Residents asked for views on development

What sort of development should be allowed in Barking and Dagenham over the next few years and where should it take place?

These are some of the key questions the council is encouraging residents to help answer as it launches its consultation on the Local Plan.

Every borough is legally required to have a Local Plan which sets out where the council expects growth to occur and what kinds of growth it will support.

It is a technical document but vitally important for the borough since it is used by planners to determine whether investors, developers and builders’ plans are permissible.

Caroline Harper, Chief Planner for Be First, the company drafting the Local Plan for the Council explains: “The council is obliged to plan to accommodate growth and our ambition is to do this in a way that will benefit local residents.

“For example, we want to be sure the right sort of housing is available for our young people.  And, we want to attract new businesses that will generate good jobs for local people. The Local Plan guides those who want to invest in our community to deliver what the community has said it wants between now and 2034.”

A draft of the Local Plan for Barking and Dagenham is now available and the Council is calling for residents to give their views on it. It is available online and copies are also available in the borough libraries and at the Town Hall.

“The Local Plan talks about lots of key policy issues,” adds Harper, “such as how we protect and enhance the environment, and how we encourage residents to live more active, healthier and more sustainable lives.  These issues are vitally important for the borough, so residents’ views and suggestions are really important.”

The consultation runs until the 29 February and is the first stage of a wider public consultation on growth and regeneration in the borough. In the New Year the council will be consulting residents of Barking and Dagenham on how they see their local neighbourhoods changing and just what strategy we should adopt on growth and regeneration.

Gifted Griffi nails her edgy art in Barking

A local artist who incorporates nuts, nails and screws to explore neuroscience, physics and psychology is displaying her ground-breaking work at Barking station’s pop up gallery this month.

Griffi, who lives locally, said: “I use an array of reclaimed materials such as screws, nails, kitchen utensils and other building paraphernalia, some of which have been donated from local people and building sites.

“I try to explore forms of science in my art to pose more subliminal questions about our society and culture.”

Karen West Whylie, CEO of Barking Enterprise Centre, which operates the gallery, said: “We want to continue to showcase the best of the creative talent in our borough and Griffi was a natural choice.” 

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, which secured the space at the station, said: “Griffi’s work is edgy and in my view outstanding. It’s a great new addition  to the gallery which is generating a buzz in Barking.”

The gallery will be open from 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Friday. The exhibition closes on 29 November.



More affordable homes for local people

Plans to build at least 200 new affordable homes for local people were given the green light last night (12 November) by councillors.

The proposals, which are subject to planning permission, are to build the homes on land alongside the A12 in Marks Gate, and emanate from the council’s regeneration company, Be First. They feature homes that would be rented out at rents as low as £150 a week*.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “It’s no secret that there’s a huge waiting list for affordable homes in the borough. In Marks Gate alone there are 163 people on the council waiting list. So, last night’s decision is exciting because we can now start detailed designs to build quality homes for local people at rents they can truly afford.

“Our immediate priority is to talk to the local community about our plans. In particular, we want to talk about how we can dramatically improve the quality of the green spaces there, including Padnall Lake itself, and think about what sort of community facilities we can introduce to benefit local residents.”

The outline proposals include:

  • at least 200 new affordable homes – including at least 35 per cent at London Affordable Rent (one bedroom rents starting at £150 a week*)
  • a new community space
  • plans to create better and more diverse open space to encourage increased recreational use, and
  • improvements to the environment and ecology of Padnall Lake.

Be First will now consult with the local community to submit a detailed design for a planning application on the proposed development in Spring 2020.

The * rent figure is at 2019 levels.


We’re still building quality homes for working people

New affordable homes will be built on the site of a former Royal British Legion (RBL) hall and adjacent flats after plans were agreed by the Council at a cabinet meeting last night (12 November).

The 56 new affordable homes will replace the existing 16 flats on Jervis Court and the ex-RBL land on Rectory Road, Dagenham.

