Iconic estate stages Tour De Becontree

Young east London cyclists took to the streets in a Tour De Becontree to celebrate 100 years of the Addison Act on Friday, 26 July.

Around 50 young people from the Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club, Dorothy Barley Junior School and Manor Junior School Cycle Clubs were led on a special circuit by qualified instructors around the iconic Becontree Estate, just before the final stage of the Tour De France last weekend.

The estate was built in 1921 following the introduction of the Addison Act, which paved the way for the first major council house building programme in Britain. For many decades the Becontree estate was the largest council housing estate in Europe.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, who joined the youngsters, said: “It’s been 100 years since the Addison Act which led to Barking and Dagenham becoming the birthplace of modern council housing. In 2021 we will be hosting a number of events to celebrate one hundred years since the first property was built on the estate.

“We thought it would be fun to create a Tour De Becontree to coincide with the last stages of the Tour De France this weekend, as a way of celebrating the fact that we’re back in the saddle with large scale house building.”

Also taking part in the event will be Peter Murray, Board Member of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company.

Peter said: “Be First is spearheading one of London’s largest building programmes and will be integrating healthy travel, including cycling, into the heart of our developments wherever we can.

“It’s apt that we’re celebrating 100 years of an epoch making Act which created the Becontree estate with another iconic event – the Tour De France.”

Cllr Rodwell added: “You could say we’re creating bespoke developments for ordinary Londoners in the 21st century.”

Summer fun at transformed Tantony Green

Chadwell Heath children have a new state of new state of the art playground to have fun in the sun this summer.

Locals say the Tantony Green play area in Marks Gate has been transformed from a tired old boring playground into an exciting new space complete with multi-use games area, a bespoke adventure tree house with a zip wire ride, plus an outdoor gym and a picnic area.

The redeveloped playground was the brainchild of community group, North Meets South, and delivered by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company.

The idea was generated after North Meets South identified the need to improve parks and open spaces in the area.

Tina Franklin, North Meets South Steering Group member, said: “North Meets South is delighted to invite you to the opening of the Tantony Green park redevelopment. This transformed space is a testament to what residents can achieve if they are given a voice and are empowered to work together to build a better future with funders and the council.”

Cllr Siama Ashraf, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, who attended the fun day, said: “I hope this great new play area gives years of fun to local youngsters. They certainly looked like they were having fun in the sun today!”

Tom Mather of Be First, who managed the building of the new play area said: “Be First is not all about bricks and mortar, we’re about building communities with great facilities and fun places too!”

North Meets South consulted the community between 2016 and 2018 to find out what local people wanted in order to make the project a reality.

North Meets South invested £130,000 of Big Local funding, and wrote a successful bid for a further £74,950 from Veolia Environmental Trust, for the project.

An additional £31,000 was invested into the scheme by the Council to ensure it was completed in time for the summer holidays.

Notes for editors:

North Meets South is the Big Local for Marks Gate and north Chadwell Heath.

Big Local is a community funder. It is funded by £1 million over 10 years from the Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery Fund) and managed by Local Trust.

Former hospital to provide homes for local families

Councillors gave the green light to proposals to convert a former hospital into an exciting new community facility together with nearly 60 new family homes at a cabinet meeting last night.

The redevelopment of Grays Court Hospital in John Parker Close, Dagenham, will deliver a vibrant new community hub, providing a range of services and activities for local residents, including the continuation of out of hours GP services.

And, 59 new homes will be built for local families who are on the housing waiting list and currently living in temporary accommodation.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, cabinet member for regeneration and social housing, said: “By giving the go-ahead to these proposals we’re providing new homes for local families which will give them the space to live in, and at the same time a fantastic community facility, which includes out of hours GP services for local people.

“It also means we can keep local families in the borough and spend less on expensive bed and breakfast accommodation, which will mean we can reinvest the savings into other front line services for local people. It’s a great deal all round for the borough and the community.”

