The ground was officially broken last week by Cllr Phil Waker, Cabinet Member for Housing, and Cllr Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration. The new homes will be available at a mixture of sub-market rents, including 50 per cent of market rate, 65 per cent and 80 per cent. The homes will be made up of a mixture of 3 to 4 bedroom houses and 1 to 2 bedroom flats. The homes are being built by Jerram Falkus.
The allocation of homes will be handled differently from that currently used for council housing in the borough. Full details of this will be announced later this year.
Along with the 201 home William Street Quarter development in Barking Town Centre, the development of these two sites has been possible thanks to an innovative partnership between Barking and Dagenham Council and a private funder. Under the deal, the money to build the homes comes from the partner. After 60 years the ownership of the homes reverts to the council. In the meantime local people, many of them on the council’s waiting list, get new homes to live in - relieving the pressure on the council's own housing stock.
The private partner is Explore Investment, the investment arm of Laing O’Rourke, and institutional asset developer Long Harbour.
Cllr Phil Waker said: “We are in the midst of an economic slump but we somehow need to build new housing in Barking and Dagenham. We have built 146 council houses ourselves in the last couple of years, with more on the way, but as a local council we unfortunately don’t have the resources to do all the building ourselves. That’s why we’re working with the private sector to deliver these valuable extra homes.
“Later in the year we will be making an announcement on exactly how these homes will be allocated. It will be a slightly different approach, which we hope will help some of the people who have been worst affected by the housing shortage.”
Cllr Cameron Geddes added: “We are delighted to be able to officially start the building work on this site. As a council we’re determined to defy the recession and keep the regeneration of Barking and Dagenham on track. There is a serious housing shortage in Britain, and in this region in particular. Local councils have a key role to play in tackling that, and that’s something that we won’t shy away from.”
Darren Henaghan, Corporate Director of Housing and Environment, Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “These new homes will not only benefit the families who move in. There will also be a positive knock-on effect because it will reduce the demand on our council housing and the private rental sector. All the homes will be available to rent at much less than the market rate, making them much more affordable for local people.”