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Council approves two new tower blocks in Barking with ZERO social housing

PUBLISHED: 11:02 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 20 March 2019

Crown House in Barking. Picture: JON KING

Crown House in Barking. Picture: JON KING

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The council's planning chiefs have given the thumbs up to two new tower blocks neither of which include social housing.

Crown House is up for demolition now that plans for 396 homes have been approved by Barking and Dagenham Council planning chiefs. Picture: JON KINGCrown House is up for demolition now that plans for 396 homes have been approved by Barking and Dagenham Council planning chiefs. Picture: JON KING

Developers want to demolish Crown House in Linton Road, Barking, and build 396 homes in high rises of nine to 29 storeys. The plans were approved at Barking Town Hall on Monday.

During the planning committee meeting, Cllr Andrew Achilleos asked whether a viability study was carried out to see if dwellings for the homeless and people in temporary accommodation could be included.

However, a council officer said the scheme did not require such an assessment.

The car free development sees one building of 169 below-market rate homes. Of these 30pc are low cost rents, 35pc affordable rents and 35pc shared ownership.

An artist's impression of the planned development. Picture: BE FIRST/CAREY JONES CHAPMAN TOLCHERAn artist's impression of the planned development. Picture: BE FIRST/CAREY JONES CHAPMAN TOLCHER

A typical two-bedroom flat will be offered at the London living rent of about 56 per cent of market rent or at the London affordable rent of 45pc of market rent, according to Be First.

The remaining 227 homes would be private and in the second block.

According to the council there are more than 7,000 households on its housing waiting list.

The development also includes 430 square metres of commercial floorspace.

Crown House in Barking. Picture: JON KINGCrown House in Barking. Picture: JON KING

Objector, Paul Scott, of the Barking and Dagenham Heritage Conservation Group told the committee: “[The scheme] will overshadow the heritage area, Barking Baptist Church and Kings Lounge.

“The amount of people living there will put a great strain on local services.”

Out of 562 neighbours consulted over the project, 21 objections were received including from the nearby Barking Enterprise Centre and Cambridge House.

John Cutler – from estate agents Strutt and Parker acting for Cambridge House’s owner – warned that at three metres the planned development was too close to the existing block of flats.

But the council’s regeneration firm, Be First, and developer Lightquote Limited argued the Crown House site provided a key opportunity to redevelop Barking town centre.

Darkened glass on the lowers floors of the new build next to Cambridge House would address privacy concerns, they argued.

The exisiting Crown House building is of little architectural merit and can’t be redeveloped because it contains asbestos, the applicants also said.

And the loss of Linton Road car park wouldn’t affect Barking market traders who left their vehicles there during the day because they could now park at Vicarage Field shopping centre.

Before the vote, the council’s officer dismissed concerns about the design’s impact on sunlight, privacy, height, and the loss of the existing building and car park in Linton Road.

Seven councillors voted to approve the plans while Cllr Achilleos abstained.

Following the meeting, Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “The proposals to demolish Crown House are a vital part of our plans to boost the provision of affordable homes and rejuvenate a neglected part of Barking town centre.

“The new development will create 396 top quality homes with 169 affordable and council owned apartments for local people. We are putting our money where our mouth is by building for the many and not the few.”

“In the town centre we need a genuine mix of housing which will provide a more vibrant, buzzing town centre. And, by offering a wide range of housing options, we are providing more opportunities for local families to put down their roots and call Barking and Dagenham home.”

Pat Hayes, managing director of Be First, said: “Crown House is one of many developments happening in the heart of Barking.

“With artists’ housing, new cinemas and genuinely affordable homes coming soon, we are building a better Barking for all.”

A spokesman for Lightquote said: ““We’re delighted that this project has now been approved and we look forward to delivering a range of top-quality homes just yards from Barking station.

“Together with the improved public realm and commercial premises, it will give a real boost to the development of the town centre.”

Be First and Lightquote expect to appoint contractors in April.

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