Barking and Dagenham’s smart new neighbourhoods

Regeneration brings good-value family homes with strong design and eco-credentials.
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Head east out of the capital, past Canary Wharf, and you are confronted by a forbidding landscape of derelict factories and breakers’ yards, freight depots, power stations and refineries clinging to the banks of the Thames. This is the raw end of the Thames Gateway but these days, happily, industrial decline is a regeneration opportunity.
Female machinists portrayed in the hit film and West End musical Made in Dagenham, striking for equal pay, were among those who lived on the Mardyke Estate, built in the Sixties to house Ford workers. Much later this estate, dilapidated and crime-ridden, became a symbol of Dagenham’s demise, sparked by Ford’s exit from the town.

Today, the estate is getting an £80 million facelift and a new identity — Orchard Village — and people are queuing up to live there, with 225 applications for every new home that becomes available.
The new name picks up on the site’s former use as a fruit farm. Landscaping with green corridors through the development link open spaces within and around the site, including a new community square with grids of trees and sculptures of giant apples, cherries and strawberries.
From £335,000: Orchard Village in Dagenham has family-size townhouses

Centra, part of Circle housing association, is building 516 new homes for rent, shared ownership and private sale.
Three-bedroom townhouses with garden, roof terrace and parking space have been launched. Prices from £335,000. Call 0845 223 0000. An on-site energy centre reduces homes’ energy consumption by 20 per cent.
Former gravel pits at Dagenham are being turned into Lymington Fields, with 418 homes on a site the size of 210 football pitches, while houses are on offer at Castle Green Place. Prices from £285,000, or £114,000 for a 40 per cent share. Call Newlon on 0800 058 2544.

Dagenham is in Zone 5 on the District line, but Barking sits in Zone 4, that little bit nearer in, with a 20-minute train journey to Canary Wharf and Fenchurch Street.
The town flourished during the post-war years when East Enders fleeing slum conditions settled there and new industries such as Ford opened factories. Now a revival is under way. Almost 80 per cent of the housing stock is public sector, but the council is keen to promote private housing with a strategy to reduce council homes to 50 per cent.
Barking Central is a bright and jazzy modern private development that forms part of a new town hall square — 207 flats built above a library, gallery space and café. Two-bedroom flats cost from £240,000. Call Life Residential on 020 8012 4449.
Another regeneration priority is to link the town centre to the River Roding, once home to Barking’s Victorian fishing fleet. The plan is to convert former mills and malthouses into a waterside community of flats, cafés, shops and work studios.
From £189,995: two-bedroom flats at City East, Barking Riverside’s new phase
Barking Riverside
, a new neighbourhood of 10,800 homes, is being built alongside the Thames. The masterplan describes eight “character areas”, linked by parks, creating a small town with 25,000 residents and 140 acres of open space.
The development is already winning architectural awards for its green credentials and contemporary design. Soil excavated during construction of the Channel Tunnel rail link is being used to raise flood defences. There will be a nature reserve bordering mudflats, plus cycle paths and riverside walks.
A spin-off for the residents is cheap energy captured from surplus power station steam dumped into the Thames. At City East, the latest phase, prices start at £189,995 for two-bedroom flats. Four-bedroom houses cost from £319,995. Call Bellway on 020 8594 9709.
Barking’s image may deter some buyers but it’s a chance for young families to make good use of several new schools, GP surgeries, places of worship,  community facilities and amenities, and possibly a new Docklands Light Railway station.

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