Real regeneration is not about bricks and mortar, but hearts and minds, said east London council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell this week.

Barking and Dagenham council’s leader was speaking at a topping out ceremony to mark a major milestone in the redevelopment of the Gascoigne Estate and the launch of Be First’s Social Value report, Reasons to be cheerful.

The report highlights how the organisation’s building programme has been designed to stimulate wider regeneration in the borough, including providing more jobs and educational opportunities for local people, boosting local supply chains and creating a more sustainable model of development.

Cllr Rodwell said: “Real regeneration is about using our investment to power the local economy in a way that gives local people better opportunities. It’s much more than bricks and mortar, it’s about winning hearts and minds.”

Cllr Rodwell was at the ceremony hosted by Wates Residential to top out the first of 201 homes in its part of the development along Abbey Road in Barking.

The redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood will eventually deliver over 2,200 new affordable homes, tree-lined streets and new parks.  The new Gascoigne will be among the greenest and sustainable neighbourhoods in London with new ‘green’ roofs, including solar panels over 1,800 cycle spaces, and will be powered by a local District Heat Network.

Since Be First was established in late 2017, it has pumped £39m into the local economy, boosting local businesses and supply chains, while delivering quality modern homes for the people of the borough.

And around one in five of Be First contractors’ employees are local people.

Jared Birch, Deputy Construction Director, at Be First, said: “Wates Residential has been superb in helping us redevelop the Gascoigne area into what will be one of London’s most affordable and liveable neighbourhoods. They share our ethos of making sure our regeneration benefits the borough, environmentally, socially and economically.”

Adrian Fennessy, Operations Director at Wates Residential said: “Working with Be First, Wates Residential has put people from Barking and Dagenham front and centre of this project to provide over 200 new homes. As an example, 487 local residents have worked on the site, and 37 of these have been new opportunities. We will also be providing over 20 work experience placements.

“This will go a long way to leaving a lasting legacy that will benefit the borough. And as we near completion, people and families, who all deserve a great place to live, will be moving into these apartments next year and calling them home.”