London’s first OnSide Youth Zone has been given the green light after Barking and Dagenham Council and the Greater London Authority approved a planning application.
Building work on Parsloes Park – at the corner of Gale Street and Porters Avenue – will commence later this year. When it opens in 2018, the Youth Zone will offer a wide range of activities for young people aged between eight and 19 and up to 25 for those with additional needs seven days a week, including dance, sport, art, music, drama, media, employability and mentoring programmes.
The young people of Barking and Dagenham, who voted to name the Youth Zone ‘Future’ during a branding process last year, will pay just 50p per visit and £5 a year for membership.
It is an historic step for the national OnSide charity, with Future as its first London Youth Zone, joining a highly successful network of existing centres across the North of England and the Midlands.
Future Youth Zone Chair Charles Mindenhall said: “This is fantastic news for the young people of Barking and Dagenham; the borough as a whole; and for London too. Youth Zones are remarkable places that change lives, offering young people a safe and inspiring place to spend their leisure time. So much hard work has gone towards getting us to this incredible milestone and everybody is extremely excited to see building work commence.”
Barking and Dagenham Council Leader Darren Rodwell said: “This is welcome news for the borough and most especially our young people. We have listened to the residents who have asked for something for young people to do and most importantly involved residents and the young people themselves in coming up with the concept and the name. Future will give our young people a place to meet friends, learn new things and be safe.”
The Youth Zone will cost £6million to build, with Barking and Dagenham Council funding half of that. The Jack Petchey Foundation has contributed £1.5million as has The Queen’s Trust, which is also supplying £200,000 towards the annual £1million revenue costs. OnSide is committed to raising the remainder of the running costs through private sector philanthropy, local business support and other funders.
Nicola Brentnall MVO, Director of the Queen’s Trust, said: “The Future Youth Zone will bring together fantastic facilities in sports, music, dance, employability support and more for the young people of the great Borough of Barking and Dagenham. We are delighted consent has been granted and that we are another step closer to lift-off.”
Sir Jack Petchey said: “I have a particular interest in the East End – I actually used to live where the new OnSide club will be! This is a great opportunity to ensure that young people are engaged in positive activities that raise their aspirations and enable them to achieve in life.”