Private investment model funds 100 percent affordable home scheme for Thames View East, Barking

The redevelopment of the eastern end of the Thames View Estate in Barking provides 276 high quality affordable homes for Londoners, achieved without grant-funding or cross-subsidy: the development was made possible by a new private investment model designed to enable social regeneration.

Pollard Thomas Edwards and Jerram Falkus Construction have designed and built the development for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and developer Explore Investments, a Laing O’Rourke Company. Thames View East is a 100 percent affordable home scheme of 151 family houses, 35 duplex flats and 90 one and two bedroom flats. High-quality traditional homes have transformed the estate’s typography, with the original 1950s nine-storey tower blocks and poor quality low-rise stock now demolished. The Council will nominate and manage all the tenancies, and all the homes have let very easily – the majority to existing local people previously housed in unsatisfactory conditions.

The long-term investment model that funded Thames View East was devised by asset management specialist Long Harbour. Under this model the Council has granted a lease over their land for a fixed period to a private joint-venture funder. The joint venture body has financed the construction of the scheme and will cover all lifecycle and maintenance costs in return for a regular income derived from rental receipts. The Council retains the freehold interest in the land, and will receive ownership of the properties (at no extra cost) at the end of the investment period. Meanwhile Barking & Dagenham can alleviate the burden on their housing lists by allowing aspiring families to move into these properties, paying intermediate rents for new, high quality homes. Management of the stock remains with Barking & Dagenham on a fully funded basis. By creating a ring-fenced corporate entity, right-to-buy legislation does not apply and the local authority retains control over their housing stock.

The scheme is predominantly composed of family houses, entered at ground level with active frontages and private back gardens. To meet the cost and programme objectives of the project, a carefully limited range of townhouse types was developed, with variety achieved through subtle variations in plan, roof-form and window arrangements. For example, first floor living rooms are located at the front or rear of the house according to orientation. Oriel windows mark the corner houses and alternate along the terraces to provide enhanced space, light and view.

The houses are complemented by five detached apartment blocks, which create the main public frontage to Renwick Road. The ground and first floors contain duplexes with private gardens, which include homes suitable for disabled residents. The combination of houses and maisonettes also fits the flood risk strategy, which prohibits bedrooms at ground level. Roughly half the homes are corner units, which enjoy exceptionally generous and well-lit common areas. Each block is distinguished by a unique colour scheme and artwork. Space for refuse, bicycles and plant is all integrated within the building, avoiding the need for external stores and shelters.

Pollard Thomas Edwards’ Executive Director, Andrew Beharrell said:

“These are great homes, and in a climate where rising land values and diminishing grant make it very difficult for lower income households to find homes in London, the fact that the scheme is 100% affordable is impressive. What makes it exceptional is that this social good is the outcome of a novel investment scheme, which harnesses international interest in London as a force to provide homes for ordinary Londoners. With the final homes complete in April 2014, the financial model behind the redevelopment will begin to prove its worth.”

Thames View East has also taken the first steps towards meeting Barking and Dagenham’s future energy goals of creating a borough-wide heating system with the inclusion of an energy centre on site. This will provide district heating for the whole estate. The new homes will also reach Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

  • Local Authority: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
  • Developer: Explore Investments, a Laing O’Rourke Company
  • Funding Consultant: Long Harbour
  • Contractor: Jerrram Falkus Construction
  • Architect: Pollard Thomas Edwards

Other consultants:

  • Engineers: ARUP
  • Landscape: Plincke Landscape Architects
  • Planning Consultant: Savills
  • Start on site: July 2012
  • Completion: April 2014
  • Value: £36.7m