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MP and councillor to form group campaigning against overdevelopment in Havering

PUBLISHED: 17:09 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 08 October 2020

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture: Andrew Achilleos

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. Picture: Andrew Achilleos

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MP Jon Cruddas has warned south Havering will become a “developers’ playground” if reforms to the planning system go ahead.

Cllr Graham Williamson. Picture: Paul BennettCllr Graham Williamson. Picture: Paul Bennett

The Labour politician spoke out at a press conference on Friday as he and Graham Williamson, ward councillor for South Hornchurch, announced their intentions to form a steering group opposing overdevelopment.

The government has announced proposals to reform the country’s planning system, featuring binding housing targets that councils would have to deliver through their local plan.

It also set out the introduction of growth areas suitable for substantial development where outline planning permission would be automatically granted for specified types of development.

Mr Cruddas, Dagenham and Rainham MP, said the proposals would take councils such as Havering and communities almost entirely out of the planning process, adding that residents will not be able to intervene in the development stages of proposals.

He said: “The whole of south Havering will become a developers’ playground. I think once residents realise what is going on, they will be appalled.”

Cllr Williamson felt that it is “inevitable” that Havering will change from a suburban to an urban borough to meet housing targets.

He said new residents to the borough would have to use existing services, adding: “I fear we are heading for social conflict as people compete for ever dwindling services.”

Cllr Williamson revealed they will be inviting figures from across the political spectrum to join their group, called Preserve, while Mr Cruddas was keen to emphasise that their campaign is not about party politics.

Rainham Steel's site lies next to a planned 240 home development in New Road. Picture: Richard CarrRainham Steel's site lies next to a planned 240 home development in New Road. Picture: Richard Carr

He said: “We have already had local Conservatives rally to the cause.

“We want Havering Council to register their concerns about the national plans, we want to change the national plans and at the same time, we want to democratise the local process and use this to call Havering Council to account as well.

“This is not a party political thing in any way. This is not tribal, this is not about points scoring.

“I just think the stakes are so high in terms of the calamitous effects of what’s on the runway in terms of changes to the planning environment.”

Other speakers who have been battling planned developments included Richard Carr, managing director of Rainham Steel, and Julia Herold, from Romford heating and air-conditioning firm AC Preou.

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The former explained how Rainham Steel has been fighting a proposed 240-home development in New Road, next to its site, on the grounds of the noise and disturbance it would cause the development’s residents.

The application was submitted by Rainham and Beam Park Regeneration LLP, a joint venture made up of the council and housing association Notting Hill Genesis.

Outline planning permission was approved by the council’s strategic planning committee in July, but the proposals will go to the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Housing for approval.

Mr Carr said the firm’s site had not been subject of a compulsory purchase order and accused the council of hoping that residents would complain about Rainham Steel and it would be “forced out”.

He added: “People like us employing 90 people in this location are just considered to be collateral damage. This cannot be in the best interest of local residents, certainly not our employees and certainly not the future of Havering.”

Ms Herold formed the Bridge Close Business Alliance, opposed to the redevelopment of Bridge Close in Romford for more than 1,000 homes.

The council had entered into joint venture with First Base Ltd and Savills Investment Management Ltd to deliver the project, but it announced last month that it has agreed in principle to buy out their interest in the joint venture.

Ms Herold said: “We have been fighting this since 2015. It has put many of the businesses under tremendous strain. We see this development as nothing more than a tower block sprawl.”

Council leader Damian White told the Recorder he has “long campaigned for the right type of development” for Havering.

But he said the council could be penalised if it doesn’t meet housing targets. He added: “We do need housing but we need the right type of housing in the right places across our country.

“I firmly believe that a new generation of new towns is needed to help solve the housing supply issue facing our country.

“By creating new settlements, the required infrastructure can be built as part of the development and not having to be squeezed in afterwards.

“Everyone should have a right to a quality place to call home. This should not come at the expense of the characteristics of communities.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “What we are proposing are not targets, they would provide a guide for councils on how many homes may be needed in their area.

“This would be the first stage in the process and, as before, environmental considerations like the green belt and land availability will be taken into account.

“We have consulted on the proposals and will reflect on the feedback received so we can deliver the homes we need, where we need them.”


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