The proposed community hub will provide a range of services including:

• a Community Food Club
• cooking school and meal sharing offer
• an education and training offer
• a family learning offer
• careers fairs and job clubs, and
• the continuation of the out of hours GP service

The proposals are subject to planning permission. The planning application and refurbishment works will be managed by Be First on behalf of the council, while the new homes and community facilities will be operated and managed on-site by the council’s Community Solutions team.

Ed Skeates, Director of Development said: “Be First is not only about building thousands of affordable homes for local people but also building communities too.”

Barking and Dagenham home of European art

East end artist David Bailey’s photograph of the Dagenham Idol will be one of the star exhibits at a new pop-up gallery in Barking this summer.

The picture of the prehistoric figurine – believed to be one of the first known examples of figurative art in Europe – will be displayed as part of a photography exhibition featuring Dagenham photographer, Jimmy Lee’s work on the hugely busy concourse of Barking station.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “For years, I have been saying that Barking and not Berlin is the past, present and future of European art and this exhibition of David Bailey and Jimmy Lee’s works firmly supports this claim!”

Jimmy Lee said: “I feel very privileged to be the first person displaying their work in this great new gallery space in Barking. It’s an amazing opportunity for me, and to be sharing my images in a space with a legend like David Bailey is a real honour.”

The pop-up shop is a joint venture between Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, and the Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC), who helped fund the project as part of their commitment to support emerging arts and culture businesses.

It is the first of an exciting programme of art and craft exhibitions which will be run by the BEC from this summer. The BEC will also be promoting the innovative new creative workspace ‘ThreeSixty’, delivered in partnership with Create London, which is due to open early next year.

Karen West Wylie, Chief Executive of the BEC said: “We are delighted to have a chance to show the work of Jimmy Lee and others who will follow him in the space to showcase and sell their work. There really will be something for everyone.”

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, said: “The massive footfall at the station means that this pop-up shop is an ideal place to showcase the creative talent we have in this borough.  It is fast becoming known as London’s latest creative hotspot with Be First leading a number of projects to support its further growth.”

A c2c spokesperson, operator of Barking station, said: “We are delighted to host this fantastic new gallery at the station which reinforces Barking’s burgeoning status as a visitor destination and newcomer on London’s arts scene.”

New sports hall helps students reach new heights

Barking Abbey School pupils were jumping for joy this week as they were put through their paces during a PE lesson in a new, state-of-the-art sports hall. 

The hall is part of a £17.9 million expansion which allows the school, which is a specialist sports and humanities college, to accommodate 90 more students each year. 

The school has experienced consistent sporting success including pupils going on to receive basketball scholarships in the USA and representing Great Britain.  

Headteacher Jo Tupman said: “I am delighted that we have now opened our new sports hall at our Longbridge campus and that we are now able to offer the same standard of sporting facility across both our campuses. 

“It is a very exciting period in Barking Abbey’s long history as we gradually expand to 12-forms of entry and develop our dual campus model. 

“Along with our new teaching block and sixth form centre, this will continue to further improve our teaching and learning facilities, so our students are supported in the best possible way to achieve all their goals.” 

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, said: “The new facilities at Barking Abbey School, including its excellent gym, epitomise what we’re trying to achieve in Barking and Dagenham.  

“We’re expanding our schools as our population grows, so that every child has a place in local school, with first class facilities and in a setting that will encourage pupils to reach new heights. Nine out of 10 of our schools rated good to outstanding by Ofsted.” 

Dennis Wright, Construction Manager at Be First, which helped deliver the school’s expansion, said: “At Be First we’re motivated by building high quality affordable homes and thriving communities at the same time. Good schools are at the heart of this, so we’re delighted to be able to help the staff and students of Barking Abbey grow and succeed.” 

The school’s expansion also includes a new 690 square metre teaching block with dining hall, design and technology classrooms, art classrooms, science laboratories, and nine general teaching classrooms on its Longbridge site.