Plans unveiled for affordable artists’ house backed by Grayson Perry

Consultation has opened this week on plans, backed by Turner prize winner Grayson Perry, to build innovative and affordable homes for artists in Barking town centre.

The proposal for the £3.5 million ‘artists’ house’ has been developed by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, together with partners Create London. It will see 12 below market rate apartments constructed in Linton Road, Barking to provide homes for artists with workshops and a community arts space.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director for Be First, said: “Barking is fast becoming London’s hotspot for the creative industries which are being priced out of the capital, thanks to sky high rents in Hackney, Haggerston or Hoxton.

“This truly inspiring and affordable new development will allow artists to flourish here, to engage with local people and to strengthen to the fast-growing creative industries in this borough.”

Grayson Perry, who will help to develop a programme of activity for the artists, said: “This is a golden opportunity for artists who want to work with the public, with lovely studios available for six years. With the right artists working in a real place with real people, who knows where it will go? It’s a new artistic model.”

Hadrian Garrard, Director of Create London, said: “Barking has huge potential for providing space for artists and creative businesses in a way that really benefits local people and our hope is that this project provides a template for others to follow”.

The new proposals will be subject to planning approval by Barking and Dagenham Council and are open for consultation until 21 May.  A decision is expected in the late spring and, if successful, artists will be invited to apply over the summer.

The application can be viewed here or in the Be First offices.

Comments can be made online or by emailing

325 homes to be built on former Ford car park

Plans to build over 300 homes on a former Ford car park in Dagenham were given the green light by Barking and Dagenham Council on Monday 23 April.

The proposals from Aviva Life and Pensions Ltd for their development at Merrielands Crescent feature 325 flats with a mixture of tenures including 35 per cent at sub market rates.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, said: “By giving the green light to these plans we’re making sure affordable homes are made in Dagenham.”

The development will provide 116 sub-market units of which 55 will be rented at London Affordable Rent levels while 61 units will be shared ownership.

It also includes children’s play space and communal areas, landscaped courtyards and roof terraces.

Be First’s setting its Gold standard

Five Architects and Master planners have been shortlisted by Be First in its competition to find a team to design the next phase development of the Weavers Quarter regeneration scheme and review the Masterplan for the later phases of development.

The five shortlisted companies are; PRP Architects, HTA Design consortia, Hawkins Brown Architects, Coffey Architects and White Arkitekter.

Jennie Coombs, Head of Affordable Housing at Be First, said: “We have been delighted by the response and the quality of the submission.

“It made the job of getting through the amount of entries to a few companies very hard but we are confident we have an excellent shortlist.”

Be First decided to review the next phase of the Weavers Quarter scheme, which has seen large swathes of the old Gascoigne East estate demolished and replaced by quality new flats and part of a new secondary school. Phase I is nearly completed and will eventually see over 420 new homes, retail outlets and the completion of Greatfields School. Over half of Phase 1 is already completed and first residents moved in to their new homes in the middle of March.

Jennie said: “The first phase has already been shortlisted for awards and the design and quality is excellent.

“But Be First is all about not resting on our laurels, we’re looking at how we can continually improve and entrench excellence.

“With this competition we’re trying to establish a template for future developments in the borough.
“We want to create a gold standard for high quality designed developments which can be built conventionally or off site, be truly affordable and attractive to look at.”

Ed lured by Barking and Dagenham’s eastern promise

Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, has secured its interim Development Director on a permanent basis.

Ed Skeates, who joined the east London company last summer, said Barking and Dagenham offered unrivalled opportunities for growth in London.

He said: “This was always going to be an exciting role as the borough has the critical ingredients of ambition, geography and economics.

“My initial intention was just to stay for the early phase but now that I am able to see, and have been able to help construct, the architecture of this business, I can’t think of anywhere else that offers this amount of potential.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “Securing Ed’s services is vital to our drive to step up the pace of development and deliver inclusive regeneration in Barking and Dagenham.

“We have come a long way since we officially started business in October and Ed has played a major part in our success, leading our work to select a film studio partner and directing our property acquisition and investment portfolio.

“But we are not standing still, and we will shortly be searching for more talent like Ed to join us.”