School for the brave in seventh heaven

Up to 360 Year Seven pupils at a Dagenham school of science will be able to enjoy 12 brand new classrooms this term.

To celebrate the opening of the new facilities at Robert Clack Lower School, Headteacher Russell Taylor, met Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, Mike O’Dell of Mid Group and Darren Cutts of Be First.

And in addition to the classrooms, which includes a new food tech lab, Mid Group, also donated the materials and built the school a new “Constructionarium”, where construction related teaching and learning can take place, in a purpose-built environment.

Headteacher, Russell Taylor, who is also a former pupil at the school, said: “The new classrooms are brilliant and will enable teachers and students to continue to strive for excellence. I would also like congratulate everyone involved for ensuring the block was built on time.

“Our school motto is ‘For the brave nothing is difficult’ and so it proved for the team delivering the expansion which was accomplished in just seven months, which is a fantastic achievement!”

Cllr Carpenter said: “The expansion is part of a £43.75m investment programme at the school so all our children can receive top quality education in the best possible environment.

“We have one of the fastest growing school-age populations in Britain but we are keeping up with demand and making sure our students get a great education.”

Darren Cutts, of Be First, which project-managed the build, said: “Be First is about delivering quantity with quality – we’re building new schools and classrooms at speed for the people of the borough.

“I am particularly pleased to see the school looking to teach building skills. It’s visionary. There is a really shortage of skilled labour in London and the UK, so the more young people are trained in carpentry, brick laying and other skills, the better for Britain and the construction industry.”

Mike O’Dell of Mid Group, said: “We started building this new block in January and we finished in seven months. It means Year Seven can now move in to a high quality, environmentally sound teaching environment.”

“Mid Group are also delighted to have donated the new “Constructionarium” to the school, where the school will be able to give pupils an introduction to the Construction industry. As a local business it is important to us that young people realise the opportunity a career in construction can offer.”

The works also include a new kitchen and an expanded dining hall.

Nine out of ten schools in Barking and Dagenham are rated Good or Outstanding.

Artists take a trip east to Barking – not Berlin

Artists from all over London and the UK met up with the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council to view the proposed site of the ground-breaking ‘House for Artists’ in Barking.

Councillor Darren Rodwell hosted a tour of Barking town centre, including the site itself, for artists who are interested in taking up residence at the project, which will be the UK’s first purpose-built house for artists.

The project, which is backed by Grayson Perry, will include 12 apartments rented out at 65 per cent of the local market rate as part of bid to attract and retain London’s creative community which has been priced out of expensive inner London areas such as Hackney, Haggerston and Hoxton.

As well as studios for resident artists, a community hall is part of the new building – and as part of their tenancies, the artists must all commit half a day each week to delivering a public programme of arts activities and education for local young people.

Councillor Rodwell said: “It’s great to welcome so many artists, not only from the borough but from all over London and throughout the country. It’s yet more evidence we’re becoming a magnet for artists who find the old east end too expensive and who know it’s Barking and not Berlin, where the art’s at.”

“As a council we will ensure that in our quest to grow our borough it is not just about bricks and mortar but hearts and minds in our determination that no one is left behind.”

Cllr Rodwell added, the House for Artists will be a genuine community asset which will inspire local people to get involved in the creative industries.

“I passionately believe the arts world massively needs people from places like Barking and Dagenham to get more involved. If we get more working people involved in the arts, the better, richer and more diverse the creative industries will be,” he said.

Cllr Rodwell was joined by Hadrian Garrard of Create London, who on behalf of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company, was tasked with inviting interested artists to apply to become tenants of the development.

Hadrian Garrard of Create London, which is inviting artists to apply to live at the development, said: “”We have been overwhelmed by the interest from artists wanting to apply for residency so far, showing just how needed and vital projects like A House for Artists are.

“For years, we’ve been hearing from artists about a lack of long-term, affordable and good quality homes, and so we are excited to be moving into the stage where these artists can start do just that – put down long-term roots and embed themselves in the communities they will live and work in.”

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, which is commissioning the project, said: “This new development will help London keeps its cutting-edge creative talent.

“The capital cannot afford to lose its arts community, not only in cultural terms but socially and economically too. The project will continue the growth of Barking’s arts scene and will help grow the local economy which will benefit local people.”

Project Ambassador Grayson Perry will be part of the panel interviewing applicants alongside representatives from Create, Be First, the GLA and local community

Astrid Smitham of Apparata said: “We developed this housing model with artists in mind but in a way that we think is relevant to everyone. The building has high ceilings, adaptable apartments and shared spaces to allow communities to form both inside the building and in the local area: with shared external balconies, a floor of co-housing and sheltered spaces to the street to welcome people into the building. It is great to finally introduce the project to the artists that will be calling the building their home.”

Digital Dagenham on the way

Barking and Dagenham’s drive to become a centre for digital and media industries has received a massive boost after the council gave the thumbs up to plans to build two of the UK’s largest data centres.

The planning decision, which had been referred to the Mayor of London’s office for review, gives the seal of approval to NTT Communications Corporation to develop two 212m long buildings on the former Sanofi site at Dagenham East. Once developed the buildings will house large scale data hosting infrastructure which is be critical for sectors such as digital media, cloud computing and Content Defined Networks among others and will support East London’s emerging technological industries.

The development will be yards away from the proposed site for London’s largest film studios.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “Giving the green light to these two huge data centres will mean Barking and Dagenham will be able to power London’s digital led economy well into the 21st century.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company, said: “The borough used to be famous for Fords and factories but with these new data centres and studios, we will soon be famous for films, media and digital technology.”

A spokesperson for e-shelter, the NTT Communications owned data centre operator, said “We welcome the decision from Barking and Dagenham Council to give this project the green light and we look forward to working with the council and local stakeholders in helping to deliver industry leading digital infrastructure in the borough.”

James Kingdom, Head of Head of Alternatives Research at JLL, global property adviser, commented: “Data centres are an essential form of infrastructure to help support the growing digitalisation of how we live and work. The growth of new commercial areas means that East London is a key area in delivering new supply and helping the capital to remain a global leader in data centre delivery.”

Cllr Rodwell said: “These developments will bring thousands of jobs for local people at all levels – from construction workers and carpenters hotel to set designers and film and TV producers. It’s another sign that Barking and Dagenham is booming.”

FAO Editors:

In July this year, Barking and Dagenham Council gave planning consent to NTT to build the data centres.

The decision was then referred to Greater London Authority. Last week Deputy Mayor, Jules Pipe, said he was content to allow Barking and Dagenham Council to make the final decision itself.

The council has now given formal notice to grant permission (12 September).