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Elm Park

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A ‘wonder-town of homes’, according to its developers, situated on the south-west side of Hornchurch. With financial support from the Halifax building society, Liverpool-based Richard Costain and Sons began building here in 1934, partly on the site of Elm Park farm. It is claimed that the layout was influenced by the garden city movement, but this is hard to detect. Costain part-funded the building of Elm Park’s District Line station in 1935, after 500 homes had already been completed. It was the last station to open on the line. A 1937 advertisement promised “space to breathe the clear air of open Essex. Compare these wide, clean avenues with the narrow, dust-laden streets in which many families unnecessarily remain when they could so easily live healthier, fuller lives at Elm Park.” By the outbreak of war the estate was three-quarters complete. When hostilities ceased the council took on the remaining phase of development, but a planned cinema was never built. More shops were added in the 1950s, and later still came further housebuilding to the south, on part of the former Hornchurch airfield. Future developments in Elm Park may include higher density housing, but the residents’ association has expressed reservations about such proposals, preferring the neighbourhood to retain its suburban character. There are some problems of neglect, and with anti-social behaviour – particularly after dark. “Between daytime and the evenings, Elm Park is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” one resident has commented.

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Elm Park is one of the smallest of Havering's town centres, with a declining number of proper shops

Elm Park is a predominantly white area, with just a few residents from ethnic minorities. At Dunningford and Benhurst primary schools only one per cent of pupils speak a language other than English at home. However, recent ward elections have seen a consistently strong showing by the candidate from Third Way, an obscure neo-fascist party with an emphasis on racial separation.

Postcode area: Hornchurch, RM12
Population: 12,048
Station: District Line (Zone 6)

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