Forget about Downton Abbey – here’s Barking Abbey!

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council was joined by fellow fans of the east London borough to pose for a tongue in cheek picture in the grounds of Barking Abbey. 

The picture – loosely based on the Downtown Abbey film poster – is part of a drive to promote the borough’s history and burgeoning reputation as London’s latest creative hotspot. 

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “Never mind about Downton Abbey, we’ve got Barking Abbey!  

“In Barking and Dagenham we’ve got way more to offer, with historic gems such as the Abbey, a thriving artist community, fabulous film locations and an aspirational, egalitarian outlook!”  

Peter Murray, board member at Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, said: “Barking and Dagenham has a rich, proud past and a hugely exciting future.  

“Few other London boroughs have helped shape the capital and again we’re leading the way on the capital’s eastward’s growth too.” 

As well as delivering thousands of affordable homes, Be First is preserving the borough’s history with its £1.8million heritage project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund.  

It will include a new landscaped entrance to the Abbey ruins from East Street, Barking around the Curfew Tower and refurbishing the historic buildings and shop fronts in the Barking Conservation Area. 

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, said: “At Be First we’re keen to preserve and celebrate the borough’s history alongside delivering new developments. The Abbey grounds are not only precious to Barking and Dagenham, they are precious to London.”



Plans for Made in Dagenham film studios move forward

Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s pioneering regeneration company, has announced new plans to deliver films studios in Dagenham today.

The proposals, which were given the go-ahead by councillors tonight, are for Be First to design and seek planning permission for London’s largest film studios for 25 years on over 20 acres of the former Sanofi site in Dagenham East.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “This is the next exciting stage in our ambition to build the largest studios in London for 25 years.

“If we get planning permission to build our Made in Dagenham studios, there are some exciting options – we could build them ourselves or we can work with any of the ambitious dynamic media companies who share our vision of making movies in what will be London’s Hollywood.”

Pat Hayes, Be First’s Managing Director, explained that the new plans will no longer include Pacifica Ventures, whose exclusivity period as a preferred bidder has elapsed.

He said: “We move on to the next stage in this exciting journey of making Dagenham as famous for films as it was for Fords.”

“Pacifica told us they were finding it difficult to deliver their plans due to uncertainty over the UK leaving the European Union.

“But what is not in doubt is the viability and demand for studio space in the UK which remains sky high, and that is why I am convinced there will be plenty of interest from parties who want to make sure movies will be Made in Dagenham.”

Last night’s decision paves the way for Be First to progress design work, continue discussions with potential operators, investors and joint ventures and submit a planning application in the New Year.

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission said: “I’m delighted that the proposals to move forward with the designs for the Made in Dagenham studios have been agreed.

“UK film and high-end TV production is enjoying a sustained and exceptional boom time, contributing billions to the economy each year, and it is crucial that we capitalise on this by continuing to develop our world-class infrastructure and provide access to as much purpose built studio space as we possibly can.

“Our highly attractive tax reliefs remain unaffected by Brexit so for international productions coming to the UK it’s very much business as usual. We’re continuing to see a huge demand by major studios looking for the stability and security of a UK production base and we very much look forward to working with Be First and Barking & Dagenham on adding their exciting development to London’s studio offer, bringing benefits to East London, the capital and indeed the UK as a whole.”

Grand designs: Consultation on new homes gets underway

Residents and neighbours of two housing estates are being invited to get involved in designing new homes for local people at a series of drop-in events starting next week.

The events follow a decision to build new homes at the junction of Roxwell Road and Stebbing Way, Barking, and at the corner of Oxlow Lane and Rainham Road North, Dagenham, after the recent consultations revealed that in each case a substantial majority of residents favoured a redevelopment of the sites.

Architects and staff from Be First will be at the drop-ins to discuss the initial designs for providing top quality homes with residents. And, since existing residents have the right to return once the estates have been rebuilt, many will be playing a part in designing their own new homes.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, explained: “Based on the recent consultations with residents, there was a lot of dissatisfaction with these flats so I’m delighted we have the opportunity to rebuild these homes.

“Returning residents will be offered modern, new homes with equivalent rents and tenancy conditions, and will have the opportunity to get involved in designing the new buildings.”

The drop-in sessions are planned as follows:

For Roxwell Road and Stebbing Way

Thursday 17 October
2.30 – 7.30pm
Thames View Community Hall
Bastable Avenue
Barking IG11 0LH

For Oxlow Lane and Rainham Road North

Monday 21 October
2.30pm to 7.30pm
Eastbrook Community Centre (Wantz Hall)
Rainham Road North,
Dagenham, RM10 7DX