Harold Hill’s new family welcome centre given go-ahead

Mick Ferris

Planning consent has been granted for a new centre to provide emergency accommodation for vulnerable families in Havering. Proposed plans include a new Health Centre, a secure courtyard, communal facilities and breakout spaces to support families’ physical and mental wellbeing.

The family welcome centre will form the first phase of the Harold Hill Town Centre regeneration masterplan.

Havering’s vision for the regeneration of Harold Hill Town Centre received Cabinet approval in spring 2021; it includes the redevelopment of the Farnham & Hilldene Estate, Chippenham Road and the current Abercrombie House hostel.

The proposed welcome centre, designed by architects Hawkins\Brown, will consist of 74 self-contained rooms in a variety of sizes, with the largest size accommodating up to eight family members. The project was shared with residents and businesses through an online public consultation in June 2021, and three further consultations in-person in June and December 2021 and June 2022 with overwhelming support for the proposals.

Designed as a U-shaped building, a landscaped central courtyard will sit at the heart of the centre, creating an attractive and secure space for families – including a play area for children.

Internally, the centre will include several shared spaces, such as recreational spaces for residents and families, as well as support facilities and private areas.

A health centre on the ground and first floors, positioned along Hilldene Avenue, will also deliver accessible health services to the wider local community.

The new Family Welcome Centre will replace the borough’s existing hostels. This will include Abercrombie House and Will Perrin Court, which will close as soon as the new Family Welcome Centre is completed. A working group will also be created with local residents from South Hornchurch to agree on options for the future use of the Will Perrin site.

Councillor Paul McGeary, cabinet lead for housing at Havering Council, said: “Our new Family Welcome Centre will be the first of its kind in Havering and will help to increase the support available for Havering’s most vulnerable residents.

“The new centre will ensure we are able to look after families that find themselves in dire situations, providing them with a safe, high-quality, and comfortable place to stay while we find them permanent homes.”

Nick Gaskell, partner and workplace sector lead at Hawkins\Brown, said: “The proposed Family Welcome Centre will help provide a welcoming and uplifting environment for families who are going through a potentially distressing period in their lives. It was important that the health and wellbeing of families were considered first and foremost through a visual link to nature, access to generous amenity spaces as well as a healthcare provision within the building. We hope that it will set a new standard for this type of accommodation across the UK.”

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk