Planning in Barking and Dagenham is getting digi with it

Householder planning applications are going digital as part of a drive by Be First to make the planning process more accessible and transparent.

Thanks to a successful bid to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities PropTech Engagement Fund, over £100,000 will be ploughed into digital tools to improve public engagement in the planning process.

The digital roll out will include:

• Development of an app to digitalise householder applications, creating 3D visualisation of the development proposal which will be stored as a video experience on the planning portal; and,
• Creation of QR codes on application notices to provide the public with easier access to planning application information.

Caroline Harper, Chief Planning Director for Be First said: “This is truly an exciting project. It can be really challenging to imagine how a householder extension might look based on technical drawings and descriptive words. We want to make this easier by using technology to create 3D images of what is being proposed. PlanTech is happening and we in Barking and Dagenham have so many ideas as to how we use it, so that the people living and working in the Borough are able to more easily engage with the planning and development process.”

The project runs from now until March, after which Be First hopes to be able to roll out a working app. Watch out for further press releases as we will be looking for people to help us in the testing and development phases.

Landmark art in the heart of Barking

A stunning piece of street art celebrating Barking’s rich heritage has been completed, bolstering the area’s reputation as London’s latest creative hotspot.

This mural design, chosen by residents, incorporates East Street, Bascule Bridge, Curfew Tower, Wellington Windmill and the River Roding, all key parts of Barking’s history.

Jake Attewell, the artist behind the mural, said, “It’s been great fun doing this and I hope the residents will love it as I feel it represents the rich heritage and vibrancy of Barking.”

The new mural can be seen on the side of McDonald’s on the corner of East Street.

Leader of Barking and Dagenham, Councillor Darren Rodwell, said “This is standout piece of art which will become a real landmark in Barking. It’s more evidence that Barking and Dagenham has firmly become London’s creative hotspot, with two film studios coming here and a flourishing arts community.”

The mural is the latest part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s programme of activities to show the public Barking’s vivid history.

Simone Panayi, Community Engagement Officer at Be First, said “Here at Be First regeneration means more than bricks and mortar – it’s about hearts and minds too – and we believe Jake’s stunning mural satisfies the soul.”

Cycling world record holder visits east end borough with a big heart

A Guinness World Record holder was given a heartfelt east end welcome from the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and local cyclists as he visited the east London borough today (18 October) on the last leg of his attempt to break another record and highlight the scourge of modern-day slavery.

Gordon Miller’s Guinness World Record cycling challenge is part of an approximately 2,900 kilometres (1,800 miles) cycle from Cadiz, in southern Spain, via France, to London, to highlight a documented human trafficking route from Africa to the U.K.

Miller, the Ride For Freedom team leader and founder, said: “It’s great to visit Barking and Dagenham again – it’s a borough with a big heart and a passion for social justice and fairness.

“I’m free to cycle but millions of people aren’t. They’re victims of human trafficking and trapped in modern day slavery. It’s a heinous crime that affects thousands in the UK and there are more than 40 million modern slaves worldwide. It needs to be eradicated.”
Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “Gordon’s Guinness World Record challenge and work to highlight the scourge of modern-day slavery is hugely important. It’s scandalous that slavery exists in what is meant to be a civilised society – it needs to be wiped out for good.”

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

Pat Hayes, Managing Director at Be First, which is backing Gordon’s record attempt, said: “It’s great to welcome Gordon to Barking and Dagenham. We’re proud to back him in his record attempt and quest to stamp out slavery.”

The ride, named El Gordo (which translated from Spanish means the ‘big/fat one’), is fundraising to support the development of Freewheel by Ride For Freedom. The programme empowers survivors of modern slavery to cycle to support their independence, mobility, mental and physical health and wellbeing.

The 18-day tour, which Miller rode solo in part and with other cyclists in England, is supported by bike manufacturer Orbea, for whom Miller is a brand ambassador, and sponsored by several companies. Marshalls Plc is the headline sponsor.

“I’m delighted to be associated with these purpose-driven companies,” said Miller. “Their support has enabled the ride to go ahead by underwriting the administrative, logistical and marketing costs to raise awareness to end modern slavery. It also contributes to the development of the Freewheel by Ride For Freedom programme.”

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)”.

Residents asked for views on growth

The Council is calling on local residents to take one last look at its final draft of the Local Plan this autumn.

The Local Plan is a vitally important planning tool that sets out where and what kind of development will be encouraged in Barking and Dagenham between now and 2037.

Consultation started at the end of 2019 and hundreds of comments and suggestions have been received and considered before the final draft was published this week.

Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet member for Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “I cannot stress enough how important the Local Plan is – it will help to determine the scale, pace and quality of development that takes place in the borough over the next 20 years and sets out how we will ensure that local people really feel the benefit.

“We’ve strengthened this plan very significantly since the last draft, in response to the hundreds of comments and suggestions we’ve received. So, I must thank everybody that responded, but ask them to take a final look before we submit the final draft at the end of the autumn.”

Every local planning authority is legally required to have a Local Plan which sets out where the council expects growth to occur and what kinds of growth it will support. It is a technical document but it is used by planners to determine whether investors, developers and builders’ plans are permissible.

The draft plan will be submitted to an independent planning inspector for examination by the New Year but the final public consultation will run from 11 October to until 28 November.

The draft is now available online

In addition, the Citizens Alliance Network is hosting a series of online presentations and discussions.

Wayne Trevor, Citizens Alliance Network project manager, explained: “As well as determining what sort of homes and jobs are available to local people in the next few years, the Local Plan also talks about lots of key policy issues such as how we protect and enhance the environment, and how do we encourage residents to live more active, healthier and more sustainable lives.

“These issues are vitally important for the borough so we’re keen to capture residents’ views and suggestions through our online workshops.”

Details of the workshops are available on the Council’s website. Search for Local Plan.