Mayor gives go-ahead to major new film studios in Dagenham 

The Mayor has given his approval to plans by Be First, on behalf of Barking and Dagenham Council, to build the capital’s largest film studios in Dagenham, boosting the borough and London’s growing film and TV industries. 

The plans, which were approved by the council’s planning committee last month, will see six sound stages, productions offices and set construction workshops built on former industrial land in Yewtree Avenue. This will create an estimated 1,200 jobs and contribute £35m per year to the local economy.

The development follows a 2017 study, that was supported by the Mayor of London, outlining how Dagenham East represented an ideal opportunity for a new world-class film studio as demand for existing studio space in the capital grew.

Since then Dagenham has become a popular site for the film industry, with a new temporary studio already open and welcoming major productions, including Black Widow by Marvel and Morbius by Sony Pictures.

London’s culture and creative industries have been significantly impacted by Covid-19, but the demand for film and TV studios remains high and the industry will play an important role in the country’s economic recovery, with more than £3.6bn spent in the UK last year on film and television production.

The Mayor’s backing of the Dagenham plans will help regeneration company Be First as they discuss investment opportunities with interested parties on behalf of the company.

Last week the Government announced a £5m grant to the studios as part of the Getting Building Fund. This followed a bid from the Thames Estuary Production Corridor that also secured £3m to help modernise 3 Mills Studios in Bromley-by-Bow in a boost to east London’s culture and creative industries.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These spectacular new studios in Dagenham East will be a huge boost for the borough, the industry and our city.

“Our culture and creative industries have been significantly impacted by Covid-19, but our successful film and TV industries can play a key role in our economic recovery.

“These new studios will cement our position as a global capital for film and television, create 1,200 jobs and show the world that London is open to creativity – and always will be.”

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, pictured above with The Mayor and local business leaders, said: “Not only will our film studios make Dagenham London’s Hollywood, they will generate thousands of jobs and opportunities which is hugely important in the light of the gloomy economic outlook caused by Covid. These Dagenham studios will give hope to the people of Barking and Dagenham and to London as a whole.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “We’ve had a great deal of interest in the studio site and it’s clear that demand for studio space remains high in spite of the recession. We’re now assessing our delivery options and we expect to make a further announcement late in the Autumn. It’s clear that this could be a huge jobs generator for the capital despite the otherwise gloomy economic outlook.”

Plans to enhance setting of one of London’s oldest buildings approved

Proposals to improve the area around Barking’s 500-year-old Curfew Tower were approved last night (Monday,10 August).

The plans to open up views of the tower and improve the landscaping were approved at Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, said: “We’re massively proud of our heritage. For too long the Curfew Tower has been obscured from view

“These plans will give this building of huge historic significance the setting it deserves.”

A bronze model of the Saxon Abbey, to which the Curfew Tower was the principal gateway, will also be erected to help visitors understand the history of London’s oldest and most significant complex of ecclesiastical buildings.

The project, which will be undertaken by the Council’s regeneration organisation, Be First, will reuse existing materials on site such as the Yorkstone flags and granite sets and includes works to trim and maintain most of the existing trees. The project has funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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

David Harley, Be First’s Head of Regeneration, explained: “With substantial new development in Barking Town centre, it is important to cherish Barking’s rich history.  These public realm works will enhance the setting of the historic Curfew Tower raising awareness of the area’s heritage and create an attractive calm space for people to relax and have lunch.  This forms part of a wider National Lottery Heritage Fund project involving local schools and volunteers.”

You can see the plans on our website

More homes and art in the heart of Barking

Construction of an independent cinema, affordable housing and a new facility for older people – has started.

The development by Lindhill Properties, will replace the former Abbey Sports Centre in Axe Street in Barking.

It includes 170 homes for rent, and will include one, two and three-bedroom residential flats, 60 at affordable rent.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “It’s great to see another exciting development get underway in Barking. 

“It will provide affordable homes for local people, a new base for Care City to improve health services for our elderly residents, and together with a new Independent Cinema, will be another  great addition to the borough.” 

Lee Fitzpatrick Managing Director of Lindhill Properties said: “Lindhill are very proud and excited that the redevelopment of the former sports centre has commenced. It will provide much needed high quality residential properties and become a new destination development that the people of Barking can enjoy.” 

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, said: “This is a fantastic new development for the local community and with the Independent Cinema, it will make a big contribution to making Barking a thriving town centre.”

Sam Neophytou of Arthouse Crouch End, which will operate the two screen Independent Cinema with creative workshop space said: “We want to create a cinema for all in our community, which inspires creativity and local engagement, celebrates Barking and Dagenham’s industrious past and looks forward in hope to its creative future.” 

Robert McDonnell, Residential Fund Manager, Aberdeen Standard Investments, who have funded the development said: “We are delighted the Build to Rent development has commenced and look forward to providing both private and affordable rental accommodation to residents in 2022.” 

The development is set to be finished by June 2022.


New plans for a greener Gascoigne to meet the climate change challenge

Consultation is now underway on revised proposals to build 526 new homes in the latest phase of redevelopment of the eastern end of Gascoigne estate, as part of the borough’s commitment to meet the climate challenge head on.

The new flats and houses, which will be built for the council by the authority’s development arm, Be First, are proposed for the site at the junction of St Pauls Road and Ripple Road, a stone’s throw from Barking town centre.

The eco-friendly designs include blocks ranging from four to 14 storeys arranged around a network of green courtyards and a new public park.

At least two thirds of the new homes will be let by the council at affordable rents or for shared ownership.

The development would further extend the area’s reputation for being one of the greenest in the borough.

Due to its proximity to the town centre, with its array of public transport options, the development is largely car-free, and features almost 900 cycle parking spaces.

And, the plans also include extensive tree-planting, connection to the local district energy network, green roofs and solar panels, as well as courtyards and the 1.25 acre Gascoigne Park itself.

Project Director, Dubravka Polic, explains: “We’ve decided to revisit our plans to meet the climate change challenge which faces us all.

“They still include much-needed, affordable homes for local people but the difference is that the new plans will be centred on greener living and reducing the need for cars, helping to make cleaner air quality for this and the next generation.

“Most things you need – shops, transport and a large range of leisure options – are within easy walking distance, reducing the need for cars and allowing for a much greener environment.

“We’re very interested to hear what local residents think about these new ideas for more sustainable living before we submit a formal planning application.”

Councillor Andrew Achilleos, Barking and Dagenham Council Member Champion for Climate Change, said: “We all have a part to play to tackle climate change, and so far, the council has already taken a number of measures to reduce its carbon footprint, including a pledge to end single-use plastic and switching some of our fleet to using electric rather than diesel.

“The eco-friendly designs proposed for Gascoigne are another step towards a greener borough and I urge residents to take part in the survey and give their views.”

In recognition that, the pace of development in and around Gascoigne is very high, and that is why residents are being consulted. Be First is offering prizes to people who participate in the survey.  The first entry picked at random will win a £25 Amazon voucher, with two £10 vouchers for the next survey entries drawn out of the hat.

The plans and survey are available online at and the closing date is 23 August.