I have written about Erith Riverside Gardens before: about how I helped the local community change the Local Authority’s plans for building on part of the gardens, and to generally improve the rest of the Area Action Plan in terms of urban design and place making.
On the back of our success, in stopping the development of a block of appartments (the re-branding has worked – I now feel uncomfortable saying ‘flats’), the community has taken over the planting of part of the gardens. This is carried out by volunteers, coordinated by Friends of Riverside Gardens Erith, with some financial support from The Cory Environmental Trust.
I was with some of the volunteers yesterday, planting out some of the summer bedding. Sometimes a consultant just has to get stuck in and get their hands dirty.
Opposite the gardens a new college is being built which is due to open this September. Interestingly, this didn’t feature in the Area Action Plan, but the community welcomed it and hope that the students will make full use of the adjacent gardens. This shows the importance of flexibility in any masterplans and planning documents – relocation of the college was not predicted by the Planners nor the college authorities when the AAP was drawn up.
I am still hopeful that this area between the new college and the gardens will become, as I have suggested, a shared space and thus greatly improve the pubic realm. Watch this space.