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Old Abbey sports centre redevelopment gets the green light

PUBLISHED: 08:08 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:03 11 December 2018

How the new development will look. Pic: Be First

How the new development will look. Pic: Be First

Archant

The redevelopment of the old Abbey sports centre has been given the green light in spite of campaigners’ concerns.

The old Abbey Sports Centre will be demolished. Pic: Melissa PageThe old Abbey Sports Centre will be demolished. Pic: Melissa Page

Members of Barking and Dagenham Council’s planning committee on Monday voted unanimously in favour of demolishing the centre and replacing it with three tower blocks rising up to 13 storeys in Axe Street, Barking.

It includes a two screen cinema with 170 homes, 110 of which will be private and the rest offered at rates below the open market.

Keith Scotcher, chairman of the Barking and Dagenham Heritage Group, told councillors: “The only benefit will go to the building company and developer, not the public. These are private blocks of flats not council houses.

“The open character of the heritage area will be boxed in.”

How the development at the Sacred Heart site will look. Picture: Be First RegenerationHow the development at the Sacred Heart site will look. Picture: Be First Regeneration

He accused council officers of misrepresenting Historic England’s position on the scheme saying it wasn’t the rosy picture councillors had been told it was.

Committee members heard that there was no doubt the blocks would be seen from the Abbey ruins, but their position was in the least sensitive part of the area surrounding the monument.

Planning committee member, Cllr Dominic Twomey, replied: “This decision can’t be made with our hearts. It has to be made based on planning law.”

A CGI of the Mellish Close development. Picture: Be First RegenerationA CGI of the Mellish Close development. Picture: Be First Regeneration

Cllr Andrew Achilleos said he was disappointed there were no social rented homes when funding was available.

But he was told that 20 would be offered at the London living rent, with another 20 at 70pc and 20 more at 75pc of discount market rent in line with London mayor Sadiq Khan’s recommendations.

The redevelopment was passed within 45 minutes.

Pat Hayes – boss of Be First, the council backed regeneration firm – said afterwards: “We’re now stepping up the pace of our programme to build much-needed new homes for the borough.

A ground floor view of the Axe Street development. Picture: BE FIRST REGENERATIONA ground floor view of the Axe Street development. Picture: BE FIRST REGENERATION

“What they all have in common is high quality and low rents for local people. And, that’s a combination that we’re determined to deliver more of in the next few years.”

The council also voted in favour of six pre-fab council flats in Mellish Close, Barking, and nine flats and 20 houses at the Sacred Heart Convent in Goresbrook Road, Dagenham.

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