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Recorder letters: Housing developments impact; River Rom restoration; Romford walk of fame and Hornchurch Police Station.

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 September 2018

River Rom Project Restoration Launch, at Grenfell Park, Rush Green Road, Romford.

River Rom Project Restoration Launch, at Grenfell Park, Rush Green Road, Romford.

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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Natural green corridor on doorstep

Adam Grace, Romford, full address supplied, writes:

On Saturday, I had a lovely morning over at Grenfell Park at the launch of the Land Of The Fanns Project which aims to renaturalise and increase biodiversity along a stretch of our River Rom. It was very interesting to see the plans for the regeneration.

When all around us, we see more and more of our green spaces being built upon, it was a real breath of fresh air to see the great work being undertaken there.

I never realised what a lovely natural green corridor we have, right on our doorstep.

Wouldn’t it be a fantastic idea to extend this project and create a green pathway/cycle path along the River Rom from The Chase in Dagenham and also from Harrow Lodge, Elm Park, right the way through to Romford town centre.

With all the proposed development along Rom Valley Way, we have this one and only opportunity to include in the plans, a lovely riverside greenway for both residents, visitors and not forgetting, our local wildlife to enjoy. But for now, a big thank you to all involved last Saturday. A fabulous morning.

From small acorns grow mighty oaks.

Ways to ease the impact of housing developments

Lois Amos, Michael Armstrong, Andrew Curtin, Tim Howson, Amanda McKiernan, Caron Webb, executive committee, Romford Civic Society, write:

London Open House weekend is an excellent chance for us to think about the quality of building in our borough, and particularly the way that Romford Housing Zone and other developments in central Romford are being handled.

In total, it seems that some 5,000 or so new properties are planned for the middle of Romford, and it would seem reasonable to assume that this would bring some 15,000 new residents to the centre of the town.

Many issues arise from this, one of which is how all these developments will be integrated into the existing environment of the town.

At present, a piecemeal approach seems to be being taken, which we feel will inevitably lead to a fragmented and chaotic environment with all the negative impacts that this would bring for the community, economy and quality of life in the town, as well as for the environment itself.

There are, however, ways of overcoming this, but they would require a much greater level of intervention in the development by the local authority than is currently being pursued.

It seems clear, for example, that flats will be built on both sides of Rom Valley Way and Waterloo Road, culminating in a 20-storey block which Romford councillors are proposing on Waterloo Road Estate, where it is also proposed that there should be a huge increase in the number of dwellings on the estate from about 300 now to 1,500 in the future.

But it is still possible to rescue the situation.

If development were nudged back a little from the road along Rom Valley Way then trees could be planted along the road, helping to reduce pollution and give a sense of rhythm and order on this busy approach to Romford which would echo the attractive approach which trees help make to the town in Mawney Road and Main Road.

If the River Rom behind the sites proposed for new flats were re-naturalised and opened up as a pedestrian and cycle route into the town to complement the vehicular approach along Rom Valley Way, then this would also help to link and give coherence to these massive new developments as well as strengthening biodiversity and improving public health and well-being.

Developments in the area will be large enough, and the return in the form of improved property prices likely to be good enough, to justify requiring funding from developers to pay for this.

That though, will require planning, and in this context we were extremely concerned to see that the borough’s consultation on its Community Infrastructure Levy, one of the ways in which it can achieve this, made no specific reference to re-naturalisation of the River Rom as a project which monies from that source would be used to fund.

Walk of fame a breath of fresh air

Stephen Johnson, via email, writes:

I found your article about a walk of fame in Romford an unexpected and sudden leap of adventure for the town.

It was not that long ago that I heard about the new film studio on a site opposite Dagenham East Station and I did not know we had a film festival. It is all happening.

There is an elderly friend who lives in Havering and she was a child star at one of the British studios, I believe it was Ealing Studio. She occasionally sees herself in a black and white movie on telly. These new events will, or should, be a breath of fresh air for Havering.

There are great possibilities here, especially for the younger generation and there is an arts faculty, I believe, at Havering College.

We have protected a vital service

Cllr Damian White, leader of Havering Council, writes:

Last week, I was proud to announce at a meeting of the full council, that we have successfully secured the future of Hornchurch Police Station.

This is a great victory for the council and the residents of the borough. Through tenacious resistance against the London Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC), we have managed to ensure a police presence for the future in the south of the borough.

