On the 16th of July, a zoom planning meeting will be held to decide if 239 new homes will be built in Rainham.
The 155 private flats and 84 social housing flats are to be located on New Road, next to the Rainham Steel plant, and built by a joint venture between the London Borough of Havering and Notting Hill Genesis, a large housing association.
Rainham Steel generates £120 million a year and is one of the most significant and successful businesses in Havering and now its Managing Director Richard Carr fears his business will have no protection from future noise complaints due to the close proximity of the proposed new homes.
The housing application has been deferred twice by the planning committee following objections by Mr. Carr to the development.
Mr. Carr is concerned that any housing development being built next to the plant will be substandard as residents would not be able to open their windows properly, use balconies or external space, due to the high level of noise and dust coming from the plant.
The Council has proposed the installation of triple glazed windows to stop the noise levels from the site which operates up to twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.
Rainham Steel has commissioned an external noise assessment to monitor the plant’s noise levels over a 7 day period that clearly concluded that the noise levels are in excess of the guidance that are set by the British Standards and National policy. Planning Committee members have been on-site to visit the plant and hear the noise for themselves.
“It’s a very noisy operation,” said Mr. Carr, “The noise we create is heavy impact noise from steel handling and processing that can occur at any time of the day or night. We have lorries, forklift trucks, and outdoor cranes constantly moving at all times that also create noise and dust” he explained.
“Helen Oakerby, the Assistant Director of Planning recently stated that whilst she was fully aware that we exceed all noise levels for residential development and that we can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, she actually thinks it is quite reasonable for occupants to either never open their windows at all or be able to do so if they do not find the noise disturbing.”
Mr. Carr told the Havering Daily: “The council is clearly prepared to do anything in their greed to meet the housing targets including building substandard housing and forcing out businesses. It seems that the greed to meet targets is driven by the current leader’s political ambitions and not in the best interest of the people or businesses in the borough.”
The application site is currently all industrial/commercial with businesses ranging from scaffolding companies to car and tyre sales.
Mr. Carr added: “Clearly the council is not proposing to air-condition the flats because of the cost and they have already proposed trickle ventilation only. Why would anyone choose to live like this with very limited fresh air inside and constant noise disturbance outside? Perhaps the council is planning it for social housing occupants who probably don’t have a choice.”
Havering Council has obtained compulsory purchase powers to buy the plots of land from the businesses on the application site but Rainham Steel has not been included in the area covering the compulsory purchase order. According to Richard Carr this is because “our business would be very difficult to relocate and too expensive to buy out. The Council and their partner attempted to buy us out privately with a very derisory offer which was quickly declined because it is not easy and very expensive for us to move”.
If the planning application is agreed, the Managing Director fears that this very successful Rainham business which employs over 90 people will be severely restricted particularly at night following complaints.
“The council has confirmed that we would be afforded no protection from noise complaints and that they will enforce against us and ultimately force the closure of the business if we cannot operate alongside the residential occupiers.
“This cannot be right, officers of the council should be there to serve and protect the people and not for commercial gain at the expense of the borough or to satisfy the leader’s personal/political aspirations. I have tried to engage with the leader Damian White but he is clearly avoiding any meaningful contact with me”.
Havering’s Leader of the council Councillor Damian White told the Havering Daily: “The housing application has gone to the housing committee and it will be for them to review.”