Bus tour takes residents back to the future

From abbeys and artists’ quarters to Ford factories and film studios, Barking and Dagenham’s history has shaped the country’s economic past and sign posts its future.

To celebrate this, Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering urban regeneration company, has launched a unique free bus tour of the borough to give an insight to why it’s London’s hottest investment opportunity.

Managing Director of Be First, Pat Hayes, said: “Be First’s mission is to accelerate growth in the borough so that we can provide homes and jobs for local people. It’s a huge task – we’re expecting to deliver 50,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs within the next 20 years.

“But to appreciate the scale and the opportunity, it’s not enough to read about it – you have to see it with your own eyes.  That’s why it’s imperative to book yourself a place on the most important bus tour in town.”

Qualified guide, Charlie Forman, leads the tour and provides a friendly and entertaining insight into the past, present and fast-evolving future of the borough.

The tour starts and finishes from Barking Town Hall and does a circuit of the borough, including the Ice House Quarter, Barking Riverside and the industrial and residential areas of dynamic Dagenham, including the soon-to-be film studio site.

The monthly tours are free to the public and can be booked on a first come, first served basis here.

Scandinavian style and traditional terraces set for new look east London estate

Be First has announced two winners of its competition to design the next phases of regeneration of Barking’s Gascoigne East estate.

White Arkitekter and HTA design consortia were selected by Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, to take forward phases 2 and 3 respectively, of one of London’s largest regeneration schemes.

Jennie Coombs, Head of Affordable Housing at Be First, said: “We had some excellent bids – more than 100 in total – and the competition was fierce.  After lengthy deliberation, however, we felt that the White Arkitekter and HTA bids both merged style and tradition with quality and substance. They set the gold standard we demand for our residents.”

White Arkitekter’s bid featured modular built Scandinavian style family apartments and smaller homes with communal gardens.

Linda Thiel of White Arkitekter said: “White is delighted to be working with Be First on this project, bringing innovative approach to the design of family housing in the centre of Barking. Our aim is to create a great place with focus on quality public realm and apartments for families, students and elderly.

“We hope that our extensive experience of off-site manufacture will contribute to the delivery and design quality of this project.”

The HTA design consortia’s proposals feature traditional terraces, mews houses and mansion blocks.

Simon Bayliss of HTA design consortia, said: “We are thrilled that our team has been selected, from a great shortlist, to develop our proposals for the ongoing transformation of the Gascoigne Estate.

“HTA, Stitch and Pitman Tozer worked together on ideas for a high density neighbourhood within a quite urban setting, made from inspiring family homes within a lively landscape of green streets and beautiful spaces. We are thrilled to have the chance to take these ideas forward to a detailed masterplan for Be First.”

The competition was launched following a review of the success of the first 421 home phase of the Gascoigne East scheme, known as Weavers Quarter, which has seen large swathes of the old estate demolished and replaced by quality new flats and maisonettes and an all-through Greatfields school.

Phases 2 and 3 will eventually deliver more than 1160 new homes in a mix of affordable rents, shared ownership and private for sale.

Jennie Coombs said: “Our next steps are to introduce the White Arkitekter and HTA design teams to residents and to begin to work through the plans.  Our ambition is for the new look Gascoigne estate to be an exemplar of London contemporary living.”