Only by being willing to tackle the mayor’s short-sighted plans to reduce operational bases within Havering, through the launch of a judicial review, were we able to negotiate an option on the site in Hornchurch.

The outcome of the original MOPAC decision would have meant residents in this part of Havering having to travel over an hour to their nearest police station, which would have been simply unacceptable.

The result of our careful negotiations means we have protected a vital service, which we intend to enhance overtime.

By stepping in to save Hornchurch Police Station from closure, we will safeguard policing in both the north and south of the borough. I hope our actions will reassure residents that we are prepared to do whatever it takes and will hold the London Mayor to account, in order to keep Havering safe and special.

Previous mayors cut police numbers

John Reid, St Mary’s Lane, Upminster, writes:

Regarding Andrew Rosindell MP’s letter on the purchase of Hornchurch Police station by Havering Council.

I’d like to establish a few things regarding crime and policing of Havering.

In 2004 former mayor Ken Livingstone set up safer neighbour teams in our 18 wards. Each with minimum of a sergeant, two constables and three PCSOs, supplemented with 12 neighbour ward shops .

With Hylands and Brooklands, Heaton and Gooshays, Pettits and Havering Park, Squirrels Heath and Mayneys, St Andrews and Emerson Park,and Upminster and Cranham sharing respectively.

As of 2010 the mayor at the time, Boris Johnson introduced Cluster of North covering six wards middle and south doing the same respectively and instead of six sergeants, 12 constables and 18 PCSOs they went down to one, two and three respectively.

As many of the police shops were on a 10-year rent licence they stayed there, but weren’t manned for the last eight years, where it made sense that Pettits, Mawneys, Squirrels Heath and Brooklands can use Romford station to walk from. In Heaton and Goohays case this didn’t matter as the Harold Hill patrol base was nearby as was the Hornchurch station for both Elm Park and St Andrews. Tesco of Rainham let the police have a room in their store grounds for Wennington and South Hornchurch wards.

As of 2016 new mayor Sadiq Khan managed to get an extra Pc per ward, this was most notable in Harold Wood which has seen the shop not open for several years.

Whereas 2016 saw an increase of stabbing by an alarming 50per cent that has unfortunately stayed as high this year, due to both the previous mayor and the current governments cuts to officer numbers.

Where current mayor Sadiq Khan has increased officers and started to deal with violent crime, the damage done will take years to rectify and the tough choice he had was to either increase numbers, and decrease traditional stations.

It was worth noting that Hornchurch station was nearly never open to the public anyway, and while I welcome Hornchurch station staying it was quite right for the mayor to decide the first priority was to spend the limited money he has on changing around the decrease of officer numbers under his predecessors’ watch.

Police station is not a done deal

Cllr Ray Morgon, Residents Group, leader of the opposition, writes:

A plethora of Conservative politicians have come out to join the celebration in saving Hornchurch Police Station.

I have no issue with this per se, but as Cllr Barrett pointed out in his letter last week, the Hornchurch Residents Association was also out actively engaging with the public collecting signatures for our petition against the closure, as we did back in 2013 when Boris Johnson MP wanted to close the station.

Where were the Tories then? Would they be so active now if there was still a Conservative Mayor? I doubt it.

According to the chief executive of Havering Council, who I have been engaging with on this issue for quite some time, the deal is not yet done and there is only an option to purchase the station and lease it back to the police.

There is still a lot of due diligence to do before any contract is signed and it also needs agreement by the cabinet, although to be honest whatever the deal is put in front of them I doubt whether they will reject it.

So before the Conservatives start popping too many more champagne corks, let us look carefully at the detail to make sure that there is a good business case for this plan and that all the finances stack up.

Stop inflicting more housing

Mr E F W Dean, Fagus Avenue, Rainham, writes:

When will Havering Council stop inflicting more housing onto the residents of the borough?

We have now been told that 600+ properties will be on the ice rink site.

The council must have been aware that Morrison’s were never going to build on this site. Now Mayor Khan has passed this site for development.

We also have a site for development at Dovers Corner also being passed by Mayor Khan.

What with the proposed development on the Barking/Dagenham borders along with the purpose development along the A1306, this borough is being surrounded by a mixture of high rise flats and houses.

How many of the properties will be available to Havering residents one must ask.

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