A programme of art, architecture and infrastructure to mark the centenary of the UK’s biggest council housing estate

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

Woodward Library

Woodward Road

September 2023

Barking and Dagenham Council has been awarded a capital grant from Arts Council England to redevelop the old Barking Public Library site on Woodward Road, Becontree Estate into a community arts centre and digital hub. It will build on the legacy of the Arts and Culture Hub at Valence Library, which was a base for Becontree Forever and Becontree Broadcasting Station through the centenary.

Barking Public Library – the first library built on the estate – will become a base for the future programme. The library will be a central arts and digital hub currently lacking on the Becontree Estate or in the wider Dagenham area.

The library will be redeveloped to have a fully accessible ground floor space that is welcoming to all in the local community and beyond. The space, whilst not run as a library itself, will be part of the borough’s Safe Spaces initiative, allowing young residents free and unquestioned access at designated after-school hours throughout the year.

Planned uses for the arts centre will include:

  • A permanent base for Becontree Broadcasting Station.

  • A creative digital hub space providing much needed digital access and skills training for artists, cultural practitioners and residents.

  • Work and studio spaces for artists, curators and cultural practioners to rent at affordable rates in exchange for leading community-based activities for estate and borough residents, both on site and directly in the community.

  • Rehearsal, exhibition and performance space for community groups, curators, socially engaged practitioners and artists to develop new work that emerges directly from the experiences of residents of the area, both past and present.

  • Public realm seating and sustainable garden spaces.

  • A community kitchen to be used by core cultural partners and artists.

  • Workshop spaces for community-based programming that are bookable by individual residents and local cultural organisations.

Woodward Road

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This project has been funded by Arts Council England's National Lottery Projects Grant.