Ed Skeates, Development Director at Be First, said: “A hundred years ago after the First World War this borough became famous for building homes fit for heroes at Becontree Heath.

“Thankfully we’re not building homes in the aftermath of such a tragic war but we are still building quality, affordable homes for ordinary working people as this new development shows.”

The plans were first outlined to Jervis Court residents during an initial consultation process.

The existing tenants and leaseholders will be offered the Right to Return and the council will support the tenants to find alternative homes that meet their housing needs.

Be First will continue to make detailed designed plans for the redevelopment which will be subject to further consultation and a planning decision.



We’re building quality careers for local people

Contractors working in Barking and Dagenham have agreed to create over 560 new construction jobs and hundreds of new apprenticeships by 2025.

The Council’s regeneration company, Be First has reached an agreement with its construction industry partners to deliver full time jobs and extensive training and educational opportunities.

The news comes in the run up to Skills London 2019 this month where Be First and the contractors; McLaren Construction Ltd, Wates Residential, Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd, J. Murphy & Sons Ltd, Jerram Falkus Construction Ltd, Mulalley & Company Ltd and United Living (South), will have a joint stand, aimed at encouraging local young people to consider careers in the construction industry.

Tom Mather, Construction Director at Be First, said: “Within the next five years, we will be building thousands of affordable homes in the borough.  But we’re determined to build strong sustainable communities too, and long-term well-paid jobs are clearly a vital part of this.

“So, with our construction partners, we’re looking to inspire young people to join an industry which has an amazing range of trades and skills, offers excellent wages, and is set to go from strength to strength in East London for the foreseeable future.”

“I strongly encourage local young people to come along to Skills London 2019 to find out just what’s on offer.”

The agreement between Be First and contractors includes:

  • 561 new full-time, long term and well paid jobs for people living in Barking and Dagenham
  • 264 apprenticeships will be created and supported to complete their qualification and beyond; delivering over 25,000 weeks of training
  • 350 weeks of vocational work experience to support those looking for their first step into a career
  • 72 educational workshops to inspire our boroughs workforce of the future
  • 36 Business and Enterprise training events to ensure local businesses are equipped to secure the supply chain opportunities generated through Be First.

Skills London 2019 takes place at the ExCeL centre in the Royal Docks on 15 and 16 November and is free to attend.


A new west side story

Plans to build more than 200 new homes for local people on the west side of the Gascoigne Estate were given the thumbs up last night at Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee.

Over 60 per cent of the homes will be affordable, with rents starting from £134 a week .*

Pat Hayes, Managing Director for Be First, said: “Redeveloping the Gascoigne Estate is a major step in the regeneration of the borough.

“This decision paves the way for more quality homes local people can afford.”

The new development in Abbey Road will include:

  • 201 new homes – 89 one bedroom, 88 two bedroom and 24 three-bedroom apartments
  • new children’s play area
  • electric car charging points and over 360 new cycling parking spaces, and
  • 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions thanks to a connection to the forthcoming Barking Town Centre District Heating Network and solar panels.

Leading national developer, Wates Residential, has been appointed to undertake the work, and their team has recently moved onto site to prepare for the build.

Paul Nicholls, Managing Director for Wates Residential, said: “Today’s decision marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Gascoigne Estate in the delivery of much needed high quality new homes for local people. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Be First to help realise this vision and also look forward to working with the local community to deliver education, training and skills opportunities as we commence work on site.”

Linda Thiel, of White Arkitekter, architects of Phase 2 of Gascoigne East and Phase 1 of Gascoigne West and now overall ‘Design Guardian’ for Gascoigne West, said: “We’re very proud of being involved in this important project.

“At White Arkitekter we take our responsibility of planning sustainable, equitable cities very seriously. We’re delighted to team up with Be First and effect change together.”

The first phase of the redevelopment is due to start on site in January 2020, with completion expected Spring 2022.

*2019 prices