The bulldozing of a former hostel for homeless people ahead of its redevelopment has begun.

The plans for Abercrombie House in Harold Hill were approved by Havering council in March 2021.

It proposed to replace the 36-bedroom property with a new family welcome centre and health centre.

Under the plans, the welcome centre will consist of 74 “self-contained” dwellings of different sizes.

The largest is said to have the capacity to accommodate up to eight family members. It will reportedly replace Havering’s existing hostels for the homeless.

Romford Recorder: Artist impression of the Family Welcome Centre Courtyard Artist impression of the Family Welcome Centre Courtyard (Image: Havering Council)

A spokesperson for the council said that the new building will be u-shaped.

It will have a “landscaped central courtyard” in the middle with a play area for kids.

Read More: Demolition begins at former Havering College campus, Harold Hill

Other facilities include shared and recreational spaces, and a health centre on the ground and first floors that will be located along Hilldene Avenue.

The centre is expected to deliver “accessible health services to the wider local community”, the spokesperson said.

Romford Recorder: The Abercrombie House was a former children's house that was reopened in 2013 The Abercrombie House was a former children's house that was reopened in 2013 (Image: Charles Thomson)

The residents of the old Abercrombie House were moved elsewhere by April this year, and work has now commenced to bulldoze the buildings on the site.

Councillors Paul McGeary, Graham Williamson and Patricia Brown visited the site with council officers on Thursday (June 22).

Cllr McGeary, cabinet lead for housing, said it was “great to mark this exciting milestone” for the family welcome centre.

He claimed that the council puts residents “at the heart of everything” they do and the new centre will help them look after families that find themselves homeless.

The centre, he said, will provide residents with a “safe, high quality and comfortable place to stay” while they find permanent homes.

Cllr Williamson, cabinet lead for development and regeneration, added that the centre is a testament to the council’s commitment to provide “affordable housing and supporting infrastructure across Havering”.

The development is a first phase of the Harold Hill town centre regeneration masterplan that also includes a revamp of the Farnham and Hilldene Estate and Chippenham Road.

The council spokesperson added that a public consultation is scheduled to take place later in July focusing on the next stage of the project, especially for Chippenham Road.

Abercrombie House was formerly a children’s home that was reopened after  after a £1 million refurbishment in 2013. It could house up to 160 people.