Plans by Havering Council to buy up plots of land to support new housing in Dagenham have been withdrawn due to the confusion over plans for a new railway station next to the housing development.
The site, Beam Park is the former Ford manufacturing plant in Dagenham, now owned by the GLA, and in 2019 received consents for a 3,000 home development, with around half classed as “affordable”. As part of the agreement, a new railway station was to be built next to the site on the existing C2C railway line, roughly halfway between Dagenham Dock and Rainham, to support both this development, and future planned housing developments to the east of the station.
To support the development of this and neighbouring housing estates, the developers having not secured agreements to buy up a cluster to separate plots, mostly occupied by light industry, to create a single estate, Havering Council had agreed to step in and issue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the owners.
However, the unexpected announcement in September that the Department for Transport (DfT) would not support the opening of a new railway station at Beam Park has thrown the entire development into confusion.
The approval for the housing development has a clause limiting the number of homes built to around 1,290 homes, less than half the 3,000 homes being planned for. There are also a number of other developments close to Beam Park also being planned, and these would add another 4,000 to 6,000 additional homes to the area.
These were all conditional on the opening of Beam Park station, however, although the Greater London Authority has agreed to cover the new station’s running costs for the next decade, the DfT is still not convinced of the long term viability of a railway station being built next to nearly 10,000 homes.
Because of the uncertainty caused by the Beam Park station decision and how that affects the rest of the housing estate development, Havering Council were in a difficult position regarding the land it wanted to buy for the housing.
Without the new station, the extra housing might not be built, and a public inquiry into the CPO would likely find that the purchase order is not required. The council would then face not only the costs of the inquiry but possible claims for compensation due to “blight” caused by the legal process on the landowners.
In a paper prepared for a council meeting, it was said that the council’s case for buying the land had been so “fundamentally undermined by the DfT’s stance on the new station and that pursuing the CPO to Public Inquiry in January 2022 would have a high risk of the CPO not being confirmed,”
In addition, there is also concerns around the TfL funding for the Beam Parkway scheme that has been designed to transform a busy road into a linear park with amenity spaces, walking and cycling facilities, improving connections between communities. TfL had been expected to part-fund this scheme with a £5 million grant but have not been able to provide this funding given their financial position.
In a statement, Councillor Damian White, the Leader of Havering Council said: “The current situation is unacceptable and we need both parties to come to a positive resolution. All our plans centre on a station being built and is an important part of the jigsaw puzzle for regeneration in the area.”
“No station, will mean fewer homes.”
At the moment, until the situation at Beam Park station is sorted out, Havering’s planned regeneration of the area which includes building thousands of new homes is on hold.