A park for peace opens in Barking

Hundreds of local residents flocked to see the opening of a pocket park co-designed by students in the heart of one of east London’s redevelopments.

EverDove Park in the Gascoigne neighbourhood in Barking opened to the public following a launch on Saturday 28 May.

The meanwhile park was built by Willmott Dixon on behalf of Be First with local residents involved in a series of volunteer days to paint, plant and help to transform the park, following a series of design workshops involving Year 10 students from Greatfields School, Be First Engagement team and architects HTA. The park transforms the ‘castle’ play area that has been unsafe and fenced off for years, reinvigorating it for new use.

It was named following a vote due to the location of the park on Dovehouse Mead and a reference to dove houses kept nearby in Tudor times.

Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Lead at Be First “Everdove Park truly is the result of fantastic community input and inspiration from young people. The name of the park not only truly reflects the history of the area but as the dove symbolises peace and the ‘ever’ refers to everyone, as the park is open to all. It reflects our commitment to inclusivity in making a better Gascoigne.”

Richard Paul, Headteacher at Greatfields School said: “We are so proud that our students have been involved in the design of this new park for the community. It has been a pleasure working with Be First and Willmott Dixon on this project, and we’re grateful to them for working so closely with the local community.”

Steve Kitchen, director at Willmott Dixon said: “It has been an exciting adventure working closely with the Greatfields School students and Be First to design and build this new outdoor space. The students have helped create an area with the aim of bringing a community of all ages together and this has been achieved in a truly collaborative and inclusive way. We’re delighted to be able to showcase the finished park to the local community and hope everyone enjoys it for many years to come!”

First homes completed on landmark development

The first of over 2,000 homes on one of London’s largest regeneration projects have been completed this week.

And to view the 52 homes in the Gascoigne neighbourhood in Barking was Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell.

The 52 homes include one to four-bedroom flats and three-bedroom town houses all of which are affordable and with rents as low as £168 a week.

Cllr Rodwell said: “This is a major milestone in building the new Gascoigne and our drive to make a better Barking and Dagenham. Once completed the New Gascoigne will be one the most family friendly, liveable and affordable neighbourhoods in London.”

Cllr Rodwell was joined by Tom Mather of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm and Steve Kitchen of builders Wilmott Dixon.

Tom Mather said: “It’s been a huge challenge to deliver these 52 homes with the huge challenges of covid and the massive rise in cost of materials.

“But we have got over the line and will continue to do so we deliver on our mission to building tens of thousands of quality homes for local people at rates they can afford.”

Chris Tredget, managing director at Willmott Dixon said: “We’re delighted to have handed over the first 52 homes as well as to be continuing the great work we’re undertaking on the regeneration on the east of Gascoigne estate. Working collaboratively with our customer Be First means that together we’re delivering exceptional quality, sustainable homes for the local community now and in the years to come.”

The news follows planning consent to build a further 334 homes on in the Gascoigne neighbourhood with rents as low as £168 a week.

The 334 new homes, designed by HTA architects, will feature over 50 family sized homes with three and four bedrooms, a lively garden square with children’s play facilities, and biodiverse private courtyards.

Adewole Ademolake, Development Manager at Be First, said: “These new plans demonstrate the council’s commitment to providing genuinely affordable, quality homes for local people and families with fantastic play areas and sustainable spaces for young people to have fun and grow-up in one of the greenest urban neighbourhoods in London.”

Simon Toplis, Partner at HTA Design “HTA design has worked closely with the community for the next phase of the Gascoigne Estate regeneration, which will deliver a range of housing designs with a strong focus on family living, further demonstrating that affordable housing does not need to compromise on quality and access to green space. These homes will be connected by transforming existing pedestrian routes to become a series of inclusive, biodiverse public spaces for the residents and wider community to enjoy, rather than simply being used to pass through the area.”

The design of this next phase has evolved from an earlier masterplan for the wider area led by HTA Design working with Pitman Tozer and Stitch, and is the most family focused phase so far, with streets of terraced houses enclosed by mid-rise mansion blocks.

The architectural approach references the distinctive Barking Town Hall and was designed with input from the community, including working with children from Greatfields school.

The design includes a combination of private gardens, intensive tree planting on green streets, rain gardens and a new planted public space, will deliver urban greening and maximise biodiversity.

We’re kick starting a cycling revolution

An east London borough is looking to kick start a cycling revolution following the huge success of a bespoke biking event last weekend.

Almost 10,000 people flocked to Abbey Green in Barking on Saturday (21 May) to enjoy the fun in the sun at BikeFest, sponsored by Amazon Key.

