Looking to Be First at cycling

Barking and Dagenham’s regeneration company Be First has announced its sponsorship of Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club as part of its drive to improve the life chances and opportunities of local people.

Be First, has backed the club with £6,000 to help get more young people into cycling.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “Barking and Dagenham cycling club is a model of how sport can transform the lives of expectations of young people who may not have the greatest opportunities in life.

“They enable young people to get fit, build their self confidence and channel their energies in a constructive way.

“Young people who would have never normally had the opportunity to become competitive cyclists have progressed through the club into the higher levels of the sport, while others have had life changing experiences as a result of racing.

“Increasing opportunity and diversity in the sport is key to the progression of cycling in the UK.

“We are keen to enable people from a wide range of backgrounds and particularly young women and people from ethnic minorities to get involved in one of the most exhilarating and physically demanding sports.

“There is no reason that one day the club can’t produce a cyclist to rival the footballers the borough is already famous for.

“And wouldn’t it be great if a future winner of the Women’s Tour was made in Dagenham?”

Russell Coe, of Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club said: “The club is now ranked in the top third of British clubs and with the support of Be First we will be able to give even more young people the opportunity to take part in competitive cycling and develop themselves as sports women and men.”

The announcement of the sponsorship comes after hundreds of local people attended a time trial event at Barking Riverside last weekend.

Members of the team attended the event which was part funded by Be First alongside Barking Riverside London.

Nick Davies, transport officer for Be First, said: “It was fantastic day with glorious sunshine making it a real fun atmosphere and I feel the event has given a real boost for encouraging more residents and especially young people to get into cycling.”

Earlier this year Transport for London figures revealed nearly 1,800 adults have attended cycle skills training in Barking and Dagenham.

Barking and Dagenham CC and Vandome Cycles will also be appearing at the One Borough show this weekend, where they will be giving FREE bike checks, promoting FREE cycling opportunities for residents and workers in the borough and hosting a Turbo static bike challenge for all ages.

For more information on Barking and Dagenham CC go to www.vandomecycles.co.uk

Making a Mini-Manhattan in Barking

New images and plans have been released by Be First of the first stages of a re-developed Barking town centre – recently dubbed mini-Manhattan.

The plans feature 400 new affordable and shared ownership homes as well as private rental, in two sky scrapers which will replace a run-down tower block, Crown House in Cambridge Road.

They also preserve the Grade II listed Tabernacle Church and introduce mixed use-retail units – suitable for cafes and restaurants – better public access and a landscaped public square.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First said: “These proposals show our idea of creating a vibrant, liveable town centre is not just a pipe dream.

“We are just at the start of realising our vision of making a mini-Manhattan for ordinary Londoners.”

The proposals for the scheme, with an estimated value of £130 million, will go out for formal consultation on Tuesday 24 July and will go before Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee this Winter.

Residents and businesses can make their views known at a special consultation event in Barking Station, 2-8pm on Tuesday 24 July or at www.befirst.london/CrownHouse

New Grayson Perry-backed development will make Barking not Berlin the place for the arts

Plans, backed by Turner prize winner Grayson Perry, to build innovative and affordable homes for artists in Barking have been given the green light.

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.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “This is a major step in our drive to make Barking and not Berlin, the place in Europe for artists to set up home.”

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 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: “Artists in London are under more pressure than ever in terms of finding somewhere affordable to live. This new development will provide something new for London.

“It will function as a community centre that will be run by the 12 resident artists in exchange for affordable, good quality housing.

“This summer we will be putting out a UK-wide call for resident artists which is an important next step for the project.”

It’s more house than garage in Barking

A row of seven houses for local people will be built on a former site of garages in Barking after councillors gave the green light to plans from Be First at a town hall planning committee this week.

The development in Wivenhoe Road, Barking, will feature five two-bedroom houses and two three-bedroom houses.

Jennie Coombs, Head of Affordable Housing at Be First, said: “By making the most of brownfield sites in Barking we have turned derelict garages into genuinely affordable homes for ordinary Londoners.”

The homes will be available for rent through Barking and Dagenham Council’s lettings company, Reside, starting at discounted local market rate.

Be First will now take forward the plans to develop the site in the winter.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways

A statue of Jesus at a former convent in Dagenham has found a new home in Southend this week after an agreement between The Sacred Heart Church in the seaside town and Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company.

The celestial move will allow Be First to develop the former Sacred Heart Convent into dozens of new affordable homes.

Jennie Coombs, head of affordable housing at Be First, said: “Due to redevelopment of the convent site, the statue would no longer be within public view, as it would have ended up in a private garden.

“So, we contacted the Sacred Heart at Southend who were able to find a new home for it further down the A13. It means worshipers and the general public will still be able to see this beautiful statue.”

Fr Graham Smith of Sacred Heart Church in Southend, said: “We in the Catholic parish of Sacred Heart in Southend are very grateful to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Dagenham for enabling us to give this statue a home. It will stand at the front of the church as a witness to the local community.

“Our church stands on a very busy road in Southchurch and my personal hope is that everyone who sees the statue will be reminded of the love of Jesus Christ for everyone.

“The statue depicts Jesus with his arms open wide as an open invitation to all to experience his love and mercy.”

The redevelopment of the convent in Goresbrook Road will produce 29 new affordable homes which will be rented at below local market rates.

Ms Coombs added: “These quality new homes will be among the most affordable in London and the borough.”