Barking and Dagenham offers “tremendous investment potential”, according to David Lunts, executive director of housing and land at the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Lunts was part of a panel discussion at MIPIM, the global property conference in Cannes, which featured Barking and Dagenham’s council leader, Darren Rodwell and chief executive, Chris Naylor, as well as key developers who are aiming to transform the borough between the next 10 and 20 years.
Praise for the borough’s administration was unanimous from the panel. Peter Cornforth is the director of retail at Benson Elliot, which recently purchased the Vicarage Field shopping centre. He said the transaction “wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Darren and the team.” Consultation is under way on a mixed-use redevelopment of the site, which could see up to 850 homes built, as well as commercial space created.
“[The council] is one of the most effective you can work with anywhere in London from an investor point of view,” he said.
Richard Cherry, chief executive officer at Countryside, which has been selected with London and Quadrant to redevelop Beam Park – a scheme which will see 3,500 homes and a railway station on the C2C line built – spoke of Barking and Dagenham’s ambition.
“We have been involved with Barking and Dagenham for 25 years,” he said. “We always saw the strategic advantages of the borough but there wasn’t always the leadership.
“There used to be resistance to private sector development but things have changed radically. There is now inspirational leadership, but more than that – there are terrific technical skills and a well-ordered plan. We have tremendous confidence in the borough.”
Lunts praised Rodwell and Chris Naylor, the latter of whom recently arrived from Barnet Council: "Darren has provided inspirational leadership and that has been supplemented by Chris’s arrival," he said.
"For a very long time, the borough has been one of London’s hidden stories, but I think fewer and fewer people are now unaware of what a tremendous investment potential Barking and Dagenham offers."
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