As well as the professional Tour Series cycle races, which were televised on Sunday night ITV4, residents enjoyed a huge range of activities including BMX bike displays, Salsa dancing workshops, live music, electric vehicles, information stalls from local campaign groups, and children’s entertainment.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “BikeFest was a huge success and it did exactly what it was meant to do: promoting sustainable and healthy travel in fun and creative way. Residents were involved on the track, on the electric vehicles and on the dance floor – it was wonderful to see.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First Regeneration, said: “Sustainability is central to our mission to accelerate regeneration for the people of Barking and Dagenham, and BikeFest really illustrated this.

“It demonstrated just how exciting, varied and practical cycling can be – from professional racing and daredevil stunts to everyday commuting and electric Lime bikes. We hope it will help to start a cycling revolution, to improve air quality and reduce traffic and congestion in the borough.”

Mick Bennett, Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series race director, said: “The Barking BikeFest will live long in my memory and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. It was a triumph for showcasing sustainable transport, healthy living and community engagement. It was fantastic to see so many families attending in anticipation and leaving with smiles on their faces.”

The community races, supported by Willmott Dixon and Weston Homes, gave hundreds of local people – aged from 3 to 64 – the opportunity to compete on the professional racetrack, under the enthusiastic gaze of their friends and loved ones.

There was also an all-abilities Cycle 4 All race – sponsored by EcoWorld – which demonstrated how inclusive cycling can be and providing an opportunity for disabled residents to cross the finish line and receive a medal.

Ends

Note to Editors
A selection of captioned photos is attached.

BikeFest was afree, family friendly event held on Abbey Green, Barking on Saturday 21 May It includied:
• The Tour Series – a thrilling evening of sporting action as Britain’s top professional cycling teams battled it out on the streets of Barking.
• Electric Avenue – a showcase of green travel technologies including the latest electric Lime bikes
• Community Races – a chance for residents to race on the circuit in a series of cycle races for all age and all abilities
• Green Village – kids zone, extreme bike displays, musical entertainment and activities and information from local environmental and community groups
See website for details and a photgallery: yourcall.befirst.london/the-barking-bikefest

Or check our twitter account @befirstregeneration, and the Tour Series YouTube channel.

Gear up for a capital cycling event

With just one day to go to one of London’s biggest sporting events this weekend a final clarion call for Londoners to come to the Barking BikeFest was issued today (20 May), by Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Saima Ashraf.

The event will feature the London leg of ITV 4’s Tour Series of professional racing and a wider celebration of cycling and sustainability with community racing, live musical entertainment and plenty of fun activities for all the family,

Cllr Ashraf, said: “ I am really looking forward to this spectacular event and celebration of cycling, sustainability and green travel. The weather forecast looks to be fine so hopefully it will be a fabulous fun day out for all the family.”

Cllr Ashraf was joined top cyclist Harrison Hunter who will be racing on Saturday in the Tour Series.

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “This family-friendly, free-to-attend festival is going to unforgettable, topped off with the sight of seeing Britain’s fastest men and women battling it out to take Tour Series glory. Don’t miss it!”

And for the first time ever, the Tour Series will be giving equal billing to women’s and men’s races.

To celebrate this the winner of the women’s race with the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – honouring the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.

Cllr Ashraf added: “It’s make sense that the borough will host the first ever gender equal cycling race. This borough has always led from the front in fighting for justice and fairness from the suffragettes to the Ford women strikers.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “The Barking BikeFest will be a unique event which will celebrate cycling and sustainability. I am sure it will be a great day out for Londoners in what will hopefully be a glorious late spring day.”
The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm around the historic Abbey Green on Saturday 21 May and will also include:   
• Community racing for all ages and abilities – there is still time to sign up. Anyone interested should go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bikefest-community-races-registration-314421783017. The races are sponsored by Willmott Dixon and Weston Homes
• Marvellous music from Kasai Masai, whose lead singer has played at Glastonbury, Roberto Pla, who has performed with the like of Kate Bush, and Redonizm
• Kid’s Zone, there will be plenty for them to do, with entertainment from Kid’s People, arts and crafts
• Electric Avenue – showcasing green technology including e-bikes, electric cars and Bin Bot – a giant green robot!
• BMX and mountain bike display team from the daredevils of Fusion Extreme who will be wowing the crowd with their stunts
• Inflatable goal for penalty takers laid on by the community team from Dagenham and Redbridge FC

Further details are available from https://yourcall.befirst.london/the-barking-bikefest

Buckle up for the Barking BikeFest

It’s just days away from what will be one of London’s biggest sporting events this weekend when professional cyclists on ITV 4’s Tour Series come to Barking on Saturday, 21 May.

