About Greater Erith

Nestled on the banks of the river Thames, Erith is home to a community of makers and traders. It’s a place where ideas and inspiration flow, where poetry rhymes meet sailing lines.

Erith is where Henry VIII built his naval dockyards and fitted out his famous warship. It’s where the first motorcycle was built and where our high-class cables were made and taken to Sydney, Chicago, and South Africa.

Erith is also where Victorians came to vacation: riverside resorts and pleasure gardens banking on the creativity and tranquillity of the Thames.

Erith keeps that spirit of creativity today.

Erith is for the pathfinders and the promenade lovers; for cyclists and walkers and sculptors and business owners. For those who harbour community and togetherness. For the dreamers and the doers and the wayfarers.

Erith is also for visitors to rest from the city without leaving the city. For the bustle of the borough to breathe and for families to watch tall ships sail by. For locals to enjoy the scenery and food by the waterfront.

Erith is the place of big skies and wide-open river views.

Erith – Bexley by the Thames.

The Greater Erith Regeneration Programme

The Greater Erith programme is harnessing the entrepreneurial and creative spirit in the town to bring opportunities for regeneration and growth. The programme is dedicated to creating a flourishing riverside community by rejuvenating existing spaces, enabling new developments, nurturing innovation in the burgeoning maker movement and enhancing all the things that make Erith great.

Historical Development

Erith has a long and rich history owing to its prominent position on the river front. This section looks at the changing face of Erith over the years.

Corys Wharf Erith - 1956

Erith is an ancient settlement, dating at least back to the medieval period. The town has always been intimately associated with the Thames; the first significant instance of this was when Henry VIII opened a naval dockyard there in the 16th century, on the site of the current Riverside Gardens.

Until the mid 19th century, Erith was a popular small port and anchorage, often a stopping off point for ships bound for the Port of London to discharge some of their cargo. In the 19th century, this commercial activity was complemented by leisure and recreational uses, with a large ‘pleasure garden’ built along the river where Morrisons now stands. Erith had a reputation as a resort and daytrip destination, with pubs and hotels lining the riverbank.

The pleasure gardens were short lived and Erith’s strategic location on the Thames and with existing railway infrastructure made it an ideal place for industrial development. One of the earliest industrial businesses was the Erith Iron Works at Anchor Bay, opening in 1864, but soon a large number of heavy industrial uses came into being, accompanied by an extensive network of goods railways connected to the mainline. Erith Pier, dates from this time. It was built as an industrial railway pier, allowing goods trains direct access to anchored ships.

In the 1960s, the town was extensively redeveloped following Modernist town planning ideas, including pedestrian/traffic separation, multilevel commercial environments and residential tower blocks. This redevelopment, which had been partly prompted by wartime bomb damage, dramatically altered the layout of the town, and many crucial routes were radically altered: notably the High Street became largely a service road for the new shopping centre. The town’s public spaces were also fundamentally altered by the construction of flood defences, which serve a crucial purpose in protecting the area from flooding but which sever much of the town from a connection to the river. Various buildings and spaces survived this transformation, notably the town’s two Churches.

BLSAC Erith

Photos courtesy of the Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre.

FAQs

  • What is the Greater Erith Programme?

    The Council has recently been awarded significant funding for Erith, which will be used to make much needed improvements to improve the quality of the public areas, make the town centre more pedestrian and cyclist friendly and assist with bringing high quality new housing and shops and activity to the town centre.

  • How long will the programme last?

    The Erith programme is expected to be delivered over the next 10 years. Elements such as activities around the town centre, public realm works and restoration works at the Carnegie Building will be happen in the first 5 years. The development of new housing, shops and leisure facilities will begin in a second phase from years 5-10. The programme will create the right conditions for further development and investment beyond this.

  • What changes will we see in the town centre?

    The Council is working hard to attract a number of different retailers and leisure providers to Erith. We hope the current investment will help make Erith a more attractive destination for the commercial sector and make it a more appealing and functional town centre for residents and visitors.

  • Can the money be spent elsewhere in the area?

    The funding the Council has secured is specifically for this programme. There is not an option to use this funding for any alternative causes within the area.

  • Will the public get a chance to provide their views?

    The aspirations and comments of local people, community groups and businesses will help shape future activities in the town and design work. There have been a number of opportunities to engage with the programme since it began and there will be further opportunities to give the Council your views.

