Last week School children from Marsh Green Primary School, unveiled their self-portraits which will adorn the hoardings around a building site in the borough. Be First, the regeneration arm of Barking and Dagenham Council, are working with contractor Hollybrook Homes to bring 149 new homes to the site on New Road, Dagenham.

On site to help unveil the hoardings were Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, along with Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment & School Improvement. Also in attendance were Geoff Raw, Managing Director at Be First and Kevin Parsons, Development Director at Hollybrook Homes.

The artwork is the product of 42 pupils from years four to six of the school, which is located opposite the site and pupils have painted their portraits on about 16 boards. The idea was suggested by the school as a lot of the children walk past the site on their way to school so they thought it would be great for them to see themselves on the hoardings. At the event there was also a ‘Lego Challenge’ for the school children where they had to build something related to the construction theme, with the local Councillors judging the winning entry: a team effort of a building with six cranes around it.

Geoff Raw, Managing Director of Be First said: “These 149 new homes aren’t just providing affordable rental options and home ownership options for residents. Be First also wants to create a place which everyone can be proud of, and where we’re creating healthy and thriving communities. We work with our contractors to ensure that they bring social value to the communities they work in. It’s all part of us making Barking and Dagenham a great place to live, work, study and raise a family.”

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “We’re not just investing in the homes of the future but also the people of the future and wonderful events like this which bring together young people and our partners are so vital.

“It was an absolute privilege judging the Lego contest and I can’t thank Hollybrook enough for working with and inspiring our young people with events like this.”

Natalie Sanchez, Headteacher, Marsh Green Primary School, said: “We are excited that our pupils will have the opportunity to be a part of the new housing development by showcasing their self-portraits. By incorporating these artworks into the heart of our local community, the children will have a meaningful and lasting impact on their surroundings.

“We are immensely proud to have Hollybrook Homes as our partners, as their support continues to enrich the educational experience we provide to our children. Their commitment to our school and the wider community is highly valued, and we look forward to further collaborative ventures in the future.”

Kevin Parsons, Development Director at Hollybrook Homes, said: “The work with local Marsh Green Primary School, is part of Hollybrook Homes Social Values and Community Engagement Strategy, which they carry out on each of their sites.  We will continue to work with the school for the duration of the project at Transport House.  We have arranged to carry out repairs of the climbing frame in the playground and the two shelters during the February half term and are also installing planters six benches.  We recently attended the schools Aspiration Day where we spoke to approximately 300 pupils about construction, our roles within the company and what we are doing at Transport House. We look forward to completing this project early next year. “

The site, which used to be an office block called Transport House, is being regenerated into 149 homes. Of these 78 are affordable rent and 71 will be for private sale. Work on site started back in March last year and the project is due to complete in February 2025. For details on the news homes see Reside website.