Modular is marvellous says council leader

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has described 13 new modular council owned homes in Barking as ‘marvellous’ following a tour of a show flat this week.

Cllr Rodwell said: “There’s a myth that modular homes are just a cheap type of prefab but from what I have seen here today at Sugden Way, nothing could be further from the truth.

“These new flats look absolutely marvellous and will provide well built, top quality homes for local people.”

The new homes were manufactured in a Dorset factory by Rollalong and are being built in Sugden Way, Barking, as part of a development managed by Be First for Barking and Dagenham Council.

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First said: “At Be First we’re embracing the latest technology to build top quality new homes fast and deliver them at rents the people of Barking and Dagenham can afford.”

Clive Harris, Construction Manager at offsite modular manufacturer Rollalong, said: “This is a very exciting project which will provide a range of high-quality, affordable housing for people in Barking and Dagenham, and we’re delighted with our progress so far.

“There is a shortage of housing in the borough and our modular alternatives to traditional construction offer a real opportunity to address the shortfall in approximately half the time.”

The new homes will be completed next month. They feature one, one bed flat, eight two bed and four three bed flats.

You can here the discussion between Cllr Rodwell and Iain Ferguson here.

Call to creatives – design our heritage mural

Be First has joined forces with The National Lottery Heritage Fund to offer a £20,000 commission to an artist, or artists, to create a heritage mural in Short Blue Place, Barking.

The plans to commemorate Barking’s forgotten history were hatched by local heritage volunteers who have been researching the area’s lost history.  They have unearthed information about the development of the town since the earliest times, through the town’s emergence as a centre for fishing and farming and the building of the famous Abbey in AD666, up to modern times.  On the way, they have examined the history of many of the buildings that have been demolished, such as the Windmill, the Tudor Leet (court) House and, more recently the workhouse and Bascule Bridge.

Heritage group coordinator, Simone Panayi, of Be First, explains: “Our heritage volunteers have helped to reveal just how rich and varied Barking’s history is, and we want to create a permanent reminder for everyone to enjoy, and that will attract visitors to the town centre.

“We’ve surveyed local residents, to see what they are most interested in, and now we want someone with creative flair to create a stunning mural or similar artwork, incorporating this ’Lost Heritage’ theme at Short Blue Place.

“So, we’re delighted that we have backing of The National Lottery Heritage Fund to offer a commission to our very talented artistic community”.

The successful artist, or artists, will be expected to design, create, and install the heritage wall and linked interpretation, potentially including an art trail, to a professional standard.

Further details and the brief for the project are available at  Applications must be received by 30 November 2020.

Dagenham film studios project moves forward

The development of London’s largest films studios is set to be considered at Barking and Dagenham Council’s cabinet this month (20 October).

A report drawn up by the council’s regeneration arm, Be First, recommends that the most effective way to deliver a world-class film and TV production centre in Dagenham would be to lease the site to a studio operator on the proviso they build and manage the studios.

This comes after extensive discussions with potential bidders and industry experts and the formal granting of planning permission for the studios last month.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said the proposals offer the best way to deliver the transformational project.

He said: “Demand for film production facilities in the UK remains incredibly high, so it’s not surprising we received a great deal of interest in the Dagenham studios project.

“We received very strong bids to develop the studios and following evaluation, we are recommending the council agrees a long lease to the best of these operators.”

If the cabinet agrees to the proposals the council’s chief operating officer will be given authority to lease the land to the preferred bidder.

A further announcement on who the Council will lease the land to will be made in November if Cabinet agrees to the proposals.


Council Leader visits innovative project turning historic building into housing

The conversion of a former convent in Dagenham into new housing is beginning to take shape and the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell visited the site this week to see how work was progressing.

Cllr Rodwell was joined by Iain Ferguson of Be First and Paul Hart of Murphy Group who are refurbishing the Sacred Heart site into 29 homes for rent at below market price.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to see the Sacred Heart convent still retaining its character while having a new lease of life as housing for local people. The 29 new homes will give an opportunity to local people and families to find a place to live at a reasonable rent.”

