Post letters: Housing, support borough and apprenticeships

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 March 2018

CGI of the Barking Riverside development. Picture: SHAMIR PATEL

CGI of the Barking Riverside development. Picture: SHAMIR PATEL

Shamir Patel

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Post readers this week.

Don’t scaremonger over housing

Colin Newman, full address supplied, writes:

Mr Justice’s letter (March 7 titled ‘Is housebuilding plan adequate?’) and others who speculate and imagine about planning in the borough might like to establish some facts by starting with the “Issues and Options Report” (IOR) which can easily be found on the council’s website. It is a little out of date (July 2015), but soon it will emerge revised and finalised as the borough plan – a document whose very existence refutes Terry’s claim that there is no long-term planning, but rather just “panic”.

I am not sure where Mr Justice gets 60,000 homes from; The IOR mentions 35,000 by 2030, but very few of these are to be “council houses”. I think he is confusing the council’s role as a planning authority with its role as a social housing provider.

I realise it’s a figure of speech when he refers to building homes on “every blade of grass”, but the IOR clarifies what sites are in fact intended for housing in the borough.

The largest – Barking Riverside (over 10,000 homes) is post industrial. The second largest, Castle Green (5,000) is land planned to be redeemed by tunnelling a stretch of the A13. Post industrial land figures heavily and the slightest research will show that a proportion of green space is required by the London Plan, from which borough plans inherit their targets.

As to where children from these new homes are to be educated, the Post frequently features items about entirely new schools or expansion of existing ones. It really is bizarre to suggest that the council has not planned for this and/or is not doing anything.

Regarding Mr Justice’s final dig – “Has anyone considered what the quality of life for those unfortunate residents will become?” – I would refer him specifically to section 5 of the IOR, which is headed “Ensuring growth improves quality of life”.

Even reading the contents page of the IOR gives lie to Terry’s speculative scaremongering. No-one is claiming that handling the planned growth is anything but a challenge, but the idea that town planning doesn’t exist or isn’t being applied in Barking and Dagenham is just nonsense.

Mr Justice ought to inform himself better.

Stop talking our borough down

Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader, Barking and Dagenham Council, writes:

I write in response to Mr Terry Justice (‘Is housebuilding plan adequate?’ March 7).

Mr Justice has either chosen to ignore or is not aware of the huge amount of work that the council has undertaken to plan for the years ahead. Both the independent Growth Commission report in 2016 and our resident-led Borough Manifesto in 2017 set out a clear, ambitious, and collective vision for the future of Barking and Dagenham.

The homes that we plan to build will be for residents and other ordinary Londoners. In fact, over the next five years we are committed to building 2,000 truly affordable homes to be let at rents that are the same as council housing, which will help existing residents and their children settle here.

Our tenure-blind approach will ensure that all the properties will be built to a high standard, not so called ‘match-boxes’, and many of them will be built on old industrial land – giving a new lease of life to large parts of our borough.

As for the infrastructure needed to support new residents, this is all being planned for. We would not be building these homes without also putting in the facilities that people need.

Perhaps Mr Justice missed the recent announcement that £500m will be invested in Barking Riverside to provide transport links, schools, health centres, as well as commercial, retail and leisure space?

The council already has an excellent record when it comes to managing the increase in our population. Just a few weeks ago, the latest figures for children receiving their first preference secondary school showed us to be well above the London average and we will continue to meet the challenge of population growth head on.

London is pulsing again and Barking and Dagenham is answering the call. I would urge Mr Justice to stop talking down the borough and get behind our plans to ensure that no-one is left behind as the capital moves

We should value apprenticeships

Dr Leonard, formerly from Barking, writes:

National Apprentice Week aims to increase the number of apprentices.

About 50 per cent of school leavers who go on to university, but the future results do not match the desired intention of many of them.

But apprentice schemes improve employability of the apprentice and leads to the means of getting a good job so we must end any stigma attached to them.

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