Plans to redevelop a Hornchurch car park into family housing have been submitted.

Mercury Land Holdings Ltd, owned entirely by Havering Council, has put forward proposals to transform Keswick Avenue in Hornchurch into six homes. 

If approved, the 42-space car park will be turned into six three-bedroom homes, with private, south-facing gardens and room for one car per house, as well as cycling spaces and bins. 

In its application, the applicants argue it would constitute a “more sustainable” use of the brownfield site, which is “surplus” to the council’s needs, while also meeting the demand for “much-needed” housing. 

One nearby resident previously raised concerns over the loss of the car park, saying it could “undermine the viability” of the area’s shopping centres. 

However, the council pointed to nearby car parks – such as Billet Lane and Fentiman Way – as alternatives and said its active transport strategy, which encourages the use of public services, would also negate the impact.  

In a bid to plug its budget gap of £32.5million – and ease the pressure of a recent £54m loan from central government – Havering outlined plans to sell six sites, including four car parks, earlier this month. 

The scheme is part of the cash-strapped authority’s wider ‘capital strategy,’ which will involve selling various public assets between 2023 and 2028.  

The sale of all six sites, primarily located in Hornchurch and Romford, was said to net the council £8.69m

Despite the loss of £190,000 in annual revenue, council officials were confident a housing scheme would balance out. 

Redevelopment of the land is expected to take between two and three years.

If planning permission cannot be secured, then the council would be obliged to buy the land back from Mercury Land Holdings at the original price and reimburse it for any losses.

Alongside Keswick Avenue, Como Street and Angel Way car parks in Romford and Dorrington Gardens in Hornchurch have been earmarked for disposal and redevelopment.

Until planning permission is secured, the council will rent the sites back from Mercury Land Holdings at a very low, or “peppercorn,” rate.

Last August, the Recorder reported that Mercury Land Holdings submitted an application to the council requesting a “screening opinion” on whether an environmental impact assessment was needed in respect of a “comprehensive redevelopment" of the Como Street site.

The submission related to a “residential-led scheme of circa 170 dwellings and commercial space” but no further application has been made.