New bungalows recreate east end neighbourly feel

Tenants of a brand new ‘old east end style’ bungalow development met Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Councillor Darren Rodwell, this week as he viewed a pioneering council home swap scheme.

Mr Rodwell went to see how Josephine Rudd and her neighbours Pauline Branch and Brenda Lowe were settling in to their new homes in Burbridge Close, Dagenham.

Josephine, who moved into her new bungalow last month, said: “It’s fantastic here. This place reminds me of an apartment in Greece I went to on holiday.

“It’s been great making new friends with my neighbours too – we get on so well.”

Councillor Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great to meet Josephine, Pauline and Brenda and nice to see them settling in so well.

“I am very impressed with the design of the bungalows and the Close reminds me of an old-style east end street.

“The way the tenants can open their doors to chat to their neighbours opposite is fantastic. I think it helps creates a really neighbourly environment.”

Josephine and her neighbours moved in to their new homes through Barking and Dagenham Council’s home swap scheme which enables older and disabled residents to move to purpose-built homes, while releasing larger, under-occupied housing for local families.

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director of Be First, which built the six new bungalows for the council, said: “This project epitomises the Be First approach. This is about building quality homes, on time and to budget and developing great communities. The bungalows were designed to create a neighbourly environment.”

Pete Barber, of designers Peter Barber Architects, visited the development last week, and said: “It was terrific to pay a visit to Burbridge Close and to meet the tenants who are making their homes there.

“It’s clear that people are making friends already. It was a sunny day and the little Close was full of flowers in pots, colourful deck chairs, whirly gigs and cheerful chat, just as we’d hoped.”

Tours galore as Barking and Dagenham steps out to London Open House

Double decker buses, Land Rovers and a range of guided tours feature in September’s London Open House festival in Barking and Dagenham.

The annual festival of architecture, which runs over the weekend 22-23 September, encourages the public to visit little known venues and areas, and the tours and attractions are free of charge.

In Barking and Dagenham you can take a bus around the regeneration hotspots in the borough, or focus on Barking Town Centre, Barking Riverside or the Becontree estate.

Among the attractions are some of the borough’s historical gems, such as Eastbury Manor House, Barking Abbey and Valence House. But unusual new buildings such as the Children’s House, on Parsloes Avenue and the Ice House Quarter alongside the river Roding will also be open their doors.

Two of the borough’s latest artistic venues will be welcoming visitors. Studio 3 Arts, on the Gascoigne estate, will be showing off their new theatre and arts facilities, while the new home for artists at the White House, on Green Lane on the Becontree estate, will be open and running craft activities to visitors.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, the borough’s regeneration agency, which is organising a number of the tours, said: “Open House offers a chance to see parts of the capital that many people have never seen before, so we’re keen to welcome visitors. But Barking and Dagenham is changing so fast that it’s also a really good opportunity for local people to join these free tours to find out what’s going on their doorstep.”

All activities are free, but booking may be required. See here fore details. The Be First double decker bus tours can bee booked here.

A great new school grows

Work is underway on a new state of the art school in the heart of one of east London’s largest regeneration schemes.

The latest phase of Greatfields School, in Barking’s Gascoigne Estate, will provide 18 new classrooms and specialist teaching areas, including science, design technology and music, for 540 new pupils.

The works will mean Year 10 pupils will join Years 7, 8 and 9 in 2019. And further building, including a new primary school, will complete the development in 2020, providing an all-through education campus for a total of 2,400 primary, secondary and sixth form students.

Headteacher, Richard Paul, joined Barking and Dagenham Councillor, Evelyn Carpenter, Jennie Coombs of Be First, and Andrew Shepherd CEO of Mid-Group, to see the start of the new works.

Richard Paul said: “We are extremely excited that work has commenced on the second phase. As the school grows rapidly, the new phase will give us much needed space and access to high quality science, design and music classrooms.

“These fantastic facilities will benefit our students throughout the school and especially those about to embark upon their GCSE courses. We are very grateful to the council, Mid-Group, Be First and Partnership Learning for helping to provide us with such a superb building.”

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement said: “Greatfields School is already a super school, delivering excellent education for local children.

“By the time it is finished Greatfields will be one of the stand out schools in east London, where pupils can spend the whole of their school lives growing and learning together from ages 5 to 18.”

Jennie Coombs, Head of Affordable Housing at Be First, which is co-ordinating the works said: “We are delighted to be helping to deliver this school for the community as part of one of our flagship regeneration projects.

“Building Greatfields school at the heart of the new Gascoigne estate is a great example of what Be First was set up to do – to deliver inclusive regeneration to benefit the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

Roger Leighton, Chief Executive of Partnership Learning, the Trust which oversees the school, said: “Greatfields is the second secondary school we have set up in Barking and Dagenham. The first – Riverside School – was the highest performer in the borough last year, and we expect Greatfields to be just as successful.”

Andrew Shepherd, CEO of Mid Group said: “As a Barking based business, we are delighted to be working once again with local partners to create an exceptional new learning environment for students at Greatfields School.

“By using the latest offsite technology, we will be both minimising disruption to the school and local residents, and also delivering an environmentally friendly building.”