Beam Park extra housing decision deferred

Havering councillors put off deciding whether to allow even more homes to be built at Beam Park until they know if a planned new station will open.

The future of the  station between Dagenham Docks and Rainham is currently uncertain, as the Department for Transport (DfT) refuses to give final approval.

Due to the area’s poor transport links, if it is not opened, less than half of 3,000 flats already being built can be occupied, according to planning conditions.

Despite this, developer Countryside asked for permission to add another 99 homes to the site, which was debated by Havering Council’s planning committee last night.

At the meeting, Councillor Graham Williamson said the application should be deferred to avoid the council looking stupid, claiming “everybody knows” the station is “not going ahead”.

He added: “[The station] should never have been put there because of the distance between Rainham and Dagenham Docks. It was done to jack up land values.

“The DfT is saying ‘nobody spoke to us’. I’m speculating, but it seems the due diligence wasn’t done by us and the GLA and we’ve hitched up to a white elephant.”

In September Dagenham and Rainham MP John Cruddas announced the station was “cancelled” by the Department for Transport (DfT), a statement it claims is misleading.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said City Hall has committed £43million towards delivering the station, including a ten-year indemnity to protect the DfT against any expected operational deficit.

However, the DfT say they never approved the project, being led by the Greater London Authority (GLA), in the first place.

Their spokesperson added that the money offered for the station by the Greater London Authority (GLA) does not protect taxpayers “from the financial and operational risk”.

Helen Oakerbee, Havering Council’s assistant director told the commitee last night that Havering and the GLA are in “discussions” with the DfT around the financial “indemnity package”.

Councillor Keith Darvill said: “I understand an indemnity was given to the DfT and at the last moment they’ve prioritised commercial traffic on that line over passenger traffic.

“[The Government] criticises this council and we lose planning powers if we don’t deliver [on housing targets]. At the same time they cut our throats by taking out… a major part of our delivery.”

The proposal involved replacing plans for 16 standalone houses with a ten-storey building, and raising another building from six to eight storeys.

Planning officerJohn Kaimakamis admitted the area is not “designed for tall buildings” but said the proposals would fit into the “wider context” of the Beam Park masterplan.

Committee members voted to defer their decision and the application will be reconsidered at a later date.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter