Gas bill busting homes take shape in Dagenham

Building of 63 affordable homes in Dagenham reached a major milestone at a topping out ceremony this week.

Once complete the new homes in Oxlow Lane will be heated by an air source heat pump meaning they will be gas free.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, who met George Legg of builders Mulalley and Jared Birch of Be First at the event, said: “It’s great to see these new affordable homes for local people take shape.

“And as we face a cost-of-living crisis, because they will be gas free tenants’ energy bills will be more stable and withstand the volatility of gas prices which we’re seeing now.”

George Legg, Mulalley Construction Director New Build Division said: “Mulalley is proud to have worked in partnership with Be First to help them deliver the Oxlow Lane scheme and create these high quality and much needed new affordable homes to support the local community.”

Jared Birch, Deputy Construction Director said: “Despite the massive increase to commodity prices in the construction sector, Be First is continuing to deliver affordable homes for the people of Barking and Dagenham. This is because of excellent forward planning and outstanding co-operation by contractors such as Mulalley.”

The 63 homes will be rented out a low as £168 a week at today’s prices for a one bedroom flat.

The development is due to be completed by December 2023

Industria – reaching new heights

A revolutionary industrial development in Barking has reached a major milestone at a topping out ceremony this week.

And to see how ‘Industria’ was taking shape was Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Jared Birch of Be First and Paul Heather of builders McLaren.
Once completed, ‘Industria’ will be the first multi-storey light industrial development to be built in the UK.

Cllr Rodwell said: “Industria will be a hive of industry hosting a range of makers, shakers and creators which will provide hundreds of jobs for local people. Industria will reach new heights in business development not only in east London but the UK.”

Industria will house tenants in flexible units arranged around a vehicle accessible multi-storey hub. The experience for visitors and neighbours will be enhanced by green walls, business lounge, lively shopfronts, and a new local café.

McLaren, the main contractor delivering Industria, is managing a complex programme of works. The contracting team installed a helical staircase to offer vehicle access to the upper floors of the development, using laser scanning to overcome structural challenges and turning the building into a fully connected industrial space.

During Industria’s delivery, McLaren is creating job opportunities in the local area by employing 38 tradespeople on site and offering apprenticeships in engineering and project management to young people in the community.

Paul Heather, Group Managing Director, McLaren Construction, said: “We’re delighted to reach the highest point in delivering the UK’s first light industrial space. Our team is creating much needed workplaces for businesses to expand in and bringing exciting opportunities to the local community. Working collaboratively with Be First, our team is successfully managing rising costs in some materials on the project with fixed-priced contracts, including structural steelwork, precast concrete panels, lift shafts and stairs, composite and built-up external cladding systems for the façade and roof, helping us stay on programme and on budget to complete the scheme in February 2023.”

Jared Birch, Be First’s Deputy Construction Director said: “Although the construction industry is suffering from massive inflationary pressures like other sectors and the wider public, early prudent planning is enabling us to cope and deliver innovative developments such as Industria so we can accomplish our mission to create more jobs and homes for the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

Industria is supported by £1 million of the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, delivered through the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), alongside Barking and Dagenham Council’s investment of £37 million.

Other key features include:

• Four storey core buildings arranged each side of the courtyard
• Flexible light industrial units from 1700-5200 sq. ft (160-475 sq. m) and flatted factory units from 140-2500 sq. ft (15-230 sq. m)
• Goods lifts and vehicle ramp with vehicle access across three floors
• Business centre, meeting rooms and staffed reception
• Fully glazed ground floor shop units with a cafe open to the public
• On-site parking and cycle parking
• Excellent BREEAM rating for sustainability and environmental impact
• Top quality landscaping
• An estimated 350-300 people employed on site
Industria is just yards away from 12 Thames Road, an industrial/residential hybrid development under construction in what is fast becoming known as the Factory District – a mixed-use destination that reflects the area’s heritage and combines new homes with a future-proofed industrial offer.
Cllr Rodwell said: “With Industria and 12 Thames Road we are looking to create a new Factory District which will transform a dated industrial area which will deliver jobs, modernise the local economy and provide homes fit for the future. It will be a new industrial revolution by the rivers Thames and Roding.”

The building of Industria is expected to be completed by February 2023.

Make your voice count on development

Residents, local businesses, and organisations are being urged to comment on a crucial planning document which will shape the future of the Borough.

Planners from Be First are seeking views on the contributions that developers will be expected to provide in order to ensure necessary supporting infrastructure such as schools, green spaces and improves transport connections is delivered alongside new development.

The Local Plan is set to provide 44,000 new homes, and 20,000 new jobs in Barking and Dagenham. This consultation will be used to provide further clarity on the contributions that will be expected from developers to make development acceptable in planning terms.

Tim Thomas, Head of Transport, Infrastructure and Policy Planning at Be First said:

“Planning obligations are a key part of securing key infrastructure such as schools, health and social facilities, green space and improved transport connections all needed to make sure new developments work for local people. It is crucial that local people, businesses and organisations make their voices heard on the Council’s plans for what developers should contribute to, in order to ensure new developments are appropriately supported, and as such ensuring that the Borough remains a great place to live and work in.”

The online consultation period on the SPD will start from 26 September and end on 7 November 2022.

Planners from Be First (on behalf of the Council) are seeking views on the contributions that developers will be expected to provide in order to ensure necessary supporting infrastructure such as schools, green spaces and improved transport connections are delivered alongside new development.

