project.

He said: “Demand for film production facilities in the UK remains incredibly high, so it’s not surprising we received a great deal of interest in the Dagenham studios project.

“We received very strong bids to develop the studios and following evaluation, we are recommending the council agrees a long lease to the best of these operators.”

If the cabinet agrees to the proposals the council’s chief operating officer will be given authority to lease the land to the preferred bidder.

A further announcement on who the Council will lease the land to will be made in November if Cabinet agrees to the proposals.


Council Leader visits innovative project turning historic building into housing

The conversion of a former convent in Dagenham into new housing is beginning to take shape and the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell visited the site this week to see how work was progressing.

Cllr Rodwell was joined by Iain Ferguson of Be First and Paul Hart of Murphy Group who are refurbishing the Sacred Heart site into 29 homes for rent at below market price.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to see the Sacred Heart convent still retaining its character while having a new lease of life as housing for local people. The 29 new homes will give an opportunity to local people and families to find a place to live at a reasonable rent.”

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First said: “I am pleased to see the redevelopment of Sacred Heart coming along so nicely. At Be First we’re determined to build not only homes local people can afford, but also homes they can be proud of, and this sensitive conversion of an historic building reflects our commitment to excellent design.”

Paul Hart  said: “As a family-owned company that works in line with our values, we always try and support the communities where we work. We’re really pleased to be involved in this project that does exactly that, and one that will retain the historic character of the Convent when it’s completed its transformation into new homes for local families.”

The development in Goresbrook Road, Dagenham will see the refurbishment of the disused former convent into nine new flats and the construction of 20 new homes around the original building.

The development is due to be completed by September 2021.