Beam Park: Construction work begins on 3,000-home Rainham and Dagenham estate at special groundbreaking ceremony
PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 May 2019
© S Saunders/ Digital Nation Photography
The start of construction work on the controversial Beam Park estate in Rainham and Dagenham was marked at a special groundbreaking ceremony this week.
On Wednesday, May 22, representatives from developers Countryside and housing association L&Q joined the dignitaries from City Hall to commemorate the official beginning of construction works at the site - which had been at the centre of a long-running planning battle until late last year.
Following the completion of the first phase of preparatory works, the regeneration scheme - which is expected to take 11 years to complete - has now begun in earnest.
The first wave of construction will focus on transforming the derelict site of a former Ford manufacturing plant into a new community spanning more than 70 acres (29 hectares).
Phase one is set to build 640 new homes, as well as extensive new community facilities, including the Beam Park railway station which will be run by C2C as part of its Dagenham Dock to London Fenchurch Street line.
The new station will sit at the heart of the development, and the station square will also contain a medical centre, serving not only new residents, but also up to 7,000 people in the surrounding area.
The work now under way will also see the creation of a three-form-entry primary school, as well as a new linear park to the north of the site, which will include play areas for children.
Sales of the new homes are due to launch in May this year, with the first homes ready in 2020.
The first phase of the development is due to be fully completed by 2022.
When the entire scheme is complete in 2030, developers maintain that Beam Park will also deliver an additional school, retail spaces, a gym, nursery, community facilities, a multi-faith space, and two energy centres.
Almost half (44pc) of the development has been allocated for publicly accessible green space, including a three-hectare central park in the heart of the development with the River Beam running through it.
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Speaking after the groundbreaking ceremony, James Murray, London's deputy mayor for housing, said that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was pleased that work on the development had begun.
He added: "With over 1,500 affordable homes for Londoners, as well as a new mainline train station, two schools, a park and a GP surgery, sites like this are crucial in tackling London's housing crisis."
At the same time, Robert Wilkinson, Countryside's managing director for partnerships in the south east, said the event was "an important step in our journey at Beam Park".
"We have the incredible opportunity to create a thriving new destination in East London, delivering one of London's largest housing developments," he added.
"Beam Park will undoubtedly have a truly transformative impact across the area with community and wellbeing at the heart of our plans."
The controversial Beam Park estate, which will run across Rainham in southern Havering and the old Ford site in Barking and Dagenham, had its planning consent officially granted with the signing of a Section 106 agreement in March.
In April last year, Havering's planning committee had thrown out plans for the estate, citing fears over looming tower blocks out of character with the surrounding area.
However, in May 2018 London's deputy mayor for housing, Jules Pipe CBE, called in the application - taking planning powers away from Havering and Barking and Dagenham councils - and granted planning permission at a public meeting at City Hall on September 28 last year.
It was the second largest housing scheme to gain planning permission across the entire country in 2018, and one of only three schemes in the capital to be offering 3,000 homes with 50pc affordable housing.
At Beam Park, these 1,513 affordable homes will be managed by L&Q.
Andy Rowland, L&Q's managing director for the east region, said: "Working with Countryside, we're proud to be involved in making such an important contribution to London's housing needs, meeting strong local demand by creating new homes in a wide range of tenures."
A marketing suite will open on the site this month, with two show apartments and a show home available to view.