Barking and Dagenham Council gives green light to Be First business plan

Be First's business plan has been approved by cabinet chiefs. Picture: LBBD

Be First's business plan has been approved by cabinet chiefs. Picture: LBBD - Credit: Archant

The council’s regeneration arm has had its vision for the next five years approved by town hall chiefs.

Cabinet members gave Be First the green light on plans including coming up with ideas for Dagenham Dock, which is due to become the new home of the City of London’s wholesale markets.

The plan, drawn up before the coronavirus pandemic, also includes plans to press rail operator C2C to improve the look and feel of Barking station.

Be First has “delivered” 427 new homes since 2017 and taken the lead in moving along plans for Dagenham Film Studios, with a planning application to be decided in July.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “Be First is delivering hundreds of new affordable homes for local people and making a financial surplus which can be used to fund frontline services for our most vulnerable residents.

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“Barking and Dagenham is a benchmark for socially responsible regeneration, and with the Covid-19 crisis causing untold damage to the economy, we need to invest in regeneration now more than ever.”

Further areas Be First is due to focus on are getting 3,000 new council-owned homes built by 2025 and managing a revamp of Barking town centre to include homes as well as a range of shops and leisure facilities.

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The organisation reports that it is also on track to generate a £15million surplus to the council by March, 31, 2021, having generated around £6m from its activities in 2019/20 to help towards paying for services in the borough.

Cllr Dominic Twomey said at an online cabinet meeting on Tuesday, April 21 that it was important to agree the plan as a benchmark, but that he had never downplayed the financial risks Be First entails.

The risks identified include the potential impact on the economy of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Pat Hayes, managing director of Be First, said: “Over the next five years we will deliver thousands of new affordable homes on the council’s behalf as well as projects like the Dagenham Film Studios and make a financial surplus of around £15m for the council to invest in key services.”

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