Harold Hill and Rainham communities celebrate as council axes proposals to build on Gooshays Gardens and New Zealand Way
PUBLISHED: 11:30 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:53 26 September 2019
Communities are overjoyed as Havering Council has made a U-turn and withdrawn two applications to build houses on two beloved open spaces.
Residents in Harold Hill and Rainham have been fighting an ongoing battle with the council in a bid to protect the green in Gooshays Gardens and the land bounded by New Zealand Way on the Dovers Farm Estate.
The local authority proposed building 64 houses and car parking on the Harold Hill site earlier this year and was given the green light to build 30 homes on the open space in Rainham in February.
But at the council meeting on Wednesday, October 25, it was announced that both applications were to be withdrawn.
Harold Hill councillor Jan Sargent said: "To say that I am relieved to hear that the ludicrous proposal to build on the green has been retracted is an understatement.
"I am so pleased that the administration has realised the importance of retaining a public open space which is not only a child's play area but also a vital resource for the residents' health and wellbeing.
"We can now start making plans for improving and enhancing the area.
"I'm also going to personally hug all the trees and let them know the good news!"
Harold Hill resident Jennifer Blatchford said: "I would just like to say that we, the Friends of Gooshays Village Green, are elated at the news that the green will be saved.
"Havering Council prides itself on the fact we have a green borough and I am glad to say we have saved one of these green spaces."
South Hornchurch councillor Michael Deon Burton said: "After year upon year of fighting side by side with the local residents who, with their children, have enjoyed this irreplaceable green oasis, I cannot thank the council enough for finally putting an end to the uncertainty."
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During the meeting, council leader Councillor Damian White addressed the applications stating that the decision regarding New Zealand Way was overturned due to the Mayor of London approving an "intensification" of the Beam Park site development in Rainham.
An extra 300 homes will be provided on the site so there is less of a need to build homes on the open space.
Cllr White also spoke of a more "holistic regeneration" of the shopping district in Harold Hill to be able to provide affordable housing.
Changes will now need to be made to the Local Plan in order to make these withdrawals official.
Matt Stanton, secretary of the Dovers Farm Estate committee, told the Recorder that while Havering Council's decision was welcome, campaigners would not rest until the space was officially declared a village green and legally protected from any further attempts at development.
He said: "As a community we are obviously delighted that the council has finally seen sense, but it is a shame it has taken them so long, and so much public money, for them to bow to people power.
"It has been four years and we have had brilliant support from all over the borough - everyone could see that it made no sense to build homes on the green and at times the behaviour of Havering Council has been shocking."
Cllr Damian White said: "The proposals for New Zealand Way and the Gooshays Green are to deliver affordable accommodation that will support those residents.
"But this administration must consider the human cost of providing these additional units.
"This is a difficult decision.
"We still need to meet those housing targets, we have stretched targets proposed by the London mayor but it is important that we take the community with us and that we do everything possible to provide the right type of housing."
Harold Hill residents will be holding a picnic on the green to celebrate the news on Saturday, September 28, from 11am-2pm.