Make it London boost to buzzing Barking

A six storey building at the heart of Barking will become home to London’s most exciting makers, food stars, retailers, content creators, designers, social enterprises and start-up businesses, Councillors agreed last night.

The exciting plans to makeover Roycraft House on Linton Road, Barking, are the brainchild of Make it London, who were awarded the contract to give a new lease of life to the former-council offices following an open competition run by the council’s regeneration organisation, Be First.

Make It London have operated within the affordable and creative work and cultural space sector since 2013, with successful spaces in Bow and Hackney Wick. The team plans to transform the Roycraft House into a multi-faceted destination for the local community and for visitors alike. It will provide a workspace hub for independent businesses together with an event, cafe and community space, a rooftop garden, a vast coworking floor and a series of public-facing creative facility spaces.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “Make It London will add to the buzz around Barking, generating jobs through the provision of affordable and inclusive workspaces for all, and generating excitement with a cultural hub for use by and with the community”.

The Council has awarded Make It London a 10 year lease, and the company will now start a period of intensive engagement with local community organisations before starting work to re-model the building. The team expects to open for business by Summer 2022.

Hannah Briley, Managing Director of Make It London, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be reimagining Roycraft House into an exciting multi-use asset for Barking and Dagenham.

“We believe there are some seriously exciting businesses and talent in the area who will thrive in an inclusive and flexible work environment.

“The last 18 months have been a real eye-opener for the workspace sector, with a lot of positives to take from the changes in the ways we now live and work.

“People are more imaginative with their business ideas than ever and there’s huge demand for flexibility from both freelancers and those who no longer need to travel to an office in central London.

“And it’s not just about workspace, it’s cultural, retail, social and entertainment spaces that are going through flux too.

“People are spending more and more time where they live and communities want and need to see local neighbourhood and town centre spaces reimagined into positive multi-use destinations where they can work, eat, drink, play, shop and socialise right on their doorstep.

“This is exactly our vision for Roycraft House, to create a destination for everyone to enjoy. It’s refreshing to finally see the attention shift from central London to fantastic boroughs like Barking and Dagenham and we’re really excited to be a part of that new perspective!”

‘We’re talking ‘bout real regeneration’, says east London council leader

Real regeneration is not about bricks and mortar, but hearts and minds, said east London council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell this week.

Barking and Dagenham council’s leader was speaking at a topping out ceremony to mark a major milestone in the redevelopment of the Gascoigne Estate and the launch of Be First’s Social Value report, Reasons to be cheerful.

The report highlights how the organisation’s building programme has been designed to stimulate wider regeneration in the borough, including providing more jobs and educational opportunities for local people, boosting local supply chains and creating a more sustainable model of development.

Cllr Rodwell said: “Real regeneration is about using our investment to power the local economy in a way that gives local people better opportunities. It’s much more than bricks and mortar, it’s about winning hearts and minds.”

Cllr Rodwell was at the ceremony hosted by Wates Residential to top out the first of 201 homes in its part of the development along Abbey Road in Barking.

The redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood will eventually deliver over 2,200 new affordable homes, tree-lined streets and new parks.  The new Gascoigne will be among the greenest and sustainable neighbourhoods in London with new ‘green’ roofs, including solar panels over 1,800 cycle spaces, and will be powered by a local District Heat Network.

Since Be First was established in late 2017, it has pumped £39m into the local economy, boosting local businesses and supply chains, while delivering quality modern homes for the people of the borough.

And around one in five of Be First contractors’ employees are local people.

Jared Birch, Deputy Construction Director, at Be First, said: “Wates Residential has been superb in helping us redevelop the Gascoigne area into what will be one of London’s most affordable and liveable neighbourhoods. They share our ethos of making sure our regeneration benefits the borough, environmentally, socially and economically.”

Adrian Fennessy, Operations Director at Wates Residential said: “Working with Be First, Wates Residential has put people from Barking and Dagenham front and centre of this project to provide over 200 new homes. As an example, 487 local residents have worked on the site, and 37 of these have been new opportunities. We will also be providing over 20 work experience placements.

“This will go a long way to leaving a lasting legacy that will benefit the borough. And as we near completion, people and families, who all deserve a great place to live, will be moving into these apartments next year and calling them home.”

Memorial mosaic honours movie mogul’s hall

A mosaic of a former East London landmark which was damaged by bombing in the Second World War is set to be installed on the site where it stood this week.

The artwork depicts a former Wesleyan Chapel in East Street in Barking, which then became a new Central Hall in 1928 thanks to funding from British movie mogul and Methodist J. Arthur Rank.

Artist Tamara Froud will be creating the artwork at Short Blue Place, the site of the old hall, as part of Barking Heritage Project’s heritage trail – which is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and managed by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration organisation.

Tamara said: “This is the first of a series of mosaics I will be creating to celebrate Barking’s rich history – hopefully people will be inspired and discover more about local heritage through the artwork.”

Simone Panayi, Be First Heritage Officer, who was born and bred in Barking, said: “The hall was a real landmark. It’s fantastic we are starting our heritage trail by resurrecting the memory of such an important historic building for the community on the site where it stood for so many years. It’s a comeback Rank Films would be proud of!”

The hall seated 1500 people and as well as worship it could be used as an entertainment venue, managed as part of the alcohol-free Temperance movement.

During World War Two War damage claims and salvaged furniture were dealt with at Central Hall.

It was hit by a V2 rocket in 1945 and partially destroyed.

The whole building was demolished after the war, around 1951.

East end students sample slice of London’s Hollywood

East London students enjoyed a taste of Hollywood this summer thanks to investment from the owners of London’s newest and largest film studios.

Barking and Dagenham College students Mohammad Hussain, 20, Demar Bellamy-Foster, 20, Carla Kelleher, 18, Afridjan Bracaj, 19, Jasmine Mustafa, 18, helped out film crews working on productions by Amazon, Apple and Netflix in the east London borough which is fast becoming known as London’s Hollywood.

Their placement with the media giants was the result of an education and training endowment fund set up by Hackman Capital Partners and The MBS Group (HCP-MBS) the new owners and operators of Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham and The Wharf Studios in Barking.

AJ Bracaj, 19, from Dagenham, said: “I had a really interesting experience working as a film marshal. This has been a great way to train for and enter the film and TV industry!”  

Carla Kelleher, aged 18 from Dagenham, said: “We had a great time on a new show for Apple TV. We worked for over a week and got paid! The production company seemed pleased with us and we also got the opportunity to work at the Tate when the production company filmed there.”

Mohammed Hussain, 20, from Ilford said: “We had a fantastic time at Warner Bros and were put up in a hotel for six weeks on a salary. Pretty good going for a summer job!”

Demar Bellamy-Foster, 20 from Ilford, who completed the work experience with classmate Mohammed Hussain, aged 20 from Ilford said: “We were super excited and we’re super proud to be a part of an experience like this!”

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, who met the students this week, said: “I am so pleased these students enjoyed their taste of Hollywood – they’ve certainly had a summer to remember!

“But this is just the start of many great things for young people in the borough and it’s because progressive companies like HCP-MBS understand their responsibilities to the community.

“They realise, like us, that Barking and Dagenham becoming London’s Hollywood is not just about making movies, it’s also about inspiring young people and helping them realise their dreams.”

Lisa Dee, Head of Film LBBD, which coordinates film making in the borough and who helped place the students, said: “I am delighted the students had such a fabulous time working on the productions and I am very grateful to Apple, Netflix and Amazon for their time and generosity.

“The fantastic support from HCP-MBS has been phenomenal. They absolutely get why we want filming and studios here – it’s about benefiting the local community.”

Jason Turton, Chief Operating Officer, Barking & Dagenham College and East London Institute of Technology, said: “There really isn’t a more exciting time for young people in east London to train for and enter the film and TV industry. With the new studios opening up locally and the amazing media facilities at the college, including the industry-standard Idris Elba Film Studio, there is no better time for them to choose to study media. Our close links with Film LBBD mean that our students get amazing real life work experience. It’s the perfect combination to get them into a great career.” 

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, which led the film studio site tender process, said: “Right from the start we said it’s no use building London’s largest studios if they don’t benefit the residents of Barking and Dagenham. It’s clear HCP-MBS is investing in hearts and minds as well as bricks and mortar.”

This week HCP received approval from Barking and Dagenham Council to an amendment to their planning permission.

Stephen Hursthouse, SVP for UK Studio Development at The MBS Group   said: “It was great to meet the students and congratulate them on their hard work and success. We are absolutely committed to ensure local people, and especially young people, benefit for having what will be London’s largest film studios on their doorstep.

“We look forward to delivering a world-class studio campus in the borough. Eastbrook Studios, and our wider HCP-MBS team, will continue to

to work together with the Council and Film LBBD to ensure we remain focused on diversity and inclusivity, while creating opportunities for local residents.”

Location Manager, Georgette Turner, who worked with the students and studied performing arts at the College twenty years ago, said: “The group of students I worked with this week were a great bunch and I wish them well in the future and hope to see them out there on set soon.”