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First said: “I am pleased to see the redevelopment of Sacred Heart coming along so nicely. At Be First we’re determined to build not only homes local people can afford, but also homes they can be proud of, and this sensitive conversion of an historic building reflects our commitment to excellent design.”

Paul Hart  said: “As a family-owned company that works in line with our values, we always try and support the communities where we work. We’re really pleased to be involved in this project that does exactly that, and one that will retain the historic character of the Convent when it’s completed its transformation into new homes for local families.”

The development in Goresbrook Road, Dagenham will see the refurbishment of the disused former convent into nine new flats and the construction of 20 new homes around the original building.

The development is due to be completed by September 2021.



Residents asked for views to help shape the borough

Residents, businesses, and developers in Barking and Dagenham are being asked to share their views on the future of the borough as the council launches a new public consultation on the emerging Local Plan.

The Local Plan sets out the visions for the future of the borough until 2037 and covers a wide range of issues, including the council’s commitment to build new homes, create new jobs, tackle climate change, and create vibrant and healthy communities across the borough.

Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing, said: “Our borough is leading the way in London’s eastward expansion and this will bring huge amount of economic opportunities for local people.

“However, there are also big challenges we all face, such as climate change and a post-Covid world, which will affect the borough’s social, environmental and economic future. It’s why it’s so important that local people get involved today to help shape a better tomorrow.”

This is not the first time the public have been invited to share their views on the future of the borough.

The first round of public consultations was held from November 2019 to February 2020, with many local residents and community groups getting in touch to share their thoughts, which helped shape the latest version of the Local Plan.

This is the last opportunity for the public to have their say on how the borough should grow and develop, and the council encourages all residents to share their views.

A draft of the Local Plan for Barking and Dagenham is now to view at and on the council’s website 

The consultation will run from Monday 5th of October to Sunday 29th November.

Redevelopment accelerates in Barking

The building of hundreds of affordable homes is moving forward in one of London’s largest estate renewal programmes.

And there to see the construction of the first 52 homes take shape on Barking’s Gascoigne estate this week, was Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, Iain Ferguson of Be First, and Steve Kitchen of Willmott Dixon, who are building the homes for Be First.

Councillor Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great to see the redevelopment of the Gascoigne accelerate. These are just the first of over 1,300 new, quality affordable homes for local people which are under construction or in planning and will be part of one of the largest, most sustainable housing developments in London.”

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First said: “Be First continues with its ambitious programme of delivering thousands of new affordable homes across the borough. Covid and a No Deal Brexit will damage our local economy but by pressing on with developments like this are helping to improve the future for local people.”

Steve Kitchen, Director at Willmott Dixon said: “We are delighted to be entering the construction stage of the first new homes on the Gascoigne estate and are looking forward to deliver high quality, sustainable homes which will benefit the local community for many years to come.”

The news comes as a revised planning application was submitted for 526 homes on the Gascoigne which will make the development among the greenest in the capital.

Lukas Thiel, Director, White Arkitekter said: “It’s incredibly rewarding to see Gascoigne East taking shape on site, demonstrating that high-quality, affordable and sustainable neighbourhoods are achievable through strong collaboration and a clear shared vision. Our designs make efficient use of daylight conditions in the public realm, promoting walking and cycling to ensure that all residents enjoy the benefits of a cohesive and healthy neighbourhood.”

The plans include:

  • Blocks ranging from four to 14 storeys arranged around a network of green courtyards and a new 5,130 sqm Gascoigne Park
  • 65 per cent of the new homes will be let by the council at affordable rents or for shared ownership – with rents starting from £159 a week for a one bedroom flat (2020/21 prices).
  • Almost care free development featuring almost 1,115 cycle parking spaces plus 53 on-street car parking spaces, three per cent of which will be dedicated blue badge.
  • Extensive tree-planting, connection to the local district energy network, green roofs and solar panels
  • Underground waste system – which cuts CO2 emissions from waste vehicle traffic and cleaner environment and streetsThe affordable homes will comprise flats at  Affordable Rent, London Affordable Rent and some Shared Ownership properties.