Homes for local homeless under-weigh

Work to build nearly 100 new temporary homes for local homeless people is now underway on a former weighbridge site in Dagenham.

The Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell and Be First’s Construction Director, Tom Mather went to see how work was progressing on Thursday (28 March 2018).

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s good to see that work has started so soon after we gave the go-ahead to build these new homes.

“This is yet another example of our determination to make sure local families who become homeless have a roof over their heads.”

Tom Mather, Construction Director at Be First, said: “We’re not standing on ceremony at Be First.  We’re cracking on with our mission to build a better borough and to deliver thousands of affordable homes for local people.”

Ed Bartlett, Project Leader at Jerram Falkus said, “We are pleased to have commenced works on the Weighbridge site this month and it is exciting for us to deliver one of Barking and Dagenham’s first modular housing developments. We look forward to working in partnership with Be First on this unique project to construct quality homes to improve the lives of local homeless people.”

The new ninety-two new homes at the site in Cook Road, Dagenham, will be built off-site using top quality modular materials and methods.

The homes feature 24 one-bedroom flats, 36 two-bedroom flats and 32-three-bedroom homes.

These properties will be used to house families who would otherwise be forced into expensive and insecure hostel and other temporary accommodation, in and outside the borough.

This means the council is offering an additional safety net for homeless families to remain in the borough at the same time as reducing the cost of providing temporary accommodation which is currently £14m a year.

The project is part of the company’s wider programme to build up to 150 homes around for homeless people in the borough.

See Cllr Rodwell’s reaction here.

More details about the project here.

We’re booting out bigotry

Be First has teamed up with Dagenham and Redbridge FC to sponsor the club’s 10th Daggers Against Racism Day.

The Daggers Against Racism Day takes place alongside the East London club’s home match against Barrow AFC on Saturday 6th April, with a 3pm kick-off.

And Be First is opening up the event to the community by sponsoring 1,000 free tickets which are being distributed through the club’s community scheme.

Pat Hayes, Be First’s Managing Director, explained why the regeneration company backed the event.

He said: “There has been a rise in racist incidents in football lately, just as there has been in the country at large, so we all need to be vigilant in the fight against prejudice on and off the pitch.

“It’s why we are proud to sponsor this event and play our part in booting out bigotry in our borough and beyond.”

Dagenham and Redbridge FC’s anti-racism day started in 2010 due to the fear that the BNP, which had taken several council seats in 2006, would win a parliamentary seat at the General Election that year.

Steve Thompson, MBE, Managing Director of Dagenham and Redbridge FC, said: “The Daggers have always had a multi-racial team, with players from all over the world.

“These days give our supporters the opportunity to show their support and demonstrate that no form of discrimination will be tolerated.

“We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors but particularly Be First for this game. Their support allows us to offer such a great value day and perhaps allow some people to attend who might not normally be able to afford to come along.”

The event will be attended by The Mayor of Barking & Dagenham the Worshipful Councillor Sanchia Alasia, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, the Young Mayor of Barking and Dagenham, Joshua Singh-Hill and the Youth Forum who have been supported today by the Football Supporters Federation.

And as part of the day’s entertainment Be First has helped organise fun cycling and fitness activities at the club starting from 1pm.

The ‘Pedal against Prejudice’ events are:

  • Novelty bikes
  • Smoothie Bikes
  • Cycle 4 ALL Promotion – the Barking and Dagenham’s all-inclusive cycling club providing opportunities to those with specific needs and support, demonstrating disability is not a barrier to cycling.
  • Respoke Promotion – the borough’s award-winning bicycle recycle project
  • Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club promotion, with the team in attendance in full kit.
  • Cycle Skills/Education Promotion – promoting Social Cycling
  • Opportunities available to all borough residents, workers and those in education, Biking Riverside Project, School Training and School Cycle Clubs.
  • Turbo Bike Challenge – Race against the clock over a set distance
  • Miniature Bike Challenge – Race against the clock around a short course on extremely small bicycles
  • Dr Bike – Providing maintenance, security advice and guidance, while any bikes in attendance can have a check over

Building a buzzing Barking

The latest plan to boost Barking’s growing reputation as one of east London’s most vibrant town centres was given the green light at planning committee last night (18 March).