It’s been three years since the series last visited the capital and as part the day, Be First and Barking and Dagenham Council will be hosting the Barking BikeFest.

Sponsored by Amazon Key the event will be a wider celebration of cycling and sustainability.

And for the first time ever, the Tour Series will be giving equal billing to women’s and men’s races.

To celebrate this Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council will be presenting the winner of the women’s race with the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – honouring the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great such a top sporting event is coming to Barking and hopefully visitors and local people will be able to enjoy a fabulous festival of fun and entertainment in the stunning, historic setting of Abbey Green. I am especially proud to be presenting the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – it’s apt as this borough has always led from the front in fighting for justice and fairness from the suffragettes to the Ford women strikers.”

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “The countdown to the Barking BikeFest is now well and truly on! This family-friendly, free-to-attend festival is going to unforgettable, topped off with the sight of seeing Britain’s fastest men and women battling it out to take Tour Series glory. Don’t miss it!”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “The Barking BikeFest will be a unique event which will celebrate cycling and sustainability. I am sure it will be a great day out for Londoners in what will hopefully be a glorious late spring day.”
The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm around the historic Abbey Green on Saturday 21 May and will also include:   
• Community racing for all ages and abilities – there is still time to sign up. Anyone interested should go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bikefest-community-races-registration-314421783017. The races are sponsored by Willmott Dixon and Weston Homes
• Marvellous music from Kasai Masai, whose lead singer has played at Glastonbury, Roberto Pla, who has performed with the like of Kate Bush, and Redonizm
• Kid’s Zone, there will be plenty for them to do, with entertainment from Kid’s People, arts and crafts
• Electric Avenue – showcasing green technology including e-bikes, electric cars and Bin Bot – a giant green robot!
• BMX and mountain bike display team from the daredevils of Fusion Extreme who will be wowing the crowd with their stunts
• Inflatable goal for penalty takers laid on by the community team from Dagenham and Redbridge FC

Further details are available here

Trailblazing planning team in tight fight for top award

Be First’s Planning Consultancy team has been shortlisted for the RTPI’s ‘Small Consultancy of the Year’ award, today.

The team were shortlisted for the prestigious award because of their excellent delivery and work in delivering a socially responsible model of urban regeneration.

Anna Sinnott, Director of Planning Consultancy at Be First, said: “It’s a real thrill to be shortlisted for this award. The team has grown from strength to strength since we set up and have provided our clients with an excellent, efficient, and resilient planning solutions.

“This nomination is a testament to the team’s professionalism and talent and their close working relationships with their clients.

“But most importantly, it demonstrates that we are on the right track in bringing real regeneration to the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

The winners will be announced in July at the RTPI London Planning Awards for Excellence.

Amazon Key to sponsor unique East London cycling event

Amazon Key has today been announced as the headline sponsor of the Barking BikeFest next month which will feature the only London leg of the Tour Series cycling race which is televised on ITV4.

Amazon Key provides safe, secure and convenient deliveries to customers enhancing the Amazon delivery experience for staff and residents of apartment buildings.

It is a further commitment to the borough by Amazon which opened a new delivery station in Barking in November last year, serving customers based in the Barking area. The delivery station has created more than 50 permanent jobs, in addition to hundreds of driver opportunities for Amazon Logistics’ delivery service partners and Amazon Flex delivery partners.

Amazon Key will join Weston Homes, Countryside and L&Q, Willmott Dixon, and the Project Centre as sponsors of the event.  

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic that Amazon Key has decided to sponsor the Barking BikeFest and shows their commitment to Barking and Dagenham.   

“The Barking BikeFest will be a unique event which will celebrate cycling and sustainability and will for the first time give prominence to women’s cycling with the presentation of Mary Wollstonecraft Cup to the winner in honour of the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough. I am sure it will be a great day out for east Londoners in what will hopefully be a glorious Spring day.”

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “We’re super excited that Barking and Dagenham will be hosting the London leg of the Tour Series. The historic Barking Abbey will provide an amazing backdrop to the Tour Series for the thousands of visitors and cycling fans that we expect on the day.  We commend the commitment of Be First, the council and their sponsors to create a whole celebration of cycling, healthy living and green travel to complement the Tour Series – it’s bold, ambitious and far sighted.”

Winners of the women’s race will receive the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup after the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.   

The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm around the historic Abbey Green on Saturday 21 May
and will also include:   

• Community BikeFest –participation events on the race-course for local people  
• The Green Village – community fun and entertainment on Abbey Green  
• Electric Avenue – showcasing green travel technology 

Further details are available from https://yourcall.befirst.london/the-barking-bikefest