To read the draft SPD and comment click here. Comments can also be submitted by email to, or by post to Be First, 9th floor Maritime House, 1 Linton Rd., Barking IG11 8HG.

East London housing block named after legendary Ford striker

A new housing block which will become part of a buzzing new Barking town centre has been named after a former Ford striker, Dora Challingsworth, who passed away earlier this year.

Dora’s family, including Daughters, Jill Watson and Tracy Goodman; Son, David Challingsworth and Granddaughter, Tiffany Goodman, joined Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Jared Birch of Be First and Michael Westbrook from Reside, to celebrate the naming of Challingsworth House, which feature 169 affordable council owned homes in three towers in Barking town centre.

Dora was a shop steward at the Ford Dagenham plant who led women strikers in 1984 to finally gain equal pay and status.

Tiffany said on behalf of the family: “We are enormously proud to be Dora’s family. She was courageous, energetic and selfless, both in her work and family life. Dora is greatly missed by many, but will continue to be an inspiration for years to come.”

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s a pleasure to meet Dora’s family and celebrate her life’s time work in fighting for fairness, women’s, and worker’s rights. Dora’s name will live on and will be immortalised in this fantastic new housing block.”

The three towers include one 20 storey block and two additional towers rising to nine and 10 storeys.

They feature 80 one-bedroom, 71 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom flats. A third of the homes will be shared ownership while the rest are offered at below market rent.

Kevin O’Brien, Chief Operating Officer at Be First, said: “It was a pleasure to meet Dora’s family today. We’re proud to help deliver such a superb building named after a woman who fought hard for ordinary people and equal rights.”

Cllr Rodwell added: “Challingsworth House will sit proudly at the epicentre of a new mini-Manhattan for all in the heart of Barking.

“It will be one of east London’s most buzzing, vibrant places where artists, artisans and everyday people can live, work, visit and enjoy.”

Toolbox masterplan in line for architectural Oscar

An ambitious plan to transform a corner of East London into the capital’s ‘toolbox’ has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Be First’s Chadwell Heath Masterplan is one of several projects in line for the NLA’s New London Awards in the Masterplans and area strategies category, one of 14 categories at these awards.

The masterplan’s shortlisting follows news of a Be First development, 200 Becontree Avenue, being shortlisted in the NLA’s housing category. The development in Dagenham was selected for its villa style design which sits alongside older homes built for heroes on the iconic Becontree Estate.

Caroline Harper, Chief Planning Director at Be First, said: “It’s fantastic to get shortlisted for the NLA’s as they’re the architectural equivalent to the Oscars.

“We’re proud of the work we’ve done on Chadwell Heath. It’s bold, innovative and will completely transform the area into a powerhouse for 21st Century industrial and residential living.”

The masterplan unveils proposals for a new neighbourhood on a 32-hectare post-industrial site.

Currently the area is blighted with poor infrastructure and multiple ownerships.

The masterplan envisages a future-facing, mixed-use place that rethinks industrial value in London.

Its overriding idea is that Chadwell Heath could become the ‘Toolbox for London’, a highly innovative place for making and industry.

Haptic Architects were approached to develop a creative strategy for intensifying the site with new uses, delivering around 4,000 new homes, open spaces and schools alongside an ambitious mix of industry and workplaces, with a particular focus on gaming, media and tech industries.

The aim is to target young people and families, bringing work opportunities and affordable homes together in an integrated, sustainable neighbourhood.

Scott Grady, Director, Haptic Architects, said: “This vibrant new neighbourhood will rethink the value of industry in our cities and the role it can play in bringing communities to life.

“Working across a range of scales, small and medium enterprises will have shopfronts to activate the new streets and squares, with large making- and production space, such as the Saw Mill building, creating new landmarks within the area. We’re delighted to see our vision shortlisted for an NLA Award.”

These awards are decided by the public, if you like either of our developments please vote for us:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Public Statement by the Leader of the Council on the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II

Borough united in grief at Her Majesty the Queen’s sad passing

Councillor Darren Rodwell, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, has said the whole borough will be united in grief at the passing of Her Majesty, The Queen.

Cllr Rodwell said:

“Our borough, the country and the world I’m sure will be united in grief with the news of Her Majesty’s passing.

“In 2015, the Queen visited the borough to mark our 50th anniversary as a London Borough and thousands flocked to see her.

“Meeting the Queen was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my life and certainly the highlight to date of my time as Leader of the Council.

“For 70 years the Queen reigned with grace, dignity and wisdom and she will be sorely missed worldwide.”

The formal notification of her death was issued on 8 September 2022 by Buckingham Palace. In line with official protocol and as a mark of respect the Union Flag is flying at half-mast at the Town Hall and will remain so until the official Proclamation, when it will be flown at full mast from 11am until sunset. It will then be lowered again to half-mast until sunset on the day of the funeral, the date and arrangements for which will be announced in due course.

There are of course opportunities for you to pay your respects locally.

Books of condolence are available for members of the public to sign. The books are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday at Barking Town Hall and Dagenham Library at the Heathway (which will also be open on Saturdays). In addition, a Borough online condolence book is available at Buckingham Palace have also published an online book of condolence at

The books will be available to sign until the day after the funeral.

More information on the local proclamation event will be available on our website soon.