Locals angry as Dagenham site empty since 2020 get 72 homes built on top

The pub will be replaced with a six storey and nine storey residential building
-Credit: (Image: Barking and Dagenham Council documents)

The site of a disused pub in Dangeham will be torn down to make way for 72 new homes despite concerns from residents and ward councillors. During a meeting with Barking and Dagenham's planning committee last month (May 20), plans to redevelop a site in Dagenham Village were given the go-ahead by councillors.

The plans will see the former pub, the Bull Inn, flattened to make way for a six-storey and nine-storey block containing 72 flats, which will consist of one-bed, two-beds and three-beds. The Bull Inn on Rainham Road South dates back to the 1920s and ran as a pub and later a live music venue until it closed in 2013.

After its closure, the site was converted into shops and had an Afro-Caribbean grocery and butchers and an Eastern European supermarket next door. However, they ended up closing and the site has stood vacant since 2020. In 2022, a developer called Hollybrook bought the site, which according to council officers had attracted 'a wave of anti-social behaviour' since becoming vacant.

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Residents said the plans, which will see 72 flats built in Dagenham, were 'out of context' with the area
Residents said the plans, which will see 72 flats built in Dagenham, were 'out of context' with the area -Credit:Barking and Dagenham Council documents

Under Hollybrook's plans, 35 per cent of homes will be 'affordable', and will be split into discounted market rent and social rent. The remaining 55 per cent will be rented out privately. During the consultation stage, the plans received objections from residents, the MP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas and Village ward councillors.

Barking and Dagenham Heritage Conservation Group said the area would be losing a 'historic former pub' that had been a local landmark for years. In their objections, residents said the height of the development was 'out of context' with the area and some said it would be better to build a community facility on the site instead.

At last month's meeting, Cllr Lee Waker of Village ward had concerns with the amount of private housing and said local people wouldn't be able to afford to live there. He said: "[Our people]... are not on the sort of wages who can afford rent or mortgages like this anyway."

A picture showing the pub when it was still open in 2008
A picture showing the pub when it was still open in 2008 -Credit:Google Street View

He added: "We were prepared to go along with some sort of compromise, but all we've seen is a compromise ripped from our face...if you do nod it through it won't be the end of it because there will be financial issues down the road."

Cllr Phil Waker, also of Village ward slammed the plans as being out of character with the area as there are a number of listed buildings nearby.

Cllr Phil Waker said: "The community is 100 per cent against this. I've never met one person in favour of the consultation and the application material shows it very clearly."

One resident said: "I understand the pressure for more housing and this site is privately owned but there are many flaws in this proposal.

"We are a village, not just a cluster of streets to be re-imagined or turned into a townscape, we are the oldest part of Dagenham. Our low-rise nature is not an indulgence."

In response to concerns raised, a Hollybrook planning consultant said: "I think it's important to note we are functioning on a plan-lead system.

"This site has been allocated for housing for some time and for a significant amount of housing so that does drive that density and what is acceptable for the site."

Cllr Jack Shaw, who is deputy chair of the planning committee, said pub closures have been really 'acute' in the borough, with more pubs closing down 'than any other local authority in England'.

He told Hollybrook representatives: "I've heard some good words about protecting pubs, but I haven't seen any evidence in your application that even though technically you don't need to provide a re-provision of pubs there, there appears to be no attempts to do so."

Kevin Parsons, the development director of Hollybrook said it would be 'impossible' to include a pub as the proposed flats would be deemed 'un-mortgageable'.

Cllr Jack Shaw said the council had previously approved planning applications with pubs on the ground floor and asked: "Is there any reason why we couldn't provide some pub provision?"

Mr Parsons responded: "There wouldn't be an appetite for our buyers to buy into a scheme with a pub sitting in the middle of it and certainly not for an affordable housing provider."

When it came to the vote, only Cllr Alison Cormack abstained from the plans while the rest of the committee were met with heckles as they voted to approve the plans.

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