Residents lose ‘heart of the community’ as Havering Council approves application to build on Dovers Farm Estate
PUBLISHED: 11:48 17 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:11 22 August 2018
A community that has been left “disappointed” after the decision to build on a contentious open space by their homes was given the green light.
Councillors noted the “passionate” issue that building 30 new homes on an open space by Dovers Farm Estate in Rainham had become at the council meeting on Thursday, August 16.
Before the meeting took place residents gathered outside Havering’s Town Hall to protest the planning application with signs that read “Adopt our Green” and “The Green of Home”.
The meeting began with a speech by Sonia Roberts who lives in the area. She said: “An open space is the heart of this community which we do not want to lose.
“The council’s promise to keep Havering special should apply to the borough as a whole.
“By forcing through this third application in record time, you will be telling 400 households and the people in them, and the people in Havering that there’s only the tyranny of the majority and not a respectful community of accountable people across this borough.”
Speaking about reasons why they shouldn’t build on Dovers Farm Estate, she added: “The list is endless - health and wellbeing of residents, social interaction of children and adults in an area where they can be monitored by their parents, environmental and wildlife habitats.
“But the most important reason is our future, the future of the households that use this space, the future of the area once all of the redevelopment has taken place, and the future of Havering as a place to live where the council gives its residents the best possible environment to become a community, a council that values its residents and strives to provide the very best for its residents.”
In a bid to save the plot of land, residents submitted an application to give the open space Village Green status which would protect it from any future developments but was sadly refused in February
John McCart, who issued the application on behalf of the council explained that the London Plan has tasked London boroughs like Havering to provide a total of atleast 17,000 more affordable homes.
He also mentioned that there are four areas of open space within a 20min walk to the land bounded by New Zealand Way.
Councillor Damian White, leader of the council reiterated this point when he said that Hornchurch Country Park is a seven or eight minute walk away.
“Further still, additional play facilities will be added to Lessa Recreation Ground nearby. The much loved memorial to the ANZACs will be moved and put in a landscaped setting in the remaining communal space in the south of the plot,” he said.
Councillor Graham Williamson who sat on the committee suggested that the decision be deferred until plans for the nearby development of Napier House and New Plymouth House were completed, as this was one of the reasons for the previous rejection of a planning application to build on the land.
However, when it came to voting on this issue, a tie with four in favour and four against meant that the decision came down to the chairman of the meeting, Cllr Melvin Wallace.
He decided not to defer the decision.
The final vote went ahead, which resulted in another tie. Once again the final decision came down to the chairman and he decided to vote in favour, thereby allowing the planning application to go ahead.
Cllr Damian White added: “The latest application will deliver much-needed 100pc affordable homes for residents.
“With a £37m budget gap, we have a responsibility to ensure that council-owned brownfield land is used in a way that will provide the best return for the Council, which can then be put into protecting frontline services.
“Eight years of austerity means that there are no easy choices.
“We have families living in hostels because they can’t find an affordable place to live, so we have no option but to use a piece of land that we own, that is lying empty, for this purpose.”
Matt Stanton secretary of the Dovers Farm Estate Green committee said, “The fight goes on.
“Naturally as a community we are very disappointed in the decision arrived at by the Committee, not only with regards to the potential fate of our open space but also for the worrying precedent it is going to set for the residents of this borough.
“Our focus switches now to preparing to fight the ‘stopping-up order’ that Havering Council must pass in order to build.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank every member of our community as well as all the people from further afield, for their support over the last few years.”
Jon Cruddas MP for Rainham and Dagenham added: “This is a lamentable decision, flying in the face of reason and attacking the fabric of the local community.
“I am devastated for the community, but this is not the end of the story. The campaign to secure Village Green status goes on for Dovers Farm and I and my office will be offering all the legal support we can to residents to block this planning application.
“We cannot allow our vital, communal open spaces to be tossed away with such lack of consideration and reckless abandon by the Tories.”