News from Barking & Dagenham – April 2023
Traditional pub disappears
“The White Horse” in Dagenham is not exactly an internationally recognised architectural monument, but it has at least made it onto the city’s list of buildings worth preserving. Nevertheless, the pub is now to disappear and make way for 104 new flats. The only point of contention is how many of them will be designated as social housing. The investor wants to offer 10 %, the city is demanding 35 %.
The end of the pub was probably prepared long in advance. First the owner looked for a tenant, of whom we read that he could not even draw a beer. Then the rooms stood empty for five years, and then there were two fires. The building on the High Road has a long history; there had been an inn on this site for 400 years.
Big numbers for new jobs
The Ford site in Dagenham is to become part of a London Freeport. The project became official with the budget for 2021, which is when the first spending was planned. In total, government and industry are to invest a whopping £4.6 billion, and 21,000 jobs are expected. It is not only the industrial area in Dagenham that is affected, parts of Tilbury and Gateway are also to be part of the free port.
Among other things, the project is intended to drive industrial development in a future-proof direction: automated and electric vehicles, renewable energy and batteries. There is one concern associated with the project: A free port could attract businesses with questionable working conditions.
Valence House gets moat again
The only remaining manor house in Dagenham, Valence House, has received over £800,000 from government funds for improvement works. The history of the house can be traced back to 1269. Today it houses the town archives and the local history museum. The grant money will be used to spruce up the green spaces around it and restore the moat, among other things.
Before the construction work starts, the “Summer of Festivals” will be celebrated there, this time on 6 and 7 May. The occasion is clear: on Saturday there will be the big coronation event from 11 am to 5 pm, followed by the One Borough Festival on Sunday, from 1 pm to 5 pm. There is plenty of music on both days, and festival-goers will find everything they need for a hearty picnic.
Middle-age regulation against market relocation
Three wholesale markets are to move to Dagenham: Billingsgate (fish), Smithfield (meat) and Spittalsfield (fruit and vegetables). Neighbouring Borough Havering fears that this will make its own market and food shops much less attractive because the wholesale markets are also to sell to private customers.
The town council has therefore lodged a complaint, citing a 776-year-old law. At that time, King Henry III forbade the creation of new markets in the vicinity of functioning ones. The benchmark is the distance a flock of sheep can be driven in a day, 6.66 miles. The aim is to ban all retail sales at wholesale markets.
Industrial complex without CO² emissions
The Borough Council has granted permission for the planning of a complex with ten modern industrial plants that will emit no carbon dioxide. The manufacturing units range in size from 800 to 12,000 square metres and are located on High Road in Chadwell Heath. A Chicago-based company bought the space, which totals more than 52,000 square metres, last year. Photovoltaic systems, heat pumps, LED lighting, heat collectors – all possibilities are to be exhausted. The whole thing is not a vague vision of the future; construction is to start this year, and leasing will begin in 2024.
Healthy food on a tight budget
For children whose families cannot afford to travel during the Easter holidays, Barking and Dagenham has set up a programme with a variety of leisure activities. This includes free meals. In addition, the municipality has now enlisted the support of a non-profit vegetable and fruit wholesaler and, with the help of volunteers, has packed bags for healthy meals. In the meantime, 1000 of these bags of healthy food have been distributed to needy families through the children from the holiday campaign.
The Barking & Dagenham and Witten twinning arrangement is one of the oldest existing contacts between a German town and an English town.