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Bid to build temporary accommodation in Upney gets thumbs up despite objections

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 September 2020

A total of 15 homes would be built at the site in Margaret Bondfield Avenue. Picture: Be First

A total of 15 homes would be built at the site in Margaret Bondfield Avenue. Picture: Be First

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A bid to build temporary accommodation for homeless families has been given the thumbs up despite neighbours’ objections.

Families are expected to stay at the site short term before permanent homes can be found. Picture: Be FirstFamilies are expected to stay at the site short term before permanent homes can be found. Picture: Be First

Members of the town hall’s planning committee voted to approve the plan to build 15 flats on land currently used for parking at Margaret Bondfield Avenue in Upney at a meeting on Monday, September 14.

The three-storey pre-fabs would provide short to medium term homes and reduce the cost to the council of housing families in the private sector. The development would not have a detrimental impact on neighbouring homes, the meeting heard.

However, the committee heard from five people objecting to the scheme over loss of parking, loss of privacy, the impact on density, anti-social behaviour, the difficulty in accessing the site down a “narrow” road and lack of consultation.

A petition against the bid was signed by 100 people.

The site is currently used as a car park. Picture: Be FirstThe site is currently used as a car park. Picture: Be First

Rahul Amin said: “We don’t feel like we have been listened to. It’s an unfair process that has been run here.”

Committee chair, Cllr Muhammad Saleem, said the members kept an open mind and would base their decision on the evidence before them.

Anthony Whiteman urged members to pay attention to Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge’s objection the site was inappropriate.

Mr Whiteman said the redesigned scheme lacked imagination. He claimed there was no proper or thorough consultation.

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He added that notices about the development were only printed in English, meaning some people from ethnic minority communities didn’t know what was going on until told by neighbours.

And he claimed the local authority would struggle to manage the site.

Angelo Cimelli, who is in charge of managing temporary accommodation for Barking and Dagenham, said the scheme would help vulnerable families and he did not expect any management problems.

Emma Thorpe, acting for the applicant, Barking and Dagenham Council, said the scheme could see an improvement in anti-social behaviour with “more eyes” on the neighbourhood.

She added the proposal is in an area where there is already overlooking and concerns about privacy had been addressed with homes being several metres away from nearby properties.

Jennie Coombes from Be First said the council’s regeneration arm apologised for the shorter consultation period, but people were able to get their thoughts across.

Cllr Dominic Twomey said the decision to build the temporary accommodation could only be based on the facts.

“If the boot was on the other foot, people would be very pleased to have good quality housing to help them get by,” he said.

As of August 2020, the council is housing a total 1,564 households in emergency or temporary accommodation whilst they wait for a permanent home.

Of this number, about 1,200 households are in private sector accommodation.


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