Innovative Dagenham development crosses finishing line

Building work near a former Ford site in Chequers Lane, Dagenham, has been completed meaning 90 affordable homes are ready for local people to move into.

And to celebrate the completion of the ‘turnkey’ development, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell met Deon Browne from Be First and Kevin Parsons, Director of Hollybrook Ltd, who built the homes.

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great to see this quality affordable homes for local people completed. This whole area is in the fast lane of regeneration with thousands of homes coming to nearby Beam Park and of course we’ve got the City of London markets coming here too.”

Kevin Parsons, Director at Hollybrook, said: “This is a very high quality scheme delivered on time and on budget. It has been great to work with Be First and we are delighted that their first Turnkey development has been such an outstanding success.”

Initially Hollybrook had planning permission for 77 homes on the site, of which only 16 per cent were affordable, but thanks to an agreement brokered by the Council’s regeneration organisation Be First, all the homes are now affordable.

The new ‘turnkey’ agreement meant once Hollybrook completed construction, the council took ownership of 90 homes, with 69 per cent at affordable rent, and 31 per cent at London Affordable Rent.

Deon Browne, Construction Manager at Be First, said: “This was Be First’s and the council’s first turnkey deal and it’s great to see it cross the line. But we’re not resting on our laurels at Be First, we’ve got some great turnkey deals and other developments on track to deliver hundreds of great homes for local people.”

Low emission homes are topping out and cutting down

Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership & Engagement, Councillor Saima Ashraf attended a topping out ceremony at the Gascoigne Neighbourhood, marking the halfway completion of a further 215 affordable homes.

The structure of Gascoigne East Block F1 has been completed, meaning the construction of another 215 homes is now well underway.

The homes will consist of 1-bed, 2-bed, and 3-bedroom flats, 123 of which will be affordable rent or shared ownership.

Councillor Ashraf said of the development: “It’s great to see how far the redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood has come.

“We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, so I am proud to say we’re leading the way in London in building great affordable homes for ordinary working people.”

The redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood is one of London’s largest regeneration projects, which will also be a sustainable and cycle friendly development.

Dubravka Polic, Senior Development Manager from Be First said: “A key aspect of the development will be its sustainable and cycle-friendly credentials.

“There is a targeted 40 per cent cut in CO2 emissions from energy produced by the homes.

“There are also places for over 1,000 cycle parking spaces.”

The emissions will be cut using an array of rooftop photovoltaic cells and connection to the district heating system, meaning the development will have 40% less Co2 emissions than what is expected per Building Regulation guidelines.

Chris Tredget, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon said: “We’re delighted to reach the halfway milestone in delivering the next 215 homes for Gascoigne East.

“To be providing affordable, sustainable homes for the local community is something we’re very proud to be a part of.”

New ‘old east end style’ development takes shape

Building of a new ‘old’ east end style development in Dagenham has reached a major milestone following a topping out ceremony.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, who met George Legg of builders Mulalley at the event, said the design of the new development at Woodward Road would create an old east end style community spirit.

Cllr Ashraf said: “It is amazing to be here today and see real regeneration happening onsite – you can see the old east end style street taking shape and sense the community feeling already.”

The development is based on a mews design featuring 56 new homes include 32 one-bedroom, 10 two-bedroom and 1 three-bedroom flat plus 13 three-bedroom houses.

It also includes retaining a locally listed former library which will be put to future community use including a digital and arts hub.

John Moore, Mulalley New Build Managing Director said: “Mulalley is proud to have worked in partnership with Be First on this exciting project to help them deliver the Woodward Road scheme.

“We have said it before, but Barking and Dagenham has always been a special place and this scheme will greatly benefit the Borough by providing high-quality affordable new homes to support the local community.”

Jared Birch, deputy construction director at Be First, said: “At Be First we’re not just building great new affordable home but also communities – the new Woodward Road epitomised this approach.”

Building work is set to be completed by June 2023

The struggle continues in Barking

A mosaic co-designed by local school children commemorating the history of protest movements has been unveiled in Barking.

The ceramic celebration of the fight for social justice has been installed at a site known as the Three Lamps – which was a meeting place for early trade unionists and suffragettes by Abbey Green.

The mosaic – which features artwork commemorating the fight for women’s rights, sexual, and racial equality – was created by artist Tamara Froud and pupils from St Margaret’s school and is part of a heritage project delivered by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “Barking and Dagenham has led the way on the fight for equality and social justice from the suffragettes to the famous women strikers at Ford’s.

“The struggle for a fairer society continues and judging by this magnificent mosaic it’s clear our young people will continue Barking and Dagenham’s proud tradition of leading the way in the fight for a fairer society.”

Tamara Froud said: “I am delighted to help create the Barking Heritage Trail. It was especially brilliant to work with the children of St Margaret’s school to realise their ideas old and new, about protest. My thanks to Simone Panayi for bringing the history alive so brilliantly in the design sessions.”

Simone Panayi, Be First’s heritage officer, said: “We’re really proud of the borough’s protest heritage. And thanks to the support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Tamara’s wonderful mosaics we can shine a light on the borough’s role in the fight for social justice and importance of the Three Lamps.”

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.