Barking gallery hosts inspirational art

African infused art will be on display at east London’s latest pop up gallery over the next few weeks. 

Kemi Oloyede’s exhibition will be on display at the gallery in Barking station until the end of October. 

Kemi said: “It’s great to be exhibiting my art in Barking which is really becoming a destination for artists to set up shop.  

“My art is the product of my journey from the UK to Nigeria and back to east London. I hope it inspires those who view it as it has inspired me!” 

Councillor Darren Rodwell, who went to see the exhibition, said: “Kemi’s art tells the story of modern day Barking and Dagenham – we’re a rich, vibrant east London borough which is rapidly becoming known as London’s latest creative hotspot.” 

Peter Murray, Board Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, which helped deliver the gallery, said: “At Be First we are delivering thousands of affordable homes and great communities, but we also want to bring art into the heart of our communities too.” 

Kemi’s exhibition is the gallery’s second. The first featured a photo of David Bailey’s Dagenham Idol. 

Karen West Whylie, of the BEC, which is running the gallery, said: ‘’The BEC is keen to support emerging creative businesses, and following the success of Jimmy Lee’s exhibition it will be great to continue on that journey.” 

Saturday openings for the gallery will be 5th October and 19th October. During the week it will be open from Tuesday to Thursday. Doors open from 10am until 4.30pm.


It’s not rocket science – Greatfields is great

Students from one of east London’s fastest growing schools tried out 11 new science classrooms last week.

The newly built science laboratories were among 18 classrooms handed over to the Greatfields School this term by Mid-Group working with Be First, the Council’s regeneration company on behalf of the Council on the £55.8million school build, which is funded by the Education Skills and Funding Agency.

Headteacher Richard Paul, Andrew Shepherd of Mid-Group, James Hodgson of Barking and Dagenham Council Schools Project Sponsor and Richard Rollison of Be First hosted a tour of the exciting new facilities for Councillor Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, and to see how the pupils were enjoying their new scientific surroundings.

Richard Paul, Headteacher said: “We are delighted to have moved into the second phase of our permanent building. Our students now have access to state of the art science labs which means they will be able to carry out a wide range of experiments which they were not previously able to. It is also great timing just as our Year 10 students are embarking upon their GCSE course.”

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, said: “Greatfields has got fantastic teachers, great new facilities and enthusiastic pupils. So, it’s not rocket science to see why Greatfields is great! We are proud to say nine out of 10 of our borough’s schools are rated good to excellent.”

Richard Rollison, Senior Construction Manager at Be First, said: “Greatfields is one of the fastest growing schools in east London, at the heart of one of the capital’s biggest regeneration projects – the renewal of the Gascoigne Estate.

“So, we’re delighted to be able to provide these state of the art new facilities, which we hope will provide a springboard for future generations of science and technology enthusiasts.”

Andrew Shepherd, of Mid-Group, which is part of the LEP (Thames Partnership for Learning) and builder of the school said: “As a Barking based contractor, we are delighted to be involved in the delivery of this major regeneration project on our doorstep.  The school has been delivered to the highest environmental standards and is so efficient it will return energy to the grid at certain points in the year.”

The 18 new classrooms were part of a £55.8million expansion which, once completed, will include a primary school, and an all-through education campus for a total of 2,400 primary, secondary and sixth form students.


More affordable homes in the heart of Becontree

Plans to build 19 affordable homes for local people and a new community facility in the heart of Becontree were given the go-ahead at a planning committee meeting this week.

The decision will mean that local people will be able to apply for the shared ownership homes, which will be part rent part buy.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing said: “There’s a shortage of affordable housing locally which we’re determined to tackle.

“This new development will enable local people to get on the housing ladder in an affordable way and at the same time there will be a community facility for residents to enjoy. So whether you’re a builder, retail worker or teacher, these homes are for you!”

The development at 200 Becontree Avenue will include:

  • 13 one bedroom, four two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom flats
  • 169 square metre space for community use
  • Cycling parking provision and electric vehicle charging points
  • Development to use a minimum of 25% of local labour and suppliers

Cllr Geddes added: “I am particularly pleased that local labour and suppliers will be used for this development. It means these affordable homes will be built for local people by local people.”



Providing homes for local homeless families

Three Councillors inspected a newly built two-bedroom flat this week which will soon be home for a local homeless family.

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, was joined by Cllrs Sade Bright, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Aspiration, Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, and Tara Mahony, of Be First, to see the apartment which will be one of 92 new homes on the former Weighbridge site in Dagenham.

The properties are being built off-site using top quality materials, and are being delivered to the site at Cook Road, Dagenham. So far around 25 homes have been delivered.

Councillor Darren Rodwell said: “The flat looks great and I am sure it will make a wonderful new home for local families who otherwise may have had to live in hostels, or expensive temporary accommodation, sometimes outside the borough.

“These new homes are part of a wider programme which will give local homeless families more stability and save us hundreds of thousands of pounds from our budget.”

Once complete, the development will feature 24 one-bedroom flats, 36 two-bedroom flats and 32-three-bedroom homes.

Tara Mahony, Assistant Construction Manager at Be First, said: “We’re really cracking on with the delivery of this development which will give families who have been living in insecure accommodation a more stable future.”

William Jerram, Managing Director of Jerram Falkus, which is carrying out the work on behalf of Be First, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Be First to deliver one of Barking and Dagenham’s first modular housing developments and it is making great progress.”

The Weighbridge development is part of a wider programme which will deliver around 127 new homes to house local homeless people and families.

This means the council is offering an additional safety net for homeless families to remain within the borough at the same time as reducing the cost of providing temporary accommodation which is currently £18million a year.


Views sought on new homes in Woodward Road

Local residents are invited to a special drop-in session at Woodward Hall, between 3-7.30pm on Tuesday 24 September to view the proposals for more than 50 new homes on Woodward Road, near Becontree station.

Architects and project staff from Be First, the Council’s regeneration company, will be attending to gather residents’ views on plans for between 50-60 affordable homes, which could be built on the site of the vacant Woodward Hall and Greig Hall, behind the library and the Julia Engwell health centre.

In addition, the draft plans also aim to:

  • renovate the library to provide a new, flexible space for community services; and
  • landscape and improve the external spaces around the site.

Matthew Westwood, the Development Manager for Be First, explains: “We aim to build much-needed affordable homes at Woodward Road, so we’re keen to hear residents’ views on our plans.

“We especially want to hear on any ideas about the sort of community activities that could take place in the former library, before we submit a planning application.”

Be First hopes to submit a planning application to the council for consideration at the March 2020 Planning Committee.