Richard Cherry, chief executive of partnerships at Countryside, has said Barking and Dagenham Council’s vision and the borough’s strategic location are key factors in the developer’s confidence to invest in the area.
Speaking at an event organised by 3Fox International, publisher of Barking and Dagenham regeneration magazine, BOLD, Cherry said that residents of the borough should be "really proud of their leadership". "They are in great hands," he added.
The reception followed the local authority’s participation at the global property conference, MIPIM, in Cannes on 13 February.
Cherry added: “The leadership is very effective and has a very professional group of top officers. There is masses of potential here, but delivery is of course key, and they are doing that with great energy and skill.”
“The borough wants growth, but it wants a good growth. It’s not just about the new jobs created or houses built: it’s about quality, it’s about well-designed buildings.”
Countryside’s involvement in the borough dates back to the early 90s, with the development of Vicarage Shopping Centre. “In those days, I always had the impression that the borough was waiting for things to happen, waiting for the government to allow them to build more council houses.
“But now there is a much more proactive attitude, and that really means a lot to anyone coming to invest here.”
Cherry mentioned the council’s effort to integrate people who are new to the borough, the “impressive” school programme and the borough’s location as factors which “give us great confidence to come here to invest”.
“This is a very strategic location: it is close to the centre of London but also to the countryside. The public transport is very good and housing represents good value for money. It’s a great opportunity for young people to get on the housing ladder and we’re delighted to play a part in that.”
Cherry also spoke about the company’s recent and ongoing projects in the borough, such as Fresh Wharf, which he described as a “challenging project”, for which the council had been “incredibly supportive”.
He said the company was “really looking forward” to implementing its vision for Beam Park – the 29-ha scheme on the site of a former, now derelict Ford factory plant in Dagenham, which will see 3,000 homes, a new train station on the C2C line and community facilities developed.
Countryside and London and Quadrant (L&Q) Housing Trust were selected as partners for the project by the Greater London Authority in Decemeber, and Cherry said they were working in partnership with the council to deliver a “thriving and socially sustainable new neighbourhood”.
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