Farnham and Hilldene Estate regeneration plans gather pace
- Credit: Cash Boyle
Plans to revamp Harold Hill continue to move forward following a number of recent public consultations on the area's regeneration.
Residents and businesses have been invited to a series of consultation events to help shape the estate's future.
The Recorder went along to yesterday's resident session with the aim of developing a better understanding of this regeneration project.
The Farnham and Hilldene Estate has been earmarked for regeneration since 2016, though the original proposal was to build accommodation above the current buildings.
In March 2019 council leader Damian White confirmed these extension plans had morphed into a regeneration project following criticisms of the current accommodation.
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This project was to be delivered together with Wates Residential, before its removal from the 12 Estates programme was decided earlier this year.
On March 17, it was confirmed that the regeneration of Farnham and Hilldene would be council-led, while Chippenham Road would remain a joint delivery.
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Though the recent consultations centred around the Farnham and Hilldene Estate, information was available on the entire regeneration project.
It has been split into three sections: Family Welcome Centre and Medical Centre, Farnham and Hilldene and Chippenham Road.
Family Welcome Centre and Medical Centre
This is currently the Abercrombie House hostel which sits just off Hilldene Avenue.
Cllr White confirmed that the intention is to redevelop this hostel into "modern, state of the art, emergency family accommodation".
It is hoped that an application for this aspect of the regeneration will be submitted by the end of this year, with the second quarter of 2022 given as an indicative start date.
Farnham and Hilldene Estate
This encompasses the entire area surrounding Farnham Road, flanked by West Dene Drive, East Dene Drive, Chippenham Road and Hilldene Avenue.
Hawkins\Brown are the proposed architect for this element of the regeneration.
The outline plans promise new homes, new shops and businesses, better streets and public space and a strong community.
In terms of shops and businesses, the proposal pledges to create "an active high street" which offers "a better pedestrian environment".
Specific provision is made for already-existing community assets, with the plans vowing to keep both the library and St George's Church in their current locations.
Other amenities - such as the post office and Harold Hill Community Hub - would move to new locations in the area.
The relevant planning application is expected in spring/summer 2022, with the beginning of 2025 slated as a start date for phase one of the six-stage project.
Overall development is expected to take until 2035.
Cllr White stated that the proposed regeneration of the former housing office site will "create around 200 high quality homes fit for the future".
The fourth quarter of 2023 has been mooted as a proposed start date for this aspect of the project.
It was stressed throughout that all dates are subject to change.
The next step is to fully develop the proposals before submitting planning applications for each stage at the indicative dates outlined above.
It is promised that sanctioned redevelopment will be done in a phased manner to "keep disruption to residents and business to a minimum".
According to the consultation information, this means "only emptying one section of the estate at a time, demolishing it and building new homes and business units".
Of the 12 Estates programme, Cllr Damian White said: "This £1.2 billion project will see 12 council estates regenerated to provide approximately 3,500 new homes in the borough over the next 12 years."
“This will result in the number of council rented homes on those sites doubling."
The leader also offered an update on the project currently facing public consultation: "Our investment into the regeneration of the district shopping centre will bring forward around 540 new modern homes, update the shopping facilities as well as improve landscaping and a new medical centre."
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