Feature: Plans to regenerate the Briar Road Estate moves forward

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco - Credit: Archant

Plans for the regeneration of Harold Hill’s Briar Road Estate took a step forward last week as proposals to demolish 15 garage sites and replace them with 36 affordable homes were approved last Tuesday.

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco - Credit: Archant

The plans are phase one of the project to transform the estate, which is part of Havering Council’s Harold Hill Ambitions programme, launched in 2008 to improve quality of life for residents.

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco - Credit: Archant

The first phase will include the development of 102 affordable new homes around the estate and £2million environmental improvements. Work is expected to start on site in the autumn and to be completed in 18 months.

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco

Residents Anita Lacey and Eddie DeMarco - Credit: Archant

The second phase, still in the planning stages, will include a new shopping area and health facilities.

The project is the brainchild of Cllr Steven Kelly, who said: “We want to give people a reason to stay in the area. Before, when children got to the age of 12 the family would move out of the area so they could go to a better secondary school.

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“Now we have Drapers Academy and have seen vast improvements in the results, we are seeing more people tend to want to stay in the area.”

We walk to Cotsfoot Path (west) where Cllr Kelly points out an area to the rear of the grass which will be used for six bungalows. He said: “We have had requests from elderly residents who want to downsize.

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“But they want to stay in the locality near their friends and family. These bungalows seem like the perfect fit.”

He added that the attitude on the estate was also starting to change. “The pride is coming back with people parking their cars in front of the houses and when you walk around you can feel it is a different place.

“There is no graffiti and less anti-social behaviour. It’s much cleaner and people want to keep it that way.”

Mark Adams, stock options project manager, added: “A lot of people moved here from the east end of London in the 1950s. People want to stop here and not move.”

“We have consulted with a lot of people and have included their views. They wanted us to build the bungalows away from the flats and windows, to prevent overlooking, and that’s what we are doing.

One of the key changes will be to Lavender Close, which currently has a disused roundabout where people park.

The council plans to remove this and replace it with marked parking bays.

And after securing £300,000 in funding from Notting Hill Housing Trust, the council hopes to revamp Bosworth Field to make it more user-friendly.

Jonathan Geall, housing needs and strategy manager, said: “It will be refurbished to include swings and picnic areas as well as football fields. The estate has 1,100 homes and 4,000 residents; it needs a decent field and play area.

“We are creating a multi-use games area with an area for children, a playhouse and seating.”

Ron Squires, who lives on the estate, said: “I think the project is a good idea. The council has a big waiting list for housing, so there is a need for this to happen here.

“We want the housing as we want our children and grandchildren to grow up and have homes here. A lot of people moved here from the East End, and don’t want to move again – they want to keep their families together.

“You can see from the improvements the council has made already that people are proud of the Briar Road Estate. There is no dirt or filth here and people want to take care of where they live.”

Anita Lacey, 63, and her husband Edward DeMarco, 61, live next to 16 disused garages in Cedar View.

The garage next to their house will be retained, with the remaining 15 demolished to make way for two houses and parking spaces.

Anita said: “I’m very pleased with the plans. Anything they do will improve the area

“What chance have we got if the area is like this? We would never be able to sell our house if we wanted to as the area doesn’t look good.

“The garages are an eyesore. If work is done, it might be an inconvenience in the short term, but it will be worth it in the long run.”

She added: “We can already see people are taking more pride in the area after having new windows put in by the council and having small improvements. People are taking care of their gardens and feel proud of where they live.”

Edward said: “When you look at the garages that are boarded up they look like rubbish tips. There are mixed reactions from some residents about the disruption the building work will cause, but when it starts I think people will see the improvements will be good for the area. And I like the idea of trees and green rather than just bare brick walls and pavements.”

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