300 pupils pedal into 2020 Bike to School week

Over 300 pupils are taking training lessons at Barking and Dagenham schools this year, as the delayed 2020 Bike to School week gets underway.

The national ride-to-school initiative, which was rescheduled from its usual spot in May due to Covid-19, will see bikeability training delivered in 25 local schools.

Bikeability is a cycle training programme that provides children with the skills, knowledge and understanding to cycle safely on the roads. Lessons will be delivered by local cycling experts, Vandome Cycles, on behalf of Be First and Barking and Dagenham Council.

Funmi Atolagbe, Be First’s London Riverside Travel Plan  coordinator, explains: “We’re delighted to finally give Bike to School Week a push start. Some 25 local schools have signed up to bikeability cycle proficiency training and everyone stands to benefit.

“For the children and parents, cycling is a great way to fitness and better health and we all benefit from better air quality and reduced traffic.

“Bike to school week is a great way for children, parents and teachers all to give travelling to and from school by bike a go.”

Local bikeability instructors, Vandome Cycles, will deliver the training at each of the schools.

Vandome’s Russell Coe, said: “Our training starts with the most basic skills but teaches children to cycle safely and responsibly, showing them how to share the road and communicate with other road users and to understand signals, signs and road markings.

“Importantly we make sure that we give them confidence for all kinds of cycling in the future, in a fun and enjoyable way which is not only is good for the children’s health & fitness but also is better for the environment, and us, than a car journey.”

The bikeability training is provided with the financial support from the Mayor of London.  Anyone interested in getting started with cycling is encouraged to go to https://www.lbbd.gov.uk/cycling-in-the-borough


And as part of the push get more people to cycle, Sustrans are encouraging residents to take up cycling in the Becontree Heath area.

They are running a series of learn to ride sessions in Valence Park. These will take place every Friday until the 30th October 2020.

Isaac Olalokiki (17) who took part in one of the sessions, said: “I thought I would struggle so badly as previous attempts, when younger, failed miserably but Sustrans’s methods really worked and have greatly improved my confidence in cycling. I can’t wait to get own bike and cycle everywhere.”

If you are learning to cycle, cycle training by an experienced instructor is a useful way to gain confidence and riding skills. Sustrans are offering cycle training to everyone who wants to undertake it, free of charge.

To find out more and book a session please visit: https://www.greeningthefiddlers.org/upcoming-activities or contact hana.goodman@sustrans.org.uk



A13 tunnel will turbo charge East London economy

Barking and Dagenham Council, together with its urban regeneration company Be First, have submitted a representation to the government’s comprehensive spending review to request investment for a game-changing transport package that could deliver 30,000 homes by 2041 and unlock 12,000 homes more immediately in the Castle Green area.

The proposal would see the construction of a tunnel adjacent to the existing A13 that would eventually replace the current dual carriageway that blights the area with noise and pollution. This would facilitate the creation of a new Overground station at Castle Green that would also act as a catalyst for 12,000 new homes at Castle Green and economic growth across the region, bringing 6,000 additional jobs and high quality industrial space to the area.

The project will also complement existing initiatives aimed at levelling up and unleashing the potential of East London by supporting freight, logistics and enhanced port facilities at Dagenham Dock. Additionally, It will aid the relocation of the City of London’s wholesale markets to the borough, thereby delivering growth and opportunities that will flow into London and right down the Thames Estuary.

From studies conducted by Arup, Jacobs and Farrells on funding, economics and strategic transport in the borough, the project would directly unlock £1.7bn in land value uplift for the wider area and provide a chance to build genuine high quality and affordable homes to help mitigate the capital’s housing crisis.

Furthermore, the tunnel is also an infrastructure project that can be delivered at relative speed ahead of 2030 and would be constructed under a phased delivery model that minimises disruption in the borough.  The total cost of tunnel plus station being £800m which would be more than recouped from the development value that would be created. The scheme being able to be delivered within the life of the existing Design Build Operate contract for the road.

