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Ex-civil service chief Lord Kerslake to chair council-owned "regeneration giant"

Lord Kerslake has been appointed as chair of Be First, a regeneration company wholly owned by Barking & Dagenham Council.

The former head of the civil service and DCLG permanent secretary is also currently chair of Peabody, one of London's oldest and largest housing associations.

Be First, which is expected to start trading in October, will invest land and cash directly and attract external investment to support the development of new homes, infrastructure and jobs.

The council will continue to make the final decision on planning applications and to approve strategic plans and policies. However, the company will offer a range of strategic, pre-planning and project delivery services, as well as setting up joint ventures and other special purpose companies to deliver regeneration.

Barking & Dagenham's existing regeneration, planning and capital delivery staff will transfer to Be First under TUPE regulations in the summer.

Speaking at international property conference MIPIM, council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: "Lord Kerslake was a giant in central and local government and an expert in housing and now he will be chairing what will be regen giant.  

"Our borough is already renowned as one of London's premier growth areas, with hugely exciting developments such as Barking Riverside and our plans for Made in Dagenham studios. 

"But bringing in Lord Kerslake and creating Be First will put rocket boosters on our drive to make Barking and Dagenham a magnet for tens of thousands of affordable quality homes and well paid jobs for ordinary, aspirational Londoners."

Lord Kerslake said: "Barking and Dagenham is already known as one of the capital's hottest investment areas and promises huge opportunities for further growth.  "I am hugely looking forward to helping Darren making sure this eastern promise is delivered for the benefit of all residents." 

Appointments to the board of Be First, which will include representatives of TfL and the GLA, are set to be completed by the summer. A chief executive is expected to be recruited by May. 

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