A public consultation is being launched on Havering Council's plans to replace some of its “underused” town centre car parks with hundreds of homes.

The proposals, at the pre-application stage, seek to redevelop four car parks in Romford and Hornchurch to deliver almost 300 homes.

The council says these will include 'affordable' housing and commercial space for businesses.

The sites earmarked are the car parks at Dorrington Gardens and Keswick Gardens in Hornchurch, and Como Street and Angel Way in Romford.

Romford Recorder: Como street car park in RomfordComo street car park in Romford (Image: Google Street)The authority is asking for residents' views in a consultation which launches on Friday (November 17).

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A council spokesperson said the intention is to submit planning applications for the car parks in spring 2024 with decisions expected around the autumn.

The council will sell the sites subject to planning approvals, they added.

The plans come amidst a challenging financial picture for the authority, which faces a forecasted £31m deficit.

It has announced other savings measures to reduce this, including the closure of Romford's Sunday market.

Romford Recorder: The multi-storey car park in Angel Way, RomfordThe multi-storey car park in Angel Way, Romford (Image: Google Street)Council leader Ray Morgon said the car park proposals represent “an exciting opportunity” and “an important step” in unlocking the potential for these “underused” car parks.

He added: “Less Government funding year on year means a budget gap of £31.2million and £77million over four years that we have to try and close.

“I encourage residents to share their thoughts (on the car park redevelopment plans) with us.”

Mercury Land Holdings, the council-owned housing company, was granted approval in August that exempts it from needing an environment impact assessment for a plan to build 170 homes at the Como Street site.

Romford Recorder: Keswick Avenue car park in HornchurchKeswick Avenue car park in Hornchurch (Image: Google Street)The Recorder previously reported that plans to dispose of Slaney Way car park have been put on hold, after the council considered objections on removing the car parks from public use in August.

Jai Sepple, manager at Brookside Theatre in Romford, had told this paper that the sale of the car park would have a “devastating” impact on their business.

A council spokesperson has now said that the decision on using the Slaney Way car park for housing would be made after further discussions with the theatre on retaining part of the site.

Romford Recorder: Jai Sepple of Brookside TheatreJai Sepple of Brookside Theatre (Image: Jai Sepple)

A previous consultation was conducted by the council on the proposal to dispose of the five sites, potentially removing 800 parking spaces.

A petition was launched by Conservative councillor David Taylor, of St Edwards ward, in July urging the council to re-run a consultation as he claimed it went “below the radar” of the public.

But the council said it had published the proposal under the legal notices section of our paper on March 10 and that copies of the notice were displayed in each of the earmarked car parks throughout the consultation period.

Read More: Calls for more consultation on Havering car park sale plan

The latest consultation closes on December 4.

Residents can fill the online survey on this link: Underused Car Park Redevelopment - Appropriation - London Borough of Havering Council - Citizen Space   .

Comments can also be emailed to propertyservices@havering.gov.uk or sent via post addressing the assistant director of housing to Havering Town Hall.