Pitching in for the local community

Staff building raised beds
Havering Council Chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert (right) and Director of Neighbourhoods Steve Moore carry one of the railway sleepers that will make the raised vegetable bed at Will Perrin Court, Rainham.
Published: Thursday, 14 June 2018

Senior Havering Council staff have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in to gardening, building flower beds and vegetable patches at a number of housing estates in the borough.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert, and Director of Neighbourhoods, Steve Moore, were joined by a team from Wates Residential – the Council’s partner for the regeneration of 12 local estates – as a number of Havering’s housing schemes reaped the benefits of a major week-long volunteering event led by the national developer.

The joint venture between Wates Residential and Havering Council, which will see around 3,000 homes built on sites across the borough over the next 12 years, was announced in March.

More than 30 staff from Wates Residential swapped their day jobs to spend time volunteering to support local residents in Havering as part of the company’s ‘Reshaping Tomorrow Week’ (11 – 15 June).

In total, three flower beds and three raised vegetable patches were built and planted at six locations across the borough, including at sheltered schemes, temporary accommodation facilities and homeless hostels.

Twelve Wates Residential employees spent Tuesday working at the Queens Street Villas and Abercrombie House schemes in Romford, and other staff planted flower beds at Cottons Court in Romford on Wednesday.

On Thursday, ten staff from Wates Residential spent time at Will Perrin Court in Rainham where they built a new flower bed and raised vegetable patch, planting it with herbs and vegetables.

A team from Wates Residential also ran a ‘lunch and learn’ session for six local residents to help bridge the skills gap and encourage more people to get back into work through employment in the construction industry.

The developer invested more than £3,000 in materials to carry out the projects, generating nearly £8,000 in social value across three days.

The activities are part of Wates Residential’s wider pledge to deliver a lasting legacy for the community as part of the joint venture, which is one of the biggest social housing regeneration schemes in London. Through the developer’s investment in skills, training and education, the Council predicts social value benefits for Phase 1 of the project will be worth around £6.8 million.

Commitments include a comprehensive programme of community initiatives and commitments to the wider borough, from the creation of a new Construction Academy to school curriculum support and the delivery of around 165 apprenticeships across the life of the scheme. There will also be a focus on investment in local facilities. 

The joint venture aims to deliver improved housing for local people, with the amount of affordable housing across the estates doubling under the project and council rented accommodation increasing by 70 per cent. The right to return is guaranteed to every existing resident on the estates being regenerated.

Paul Nicholls, Managing Director of Wates Residential South, said:

“At Wates Residential, we strongly believe that we have a role to play in supporting local communities so it is fantastic to be able to give something back to Havering. We know our staff all found this a hugely rewarding experience and are looking forward to investing further in local facilities for Havering residents as we deliver more than 3,000 much-needed new homes over the next 12 years.”

Speaking as he helped prepare the ground for a new vegetable and herb planter at Will Perrin Court Havering Council’s Chief Executive Andrew Blake-Herbert said:

“This project today is just a small example of the social value our development partner is putting back into the local community. The commitment of Wates Residential to this type of work was one of the strengths of their bid to be our joint venture partner.”