Havering Council pushes ahead with Harold Hill housing plan

Havering Council is pushing ahead with its plan for 138 new homes in Harold Hill as part of a major regeneration project.

Disused land off Chippenham Road has been earmarked for four apartment blocks, offering a mix of one, two, three, and four-bedroom properties.

The new proposals comprise the second stage of the Harold Hill Town Centre Masterplan, which the council says will address the “pressing need for housing”.

A public consultation on the plans is currently underway until May 6.

Graham Williamson, the authority’s cabinet member for development and regeneration, encouraged residents to attend two in-person events at Harold Hill Library on Thursday (April 25) and Saturday April 27.

He said: “This second round of consultation presents another valuable opportunity for the community to actively participate in the development process, ensuring that the final outcome truly reflects the needs and aspirations of the people of Harold Hill.

“Your input is invaluable in shaping the future of our vibrant community.”

Of the 138 new homes, 21 are designed for young people leaving care. A further twelve will be wheelchair accessible.

The redevelopment of Harold Hill is a significant undertaking for the authority.

In March 2021, the cabinet approved the plans, which would cost £192.8million in council money and a further £21.7m in general funding.

Havering first consulted residents on the master plan in mid-2016, and various forums were held over the next six years.

Planning permission was granted for a new family and health centre on the site of the former Abercrombie Hotel, the first phase of the master plan, in 2022. Construction work began in autumn 2023.

The project is expected to take a “significant number of years,” the council says.

Meanwhile, on Thursday (18th April), the council confirmed its plans to bid for a £24m grant from City Hall to buy up homes to use for social housing.

Officials hope to use the money to buy 160 homes to offset a rising demand for housing, which it says has been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis and increased homelessness in the borough.

It currently costs Havering £73 a day to house a homeless person in a hotel. A family costs £91.

In the meantime, the council has been buying back homes to increase its housing stock, including two in Stirling Close and Meynell Road.

The Greater London Authority launched the Council Homes Acquisition Programme – or CHAP – this month in response to London’s “urgent need” for social housing.

It is designed to give councils the ability to purchase a total of 10,000 new homes across the capital.

Havering previously secured £66m in funding for new-build housing schemes and, in its application to the GLA, argued it had a “strong track record in delivering affordable housing” through similar programmes.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter