Riverside homes for working Londoners at an affordable price

Councillors at Barking and Dagenham approved an agreement with Weston Homes this week to buy 62 new homes on their Town Quay Wharf development along the River Roding.

The decision means once the development is complete, the council will get the homes for around £14.6mil and then offer them for rent at affordable prices to local people.

The council homes will be part of a wider development on the River Roding which is one of London’s most atmospheric but little-known waterside locations.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “The River Roding is being transformed into one of the best places for waterside living in London. This new deal will give local people the opportunity to live in a fantastic development at genuinely affordable rates.”

Ed Skeates, Development Director at Be First said: “This decision is great investment for the council and local people. It means quality new homes at great rates in a superb setting.”

Bob Weston, Chairman & Chief Executive of Weston Homes says: “Weston Homes is delighted to have reached agreement to provide the affordable homes at Town Quay Wharf to Barking & Dagenham Council, these new Council homes will assist with the provision of much needed low-cost housing for local people. Town Quay Wharf will help to reconnect Barking town centre with the waterfront and create a vibrant new waterfront development with the apartments benefitting from a waterside and parkside setting.”

Bob Weston adds: “Weston Homes has established an excellent working relationship with Barking and Dagenham Council and Be First, its pioneering regeneration body, and this will be the company’s tenth residential development in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

“Town Quay Wharf and our neighbouring Abbey Quays scheme are providing the Borough with major inward investment and helping to revitalise the Barking waterfront, underlining Weston Homes role as one of the leading residential developers in the local area.”

Town Quay Wharf is a mixed-use development which will provide a total of 147 newly built one, two and three bedroom apartments, consisting of the 62 council homes and 85 private sale apartments, and 1,000 sqm of commercial space located in three new buildings designed around a public plaza overlooking the Mill Pond and River Roding.

The development is due to be completed in 2024/25 when the 62 new council homes will be handed over to the council.

To design the Town Quay Wharf development, Weston Homes worked closely with PRP Architects, heritage consultants Iceni, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Be First, the Borough’s pioneering urban regeneration company.

The architecture is inspired by the adjacent mill and maritime buildings with pitched roofs with dormer balconies, industrial warehouse style brick facades in contrasting colours, floor-to-ceiling windows, generously sized balconies and colonnaded raised ground floors.

On the ground floor of the buildings there are food and beverage commercial units and workshops and artist’s studios, alongside entrance foyers for the apartments on the upper floors. Scheme is complete with parking bays and cycle storage.

Along the waterfront, immediately to the north of the new Town Quay Wharf development, is Abbey Quays by Weston Homes which will provide 1,089 new homes of mixed tenure alongside retail, commercial and leisure facilities.

Marks Gate students produce inspirational art

Pupils from Rose Lane Primary School were presented prizes by local councillors for their winning entries in an art competition run by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration organisation.

Councillors Sade Bright and Simon Perry handed out the prizes to 11 children who took part in the Your Marks Gate competition inspired by the plants and wildlife that inhabits Padnall Lake and the Marks Gate area and also its wider history and heritage.

The competition ran for a month and included all year groups across the school.

Assistant Deputy Headteacher Lara Marsh said: “Participating in the ‘Your Marks Gate’ art competition has been a fantastic opportunity for our school. We launched the competition by dedicating a whole day to the study of the history of our local area and doing art workshops in connection with this. We were delighted with the take up from our students and, as a result of the enthusiasm about the launch day, we have introduced extra local history and geography study into our curriculum.

“At Rose Lane we are passionate about the creative arts and teach much of our wider curriculum through this medium, so the competition sat beautifully within this. It’s wonderful that our pupils have been able to use the creative arts to get in touch with their local cultural identity and be proud of their community.”

Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Coordinator at Be First said: “It’s been wonderful working with Rose Lane Primary School and its community on this competition. We had such fantastic entries to the competition, our judges had a challenging time whittling it down to the winners! Well done to everyone involved.”

Up to three winners were chosen from each Key Stage, including Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS): Nursery and Reception, Key Stage 1 (KS1): Year 1 and 2, Key Stage 2 (KS2): Year 3-6.

Be First is working with local arts organisation Studio 3 Arts and artist Elaine Tribley to incorporate all of the children’s entries into a final digital artwork that will be displayed on the hoardings for the Padnall Lake development site.

This will ensure that there is a legacy to the competition and give the children and school a sense of pride and achievement for the wonderful artworks produced for the competition.

You can see all the winning entries here.

Guinness world record holder raises awareness of modern-day slavery

A cycling Guinness World Record holder is set to visit Barking and Dagenham on his way to Wembley today (11 July).

Gordon Miller, who is leading a gruelling bike ride, The Premier League & Euro 2020 Cycling Tour, during Euro 2020, will visit Barking and Dagenham on his way to West Ham United’s London Stadium and finally Wembley.

Gordon is on his final London leg of an approximately 1,000-mile ride visiting 20 English Premier League football clubs to raise awareness of modern-day slavery and child trafficking in sport.

He will visit the east London borough, which was home to world cup winners Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Alf Ramsey, to meet leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, and young cyclists from Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club (BDCC) who will join him on his short journey to The London Stadium.

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great to welcome Gordon to our borough, which has produced so many great footballers. He is doing a fantastic job raising awareness about the scourge of modern slavery and we’re backing him all the way to ram this important message home.”

Gordon said: “It’s fitting that we’re visiting the home borough of several of our only previous major tournament winners on the day that England play in the Euro2020 final. The backing for Ride For Freedom from Be First and BDCC demonstrates their commitment to support our mission to raise awareness, educate and forge partnerships to end modern slavery.”

Russell Coe of BDCC said: “Hopefully in some small way Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club is contributing to rid us of this evil modern slavery trade.”

There are more than 40 million women, children and men worldwide in some form of slavery on any given day, according to the Global Slavery Index. The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2020 Report notes that “within Europe’s soccer industry alone, it is estimated there are 15,000 human trafficking victims each year”.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration organisation, which is backing Gordon’s bike ride, said: “Sadly the misery of human trafficking is all too prevalent in a number of industries , so we’re pleased to back Gordon’s effort to highlight this problem in sport, just as we do in the construction industry.”

Miller, the Ride For Freedom team leader and a human rights advocate, said: “Many of those trafficked in sport are youths. They are lured to Europe by promises of better lives and the opportunity of trials with professional football clubs that may lead to untold riches. It’s an under-reported crime that needs a light shining on it.”

The Premier League & Euro 2020 Cycling Tour will fund-raise to develop Freewheel by Ride For Freedom. Developed in partnership with, Unseen, the national charity that runs the Modern Slavery Helpline, Freewheel empowers survivors – women, children and men – of modern day slavery to cycle.

Miller set a Guinness World Record in October 2020 when he cycled 620.5 miles around England to spell the words “end modern slavery’. The verified challenge saw him become the title holder for “the largest GPS drawing by bicycle (individual)”.