Gascoigne – a model for 21st century affordable housing

Building work on one of east London’s largest regeneration projects is continuing at pace on Barking’s Gascoigne Estate.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, visited site on Friday 19 June, to see how construction of the latest phase of 200 new homes is progressing.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to see our contractors, Wates Residential, safely picking up the pace on the renewal of the Gascoigne. It creates a sense of hope for a better future in an otherwise bleak time.

“The new Gascoigne will be a model of high quality affordable housing creating new sustainable homes for local people in the heart of Barking.”

Cllr Rodwell was joined by the Managing Director of Wates Residential, Paul Nicholls and Be First’s Construction Director, Tom Mather.

Tom Mather said: “By accelerating the pace of construction we are not only building more affordable homes for local people but also helping to restart London’s economy.

“Construction is the critical part of the London economy and without it safely rebooting the country’s economy will not start to recover.”

Wates Residential’s Paul Nicholls said: “We believe that everyone deserves a great place to live so we are delighted to be working with Be First to deliver these essential homes for local people. However, our commitment goes beyond bricks and mortar – we are invested in ensuring that the local economy and local community continue to thrive.

“By hiring over a quarter of our site workforce from within the borough, procuring materials and services from local businesses and continuing to deliver virtual training for local students and unemployed adults during lockdown, we hope to leave a positive legacy for Barking and Dagenham that endures long after these homes are completed.”



It’s time to lift the curfew!

Barking’s 500 year old Curfew Tower is set to get a makeover, if plans by Be First, the borough’s regeneration organisation, get the go ahead in July.

The plan is to declutter the approach to the tower and radically improve the landscaping to make this historic gem more visible and a much more attractive place to sit, relax and visit.

A bronze model of the Saxon Abbey, to which the Curfew Tower was the principal gateway, will also be introduced to explain the historic importance of the site which includes the Abbey Ruins, Curfew Tower, and St Margaret’s Parish Church.

Colin Bannon, Be First’s Heritage Townscape Manager, explains: “In the past curfews have been used to shut people away, but with this project we want to do the opposite. We want to restore the Tower as the centrepiece of this historically important site and create a dramatic approach to it which will draw people in and encourage them to relax, and to learn about the history at the same time.”

The project includes reuse of the existing materials on site such as the Yorkstone flags and granite sets, and works to trim and maintain most of the existing trees, and has funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Be First also hopes that it will help to revitalise the quieter end of East street by enticing shoppers, local residents and visitors to explore the area and understand Barking’s rich history.

“We’re keen to hear what local people think,” adds Bannon, “and we have published the plans on our website.”

Plans to move City of London markets to Dagenham submitted

Plans to move the City of London wholesale markets to Dagenham Dock were submitted to Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, today (3 June).

The planning application proposes to move Billingsgate, New Spitalfields and Smithfield markets to the 42-acre site of the former Barking Reach Power station, at Dagenham Dock.

If approved, the site will be the largest wholesale food market in the UK.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “These proposals are a ray of sunshine in the otherwise gloomy Covid-19 climate and a massive vote of confidence in Barking and Dagenham as a place to do business.

“Dagenham is now a hive of activity with the construction of the UK’s largest data centre and University College London’s  (UCL)Pearl research facility  now underway, and London’s largest film studios on track to be built here too.

“These developments will create thousands of jobs locally, which will make Dagenham one of the most dynamic parts of the capital and will help power east London’s economy which has been hit hard by the Covid crisis.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “The plans to move the markets supports our aspiration to make Dagenham Dock a state of the art business park and build on the area’s impressive rail and port infrastructure to create a major growth hub for the Thames Estuary.”

The public consultation on this application is now open for local residents to comment on the proposals online here

The planning application will be presented to the council’s planning committee later this year.