Hostel redevelopment plan to be discussed by councillors

Abercrombie House, near the Hilldene shops in Harold Hill, is run by Havering Council.

Abercrombie House hostel in Harold Hill could be redeveloped - Credit: Steve Poston

Plans to redevelop a hostel in Harold Hill and increase its capacity are to be discussed by councillors.

The Havering Council-led scheme would see the demolition of Abercrombie House, the 40-room hostel in Hilldene Avenue, as well as a former library and boxing club.

A new building of up to four storeys would be built in its place, according to the proposal, including a 74-unit hostel and a medical centre.

Council leader Damian White has previously said the intention is to redevelop the hostel into "modern, state of the art, emergency family accommodation".

The plan is due to be presented to the council's strategic planning committee on Thursday night (October 7) for councillors to comment before a planning application is submitted.

A report before the meeting said: "The applicant aims to replace the existing facility on-site, to increase capacity and improve the existing accommodation.

"This scheme forms the first phase of a wider masterplan within the area, with the council exploring the potential to redevelop the Farnham Road shopping centre and Chippenham Road sites to the south in the longer term.

"The principle of development is supported as it addresses the existing problems with Abercrombie House and the emergency family accommodation in the form of a family hostel."

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The 74 units would offer one, two and three-bedroom accommodation.

The plans have already been viewed by the Havering Quality Review Panel (QRP), made up of independent experts who assess the design of proposals.

The report said the panel viewed the plans as a "dramatic improvement" on the current hostel.

The QRP said plans for a central, communal courtyard would be a "significant asset".

But the panel "feels that there are potentially too many units on the site, without additional space being made available for retreat and respite", the report added.

Abercrombie House is now used as temporary accommodation for up to 160 homeless people at a time.

The Recorder revealed in August that police were called to the hostel 151 times between April 30, 2019 and the same date this year.

Havering Council said at the time the number of call-outs reflected its strong partnership with police and "shows how we always put the safety of our residents first".

The Met Police said it was working with the council to address concerns.