Proposals to demolish Crown House, Barking, and to redevelop the site and neighbouring Linton Road car park, were approved by councillors at the meeting.

The dated 1960’s office block will be replaced with 396 new homes in new high-rise buildings under plans submitted by Be First, the Council’s regeneration company, and Lightquote, leaseholder of the existing building. Be First will build 169 new affordable and shared ownership homes for the council, and Lightquote will build homes for private rent.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “The proposals to demolish Crown House are a vital part of our plans to boost the provision of affordable homes and rejuvenate a neglected part of Barking town centre.

“The new development will create 396 top quality homes with 169 affordable and council owned apartments for local people. We are putting our money where our mouth is by building for the many and not the few.”

“In the town centre we need a genuine mix of housing which will provide a more vibrant, buzzing town centre. And, by offering a wide range of housing options, we are providing more opportunities for local families to put down their roots and call Barking & Dagenham home.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “Crown House is one of many developments happening in the heart of Barking.

“With artists’ housing, new cinemas and genuinely affordable homes coming soon, we are building a better Barking for all.”

A spokesperson for Lightquote said: ““We’re delighted that this project has now been approved and we look forward to delivering a range of top-quality homes just yards from Barking station. Together with the improved public realm and commercial premises, it will give a real boost to the development of the town centre.”

The development of the Crown House site will deliver:

  • a 20 storey and a 29 storey tower flanked by ‘shoulder’ buildings
  • 169 low cost and affordable apartments and shared ownership flats in the new buildings on the Linton Road car park, made up of 80 one-bedroom, 71 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom flats
  • 95 one-bedroom and 132 two-bedroom flats for rent in the new building on the Crown House site
  • space for offices and shops
  • a public square, play facilities, a public pedestrian route and public realm and landscaping improvements

The development will retain the distinctive Grade II listed Tabernacle Church which is adjacent.

The plans will now be referred to the Mayor of London for approval.

Be First and Lightquote expect to appoint contractors in April.

Art in the heart for school for the brave

The arts are now firmly at the heart of an east London school thanks to a multi-million-pound expansion.

The investment means students at Robert Clack School, whose motto ‘for the brave nothing is difficult’, will be able enjoy a new space dedicated to drama and music, built as part of a £6 million refit which includes 17 new classrooms and a sixth form room.

Tom Mather of Be First and Mike O’Dell of Mid-Group met with Headteacher Russell Taylor on 14 March to see how the pupils are enjoying their new arts space.

Headteacher Russell Taylor said: “Some years ago Robert Clack School agreed to expand its provision in order to support the council in providing more school places for the young people of our borough.  As a heavily oversubscribed school, we are pleased that our new buildings and facilities mean that more children can now be offered a place at their first-choice school.

“Robert Clack has always been committed to providing a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes a recognition of the importance of the arts, music and drama.  We are delighted that as part of this expansion programme we now have world class facilities to support our pupils’ world class talents!”

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, the council’s Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, said: “We are expanding our excellent schools like Robert Clack with the result that more parents in our borough are able to get their first choice of school for their child than anywhere else in London.

“And on top of this, more students are getting into the top Russell Group universities than ever before.”

Tom Mather, Construction Director for Be First, which advised on the expansion, said: “Be First is not just about building affordable homes for local people, we’re also helping to build communities and great schools like Robert Clack.

“It’s great to see the school embracing the arts because Barking and Dagenham is fast becoming known as London’s latest creative hotspot with new artists’ housing, workspaces and galleries popping up here.”

Mike O’Dell of Mid-Group, who built the new school buildings, said: “We’re proud to be part of building a brave school like Robert Clack, they are building lives and communities with their progressive outlook and values.”

The development also includes refurbishment, extension and remodelling of the dining hall, school entrance, reception and administration area.

It follows a £4 million expansion of the school’s lower site last year.