20 February 2007

Local stuff - Rainham

Beam Reach in Rainham is one of a large number of schemes that form the London Riverside Regeneration Project.. Basically it is a pretty innocuous development scheme or it was until the weekend anyway:

This week’s Romford Recorder has BRITAIN’S BIGGEST PRISON as its front page headline. Apparently the Beam Reach site is earmarked as the site for a prison that will hold 1500 Category B prisoners (serious offenders but not the very “worst of the worst!). If built it would be the largest prison in Britain. The paper states that the plan is opposed by residents and councilors. Local MP James Brokenshire says this on his website :

“This astonishing suggestion smacks of utter desperation by the Home Office. This has to be one of the most absurd sites to locate a prison, being slap bang in the middle of an area proposed to bring about local regeneration and a transformation in the prospects for high tech manufacturing. I entirely accept the need for more prisons, but that doesn’t mean that you should consider them in wholly inappropriate locations like this It’s now clear that the vision of Rainham as a dumping ground for east London’s problems is one that is still writ large in Government circles.”

It would also seem that Rainham could be the destination of the UK’s largest evangelical church. The Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) has to move from its current premises in Hackney because the site is within the 2012 Olympic park. The London Development Agency has suggested the church buy LDA owned land on the Beam Reach Business Park.

KICC regularly attracts thousands of people to its services. It is thought a £35 million arena which could hold an 8,000 strong congregation, is being proposed. Local residents say they're worried the village just doesn't have the transport infrastructure to deal with such a large number of people on its roads.

There's also been concern because the Beam Reach business park has been marked by the LDA as a site put aside for business and employment development. Hornchurch MP James Brokenshire has questioned what economic benefit the church could bring.

The London Thames Gatesway Development Agency who would be responsible for giving planning permission for this development, say they've not yet received any planning applications from the church with regards to this site.

In some respects all of this sounds like Nimbyism but the area is earmarked for business regeneration and local infrastructure probably isn't up to the trafffic the church would attract. I wonder what John Cruddas' take on this is: this part of Hornchurch is merging with his constituency for the next election and barring disaster he will be the area's next MP.

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