Initially the Borough is seeking £5m to complete full design work and a detailed business plan.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, said: As London moves east, the need to invest in infrastructure to advance the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic has never been so important. The tunnelling of the A13 will deliver game changing economic, social and environmental benefits not just to the residents of Barking and Dagenham, but importantly, one that will support high-quality employment growth to level up one of the most deprived areas of the country.




A sustainable future for Gascoigne

Plans to build a further 226 new homes as part of one of east London’s largest housing redevelopments were approved this week.

Councillors at Barking and Dagenham Council agreed to the proposals for the new homes on Barking’s Gascoigne estate thanks in part to the fact that the latest development will be one of the greenest in London.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Councill said: “This is great news. These plans deliver more really affordable homes for local people and set new standards for the quality and sustainability of council owned housing . These plans will create a great place to live and make better use of resources which will save residents money and help reduce environmental impact.”

The  proposals include:

  • 226 new homes, with rents starting from £159 a week for a one bedroom flat
  • Spacious tree-lined courtyards and play areas
  • Green roofs and rain gardens, photovoltaic panels and a connection to the existing local heat network will make this a carbon zero development in one of the buildings
  • 414 cycling spaces

Jacob Willson, Head of Design at Be First, said: “We are dedicated to delivering quality, affordable and sustainable developments which move us towards our zero carbon ambitions. It has been a pleasure working with residents and Pitman Tozer Architects on this exciting phase of the Gascoigne Estate.”

Luke Tozer, Director, Pitman Tozer said: “Following on from the work of White Arkitekter in Phase two, this next phase in the development of the Gascoigne East estate brings forward two parcels of land, Plots I & J,  that will help to seed the subsequent development to the south.

“We’ve been working closely with Be First to create designs that optimise offsite construction as well as minimise the Carbon footprint, achieving Net Zero Carbon on plot J, with all homes being dual aspect in a stacked layout.

“The buildings are a backdrop to the public realm design by Turkington Martin which is key in the drive to build upon a sense of place within regeneration of the Gascoigne East Estate.”

Up to 55 per cent of the development will be affordable, with 29 per cent at London Affordable Rent, 26 per cent, below market rent (80 per cent)  and 41 per cent for private rent.

More homes and local labour coming to a former job centre site

Construction of 90 affordable homes at a former Job Centre site in South Dagenham started this week. 

The development in Chequers Lane is the result of an innovative agreement between Barking and Dagenham Council and Hollybrook Ltd, who will build the homes for the council. 

Initially the site had planning permission for 77 homes of which only 16 per cent were affordable but thanks to an agreement brokered by Be First all the homes will now be affordable, with rents starting from £159 a week for a one bedroom flat*. Once the homes are complete they will be handed over to Barking and Dagenham Council. 

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council met Director of Hollybrook Ltd, Kevin Parsons at the site to see how work was progressing. You can see what they had to say here.  

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “This development is a win-win for the people of Barking and Dagenham – we get 90 more affordable homes for local people built by local labour. 

“And it’s just the start of great things to come for Dagenham, we have thousands of homes coming at Beam Park, hundreds of jobs on their way as part of plans to relocate the City of London markets and, of course, London’s largest film and TV studios coming soon at Dagenham East.” 

Ed Skeates Development Director at Be First said: “This is a great and safe investment for the Council. It will deliver 100 per cent affordable housing for local people.” 

Kevin Parsons, Development Director of Hollybrook said: “This is an important and very prominent regeneration project which will provide employment for approximately 60 local people during its construction.

“When we first acquired the site, it had planning consent for 77 apartments including only 16% affordable housing. We subsequently obtained consent for 90 homes, including 35% affordable housing which, thanks to Be First, has been increased to 100 per cent. We are very pleased to be involved in the delivery of this high quality regeneration project in collaboration with Be First.”

The total development costs for Barking and Dagenham Council is around £25m.  

The scheme is 100% affordable, 69% Affordable Rent (discount market rent), and 31% London Affordable Rent – with a rent for one bedroom flat starting at £159 a week at 2020/21 prices.


