Havering’s Wellgate Farm may be saved by housing development

The future of a popular Havering city farm could be safeguarded after a council threw its weight behind a major development.

Plans to build five-bedroom detached homes, which will be eco-friendly, on Green Belt land in Collier Row Road, were given the green light by Barking and Dagenham councillors at a development control meeting on Monday night.

The proposals will now go to the Greater London Authority and the government.

As part of the plans, put forward by Ecogrove Homes Limited, struggling Wellgate City Farm - which sits beside the site - would receive a new building with a classroom, cafe, farm shop and farm offices.

The farm straddles Havering and Barking and Dagenham.

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The centre, which runs a number of educational programmes, would also benefit from a farm manager’s house, a new recycling shed and 85 per cent more land.

Building on Green Belt land is generally not allowed, however the council said this case was an exception because the homes are carbon neutral and because of the vast improvements to the farm.

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According to the council plans, the site where the homes would be built is currently occupied by a cattery, dog kennels, a garden centre and a number of other buildings, some empty, which may not have planning permission.

Chadwell Heath councillor Jeff Wade, who made a speech in support of the application, said the site was essentially “brown field”.

He added: “This development will actually bring back the green nature of that area, not take it away.”

Fellow ward councillor Sam Tarry also backed the move.

He said: “This development will be transformative. This could attract professionals to the area, which we desperately need.”

He praised Wellgate Farm for helping to turn young people’s lives around and said the money would safeguard its future.

Farm manager Elizabeth Webb, who together with her team has been running a Keep Us Going Campaign since the 30-year-old farm hit financial troubles, said she was delighted with the decision: “We’ve still got two stages to go, but it’s fantastic news.

“Hopefully this will save our farm.”

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