120-home development on Harold Hill college site approved

Harold Hill Havering College development approved

An artist's impression of the finished development in Harold Hill - Credit: DHA Architecture

A planning application to build 120 new homes on a college campus in Harold Hill has been approved. 

The proposed development will replace council-owned land currently occupied by Havering College's former Tring Gardens campus. 

The college said the Quarles Campus was “surplus to need”, and will instead provide services within the borough from its remaining Ardleigh Green Campus and Rainham Campus Construction Centre. 

During last Thursday’s (July 15) strategic planning committee, councillors voted almost unanimously for the project, with seven votes for and one abstention. 

The properties will be made up of 78 houses and 42 flats, with associated parking, landscaping and play space over approximately 3.8 hectares. 

Around a third of the new homes, built by developer Bellway, will be affordable housing - 37.3 per cent by habitable rooms and 39.2pc of the units. 

Havering’s housing department noted that the proposal has not achieved the 50pc affordable allocation quota on public land. 

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It said: "There is a risk of setting a precedent for public land where in the climate we are in and the increasing demand for genuinely affordable homes could be undermined.” 

During the meeting, a number of councillors raised concerns about further developing the Green Belt. 

Cllr Reg Whitney spoke about the adverse impact on green areas and the existing playing fields, which would be demolished.

Sport England has also objected to this loss, and in return the developer has promised to spend £150,000 on a "new and improved" artificial grass pitch at Brittons Academy in Hornchurch. 

Cllr Whitney said: “Although we need houses, and we all understand that, we’re not fools... I’m very concerned about building on the Green Belt. 

“We were all elected here as councillors, but it seems to me that perhaps we should change our names to Green Belt Havering builders, because [that’s] what seems to be going on.” 

He added: “We can’t blame the mayor of London this time, we can blame ourselves.” 

Discussing the upkeep of the development’s green spaces, leader of the Labour group, Cllr Keith Darvill, queried whether this would be managed by the council or be an additional cost for residents to pay to a managing company. 

Cllr Best added: “What I feel we don’t want to do is go down the lease-hold scenario, where people buy a lease-hold property then they have ever-increasing annual payments thrust upon them, and then in the end no-one wants to buy them because it’s a cash cow.” 

The costs of maintaining the green space, he said, should be spread across all residents in the borough, rather than just those living on the estate. 

Cllr Whitney added: “I don’t have [the] public running on my garden, it’s mine.” 

However, Cllr Darvill applauded the social housing allocation of the development. 

He said: “There is a lot of support for this application locally because people do want those houses for local people. 

“Ideally, our public want social housing so people on the housing list will get them, and that’s what we need to do.” 

He added: “We as councillors should have more influence over this type of development, rather than just nod it through on the basis that overall it’s good. 

“We surely want to go for the best on these things, when we’ve got so much control on it.” 

During the developer’s consultation stage, a total of 251 letters were sent to neighbouring properties, with 79 responses including concerns about "excessive" development putting further strain on the area’s doctor’s surgeries, schools and police officers. 

Another response said: “The entrance site at Tring Gardens will be a living nightmare for all the residents during construction and everyday volume of traffic.” 

Another read: “There will be impact on local wildlife and The Manor nature reserve.” 

Cllr Tim Ryan echoed these concerns in the meeting, but was assured by Havering planning officer Raphael Adenegan that the development would not encroach on the nearby woodlands or have an adverse effect on wildlife.