The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“… a quick commute to Central London, interesting architecture, good community spirit and that rare find in the capital – affordable housing”
Moving to Barking and Dagenham
Perched on the edge of East London, the once thriving industrial heart of the area now beats to the slow rhythm of a Ford Motor factory past its prime, far removed from the days when it celebrated the production of over 10 million cars. As a result, encouraging and promoting redevelopment is one of the primary concerns of the council.
Voted one of the worst places to live in the UK in a 2015 survey of resident satisfaction, Barking and Dagenham still has a long way to go until it sees the success of neighbouring boroughs such as Greenwich and Bexley. However, although much of the borough is built up around council housing estates, a continuous effort is being made to provide the area with a new and modern face to suit its largely young, multicultural and lively population. Barking Town Square is a prime example of the council’s regeneration efforts – completed in 2007, the geometrically-patterned buildings host a library, space for festivals, outdoor events and 246 new homes, highlighting Barking’s appeal as an upcoming area.
In addition, there are some underrated upsides to Barking that are oft-ignored by detractors, including a quick commute to Central London, interesting architecture, good community spirit and that rare find in the capital – affordable housing.
House Prices in Barking and Dagenham
Despite gradual increases over the years, Barking and Dagenham still remains the cheapest London borough in which to buy a home, making it an ideal location for first-time buyers. The average house price here is around £320,000 (as of September 2020), significantly less than the London average, whilst the myriad of regeneration projects make this a good place to invest early and get onto the property ladder.
“The area is connected to London on underground Tube lines including the District Line and the Hammersmith & City lines, with a trip to central London taking less than half an hour. “
Most trips across the area are made by car, with just 25% of local travel on public transport. The A12 in the north and the A13 in the south do well to connect the borough to the rest of London, with a drive to the City taking approximately 40 minutes in good traffic. However, the council continues to encourage better use of public transport, with plans to invest funding into implementing better facilities and training for cyclists.
The area is connected to London on underground Tube lines including the District Line and the Hammersmith & City lines, with a trip to central London taking less than half an hour. National Rail services and the Overground are also available from Barking Station, connecting locals to the northern and southern suburbs of London.
Restaurant choices in Barking are rather limited, particularly if you’re fond of fine dining, but the odd gem can be found as well as some trustworthy national chains. Central Barking is home to a Nando’s and Frankie & Benny’s among others, whilst Cristina’s Steakhouse and Poppins Breakfast restaurant are consistently popular with both locals and visitors. The borough is particularly strong on Indian and South Asian cuisine, with some of the best options including Shapla, Bengal Lancer and Kolachi, all of which are located in Longbridge Road.
Barking currently has a reasonably poor selection of shops, although its main shopping centre Vicarage Field is set to ‘rival Westfields’ in the coming years as a result of a multi-million pound redevelopment which will add a cinema and music venue among other amenities. Until then, the centre provides a small selection of high street shops, including Argos, Burtons and B&M. Close to Dagenham Heath station you’ll find a better range of options at the Heathway Shopping Centre, including Boots, JD Sports and Wilko.
The borough is home to large branches of Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as smaller local supermarkets and discount chains including Poundland and Iceland. For something a little different, Barking Market offers some international street foods.
Health and sport
Barking and Dagenham fares poorly when it comes to a selection of fitness and leisure facilities, although they are gradually improving. A branch of nationwide chain The Gym opened in late 2014, while council-run services include Abbey Leisure Centre, the Park Centre, and Jim Peters Stadium.
Weekend evenings in Barking aren’t quite the culture-rich, riotous affair that you might find in more affluent boroughs, although the area does make a valiant effort with The Broadway Theatre offering regular performances, and two cinemas in the form of the Vue Cinema on Cork Road and the Showcase Cinema on Jenkins Lane.
For history buffs, on the other hand, Barking and Dagenham is home to a surprising number of historic buildings. The stunning Eastbury Manor House is a National Trust property, whilst Becontree Estate is a project which flourished with the goal of building homes fit for heroes after the First World War. It has since been celebrated as the largest project of its sort, resulting in the creation of 27,000 homes for 100,000 people.
“While not the greenest of boroughs, Barking and Dagenham does still have a reasonable selection of green spaces, with around 25 parks in total.”
Schools and education
The best primary schools in Barking and Dagenham include St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School, William Ford CofE Primary School, and Beam Primary School, all of which are high-performing schools with more than 90% of students expected to achieve Level 4 in English and Maths. There is one independent school in the area, Lady Aisha Academy, which has a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.
Safety in Barking and Dagenham
Barking and Dagenham like many boroughs in London has a higher crime rate than the national average. Despite being in the top 10 safest London boroughs according to recorded crime rates, crime is currently on the rise in Barking and Dagenham – between March 2015 and March 2016, burglary was up by more than 33 per cent, and violent crimes also saw a marked increase. The borough also has the unfortunate title of being the ‘most burgled town in Britain’ following a 2015 study.
Green space in Barking and Dagenham
Whilst not the greenest of boroughs, Barking and Dagenham does still have a reasonable selection of green spaces, with around 25 parks in total. At 58 hectares, Parsloes Park is the largest and features a nature reserve, tennis courts, a bowling green and a lake among other amenities. Other well-loved parks in the borough include Barking Park, where you’ll find a boating lake and a water park, and Mayesbrook Park.
History of Barking and Dagenham
From housing nuns in Barking Abbey during the 700s to emerging as a vibrant fishing hub in the 1700s, Barking and Dagenham has seen its fortunes rise and fall throughout the years. Industrial development brought new industries during the interwar years, but a slow decline in the 1960s led to Barking and Dagenham.
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