A revolution by the river

Consultation has started on a new industrial hub at the heart of the River Road industrial estate in Barking.

Dubbed Industria, the striking-looking building boasts top quality, flexible industrial workspaces in a modern structure that sets pioneering new standards for sustainability.

And, the experience for visitors and neighbours will be enhanced by a green wall, lively shopfronts and a new local café.

Lily Kwong, project manager for the council’s regeneration agency, Be First, explains: “Industria is a ground-breaking business development, designed to allow a large range of businesses to operate flexibly and efficiently on a compact, single site.

“It will provide modern business facilities with top quality sustainability credentials, to ambitious industrial enterprises of all shapes and sizes.

“Crucially, it will allow businesses to expand and grow in the borough, meaning more jobs for local residents.”

The building is proposed at the corner of Long Reach Road and Creek Road, and will consist of a three and a four story building, arranged each side of a courtyard. It will offer flexible light industrial units from 1,700-5,200 sqft (160-475 sqm) and flatted factory units from 140-2,500 sqft (15-230 sqm). The rents are expected to be in the region of £18-20 per sqft.

Access to the units will be via a vehicle ramp or goods lifts, with vehicle access across three floors. And, tenants will be able to take advantage of on-site parking and a business centre, with meeting rooms and a staffed reception.

The appearance of the building will be enhanced by fully glazed shop units and a cafe – open to the public, together with a green wall and high quality landscaping.

“We are keen to hear what local people – and local businesses – think about our plans before we apply to the council for planning permission”, adds Kwong.

More details of the project, and an opportunity to comment, can be found here.

We’re bringing art to the thriving heart of Barking

Piling work for the new House for Artists started in the heart of Barking this week.

The development on Linton Road, which has been backed by world renowned artist, Grayson Perry, will be home to 12 artists and features ground floor studio space for the artists to work with the local community.

It forms part of Barking and Dagenham Council’s plans to support home-grown talent and to attract artists and craftspeople to the borough, and has been supported by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has invested £690,000 towards the design and construction as part of his work to support the capital’s creative industries.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, invited Deputy Mayor for London, Justine Simons, and Hadrian Garrard, Chief Executive of Create London, to see how things were taking shape since the start of work in June.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “The House for Artists is a truly exciting project, providing a home for artists who are prepared to involve local people in their creative work.

“It’s a major boost to this area which already boasts a vibrant and growing artistic community, and new resources like the Ice House Quarter, 360 Barking and, of course, the Dagenham Film Studios.

“Barking and Dagenham is really taking off as one of London’s creative hotspots.”

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor of Culture and the Creative Industries said: “London is overflowing with talent and imagination, making the capital a place people want to live, work and visit. During these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we support our artists and so I’m delighted that building work is now starting on the House for Artists. It will provide creatives with much-needed affordable and secure workspaces and add to the growing cultural hub in east London.”

Hadrian Garrard, Director of Create explains: “As an organisation that brings local artists and communities together, this project sits at the heart of what we do. We are very excited to see it reach this important milestone.”

Local artist Sarina Mantle, who will be moving into the House for Artists, said: “I am really looking forward to this overall experience, alongside developing creative projects with fellow artists for our local community. It’s great that Barking is becoming more of a place that Artists can not only flourish but engage and encourage others to enjoy the arts too.”

The House for Artists will be rented at below market rates to 12 artists and their families, in return for working with local artists and the local community to develop the creative industries and creative works locally. The artists were selected by a panel including Grayson Perry, who will be creating a bespoke commission for the development.

The House for Artists is being built on behalf of the Council by Be First, and contractors Murphy Group.

Tom Mather, Construction Director at Be First, said: “The House for Artists illustrates our determination not simply to build thousands of affordable homes for local people but also culturally rich communities too.”

Nick Fletcher UK Managing Director of Murphy Group, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Be First and excited to be involved in supporting the local community through the House for Artists project.”

The development is due to be completed by September 2021.


Note to editors

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation & Rayne Foundation are supporting the public programme, which will launch in Autumn 2021.