Artists from all over London and the UK met up with the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council to view the proposed site of the ground-breaking ‘House for Artists’ in Barking.

Councillor Darren Rodwell hosted a tour of Barking town centre, including the site itself, for artists who are interested in taking up residence at the project, which will be the UK’s first purpose-built house for artists.

The project, which is backed by Grayson Perry, will include 12 apartments rented out at 65 per cent of the local market rate as part of bid to attract and retain London’s creative community which has been priced out of expensive inner London areas such as Hackney, Haggerston and Hoxton.

As well as studios for resident artists, a community hall is part of the new building – and as part of their tenancies, the artists must all commit half a day each week to delivering a public programme of arts activities and education for local young people.

Councillor Rodwell said: “It’s great to welcome so many artists, not only from the borough but from all over London and throughout the country. It’s yet more evidence we’re becoming a magnet for artists who find the old east end too expensive and who know it’s Barking and not Berlin, where the art’s at.”

“As a council we will ensure that in our quest to grow our borough it is not just about bricks and mortar but hearts and minds in our determination that no one is left behind.”

Cllr Rodwell added, the House for Artists will be a genuine community asset which will inspire local people to get involved in the creative industries.

“I passionately believe the arts world massively needs people from places like Barking and Dagenham to get more involved. If we get more working people involved in the arts, the better, richer and more diverse the creative industries will be,” he said.

Cllr Rodwell was joined by Hadrian Garrard of Create London, who on behalf of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company, was tasked with inviting interested artists to apply to become tenants of the development.

Hadrian Garrard of Create London, which is inviting artists to apply to live at the development, said: “”We have been overwhelmed by the interest from artists wanting to apply for residency so far, showing just how needed and vital projects like A House for Artists are.

“For years, we’ve been hearing from artists about a lack of long-term, affordable and good quality homes, and so we are excited to be moving into the stage where these artists can start do just that – put down long-term roots and embed themselves in the communities they will live and work in.”

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, which is commissioning the project, said: “This new development will help London keeps its cutting-edge creative talent.

“The capital cannot afford to lose its arts community, not only in cultural terms but socially and economically too. The project will continue the growth of Barking’s arts scene and will help grow the local economy which will benefit local people.”

Project Ambassador Grayson Perry will be part of the panel interviewing applicants alongside representatives from Create, Be First, the GLA and local community

Astrid Smitham of Apparata said: “We developed this housing model with artists in mind but in a way that we think is relevant to everyone. The building has high ceilings, adaptable apartments and shared spaces to allow communities to form both inside the building and in the local area: with shared external balconies, a floor of co-housing and sheltered spaces to the street to welcome people into the building. It is great to finally introduce the project to the artists that will be calling the building their home.”