CAMPAIGNERS against a number of planning applications across Havering joined together last night to protest against the council’s plans to build 30,000 new homes in the borough.
Groups objecting to potential development on the green at Dover’s Farm in Rainham, a multi-faith burial site in Harold Hill and the poor quality build on the Orchard Village estate in Rainham, were among around 30 people to turn out in pouring rain at Havering Town Hall.
Protesting were also residents opposed to a gravel extraction plant in Wennington, who this week saw the Planning Inspectorate approve developer Ingrebourne Valley Ltd’s appeal to press ahead with the plans.
The campaigners lamented the ‘death’ of Havering by recreating a funeral scene complete with people dressed in a priest and coffin costume, lilies for the grave, and placards saying RIP. They met councillors as they attended the Annual Meeting of the Council, receiving support from local independent councillors.
Colin Nickless, Chairman of the Orchard Village Residents Association, said: “Some councillors were saying this was the wrong time and ridiculous, but people have to know what the council are trying to push through.”
Havering Council plans to build 30,000 new homes in the borough by 2035. As part of this vision, 3,500 homes will be built in the Rainham Housing Zone.
Mr Nickless added: “Many of these homes will be on the green belt land in Havering, many are in unsuitable spaces and the majority are going to be more versions of Orchard Village, with the council continuing to award contracts to the developer of that estate, Clarion Housing Group.
“Services have already been impacted by cuts. If you’re adding another 30,000 homes to Havering and you’re not providing adequate additional infrastructure, how is this going to benefit anyone. Everyone is losing here, not just the people moving into these new properties, but the people that are here already.”
Havering Council responded to the protest stating huge investment in transport infrastructure would accompany the housing developments, with a brand new school being built to serve Rainham and other schools being expanded.
Steve Moore, Havering Council’s Director of Neighbourhoods said: “Havering Council is committed to building more homes to cater for a growing population and to give the children of Havering residents the chance to live in a home they can afford in our borough. New homes are also required to replace 3,500 home across 12 of our housing developments where better homes, fit for the 21st Century, are required for the residents of those estates.”
Jon Cruddas is seeking re-election to the Rainham and Dagenham seat for Labour, and has led his campaign on a petition to halt the council’s 30,000-homes plan.
He said: “The scandal of Orchard Village proves that Havering Council’s housing policy is simply not-fit-for-purpose.
“What should have been a model of contemporary social housing is now a textbook for failure. As last week’s Enquirer story showed, the place is falling apart – and dangerously so.
“That’s why council plans to dump more properties in the south of Havering are emerging as the number one issue on the doorstep. Residents are extremely concerned that their green land and flood plains are going to be concreted over.
“That is why I launched this petition – which I want everyone who cares about our green land, our communal spaces and our environment to sign.”
A motion has been put forward for the next council meeting opposing the 30,000-homes plan and Mr Nickless says the campaigners will take their protest into Romford Town Centre on a Saturday in the next couple of weeks with leaflets.