A planning application has been submitted for upgrade work at Erith’s Riverside Gardens.
The plans states a number of improvements including:
• the provision of a new accessible route between the gardens and Thames Path and demolition of existing non-compliant ramp
• a new playground in the Northwest and outdoor fitness opportunities elsewhere in the gardens
• reconfiguration of ground levels and re-setting of entrances to make the entire gardens more accessible, connected and usable for all visitors
• comprehensive new tree and soft planting strategy to increase biodiversity and improve sustainable drainage on site
• new seating provision to enable views across the River Thames and back through the gardens from across the site.
The project is seeing £1.6m from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund.
Funding was awarded in 2019. The application states that: “the bid covers the refurbishment of Riverside Gardens and re-purposing of units 66 and 68 Pier Road, which have stood empty for years. Plans include a family friendly café, provision of a professional training kitchen for hire for local food businesses and cooking sessions for local families.”
Much of the gardens will be taken up with an extensive lawn area with playspace to the west.
A Thames-side area will have picnic benches and fitness equipment.
Plans state “a new accessible pedestrian link between Erith Riverside Gardens and the Thames Path is proposed as part of a comprehensive strategy to re-link garden visitors with the river”.
The site of Riverside Gardens was created on the site of a former mill in the 1940s.
“They were extended twenty years later following a parcel of land being gifted by coal merchants William Cory & Sons. This philanthropic gesture is marked through the naming of the William Cory Promenade which runs along the Thames shore-front.”
An adjacent project will see Erith High Street will in future become two-way traffic under a separate project.
Green space lost nearby
Bexley Council last year agreed to build over a public park to the west in Erith and despite using their BexleyCo company to do so, decided to include zero affordable homes.
While Riverside Gardens work is welcome, ever increasing density of housing to the west ensures losing that green space is far from compensated by work to Riverside Gardens.
This site takes a pragmatic approach to building new housing. Sometimes people have opposed much needed housing even if it’s truly social housing and in areas with plentiful greenery in the immediate vicinity.
That often appears to come from people privileged enough to have a stable home happy to deny others in often quite awful temporary or emergency housing – often miles from family, friends, existing schools and employment.
It also neglects to consider that a lack of social housing is costing taxpayers and local authorities millions in payments for overnight and temporary housing.
The Erith park plan from BexleyCo was different. Considering the density of housing in that area, green space and areas for children to play was needed, and in addition BexleyCo declined to include even a single affordable home.
With that in mind, as welcome as investment in Erith Riverside Gardens now is, it doesn’t make up for losing that crucial piece of green space a few hundred metres to the west.