  • How is the council delivering the project?

    The Council’s project team is working with a number of external professionals who have expertise in design, engineering, consultation and development with a proven track record of working on similar successful schemes across London and the wider UK.

  • Will the scheme include provision for pedestrians and cyclists?

    Improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists is a key objective and will be carefully considered alongside the needs of all users.

  • Will the Council be considering the needs of wheelchair users, the visually impaired and people using prams?

    We will be actively consulting with these groups to make sure we understand their concerns and issues.

  • What happens to my feedback once it is received?

    Any comments received, either through informal correspondence or as part of the public events, will be considered by the Council and programme team. Where appropriate, the Council will refine the proposed activities and designs in response to the feedback.

  • If I can’t make any of the events can I send my comments to you?

    Yes comments can be sent to [email protected]

  • What happened to the previous Erith Western Gateway regeneration scheme?

    Due to the global economic crisis, the Council’s development partner, Crest Nicholson, had to pull out of the scheme. That meant that the likelihood of delivering the programme of change that we had consulted people on was very small and so we decided to delay work on that. Instead, focus was put on some smaller and more deliverable schemes, which has resulted in the new Bexley College campus opening and the former Erith Swimming Baths  housing scheme.

  • What is happening on the former Riverside Baths site?

    London & Quadrant (L&Q) housing association is developing over 70 new homes on the site of the former Swimming Baths, overlooking the River Thames.

    The site will provide apartments and mews houses for sale and to rent, and flexible retail/commercial space, conveniently located for the town centre, the Riverside Gardens and public transport.

    Contact L&Q (www.lqgroup.org.uk) for more information

  • When is work starting at Erith Quarry?

    London and Quadrant (L&Q) and Anderson Group are developing the former quarry site in Erith to provide new homes, including townhouses and apartments.

    The site will also provide a new state-of-the-art primary school and public spaces.

    The developers phase 1 of the works are already underway. It is estimated that the primary school will be completed by September 2018.

    Visit www.thequarryerith.co.uk for more information.

  • What is happening with the Council’s Growth Strategy?

    The Council published the Bexley Growth Strategy in January 2018.  The strategy aims to guide the delivery of new, high quality homes and jobs in the borough. It also considers how we can secure benefits to transport connectivity, economic prosperity and provide opportunities for people to increase their skills.

    Find out more about the Growth Strategy on the London Borough of Bexley’s Growth Strategy web pages.

  • Is Crossrail coming to Erith?

    With Crossrail coming to Abbey Wood in 2018, the borough will gain a valuable new transport link that the Council is keen to see extended. We are working with a range of partners to develop the case for Crossrail 1 to be extended from Abbey Wood to to Gravesend (C2G) to support growth and regeneration throughout the corridor.

  • Are there any plans to introduce step free access at Erith station?

    The significant changes in level around Erith station mean that the London-bound platform 1 can only be accessed via the pedestrian bridge from platform 2. As a result, wheelchair users and people with pushchairs travelling towards London are unable to get to platform 1 and must either use the circular weekday route trains or travel to Dartford and use the lifts there. The Council is therefore keen to secure an “accessible route” from the station entrance to platform 1.

    Network Rail manages and controls all projects and improvements on the railway through a process called Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP). Current funding is allocated up to 2019. To support the Council’s aspiration, consultants were commissioned to carry out an Option Selection Process, which forms part of the GRIP process. This will enable the Council to lobby Network Rail in the future or to consider other funding options.

  • Are you planning to do any work to redevelop Riverside Gardens?

    No, retaining the open space at Riverside Gardens remains a key priority for the Council.

  • What is happening to the Carnegie Building?

    The Carnegie Library building will partially reopen in Autumn 2018 as a cafe, exhibition and arts space. Run by local arts organisation The Exchange, the Carnegie will host a number of cultural and heritage programmes and exhibitions.

    Find out more about the plans for the building on The Exchange’s website.

  • What is happening to the vacant units at Parkspring Court?

    A gym has now opened in one of the units and the Council is exploring opportunities for filling the other vacant units.

  • What is being done about the traffic?

    The Council is currently working with Transport for London (TfL) to develop a scheme for Erith which will improve movement in the town centre for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. During the preparation stages, we will be talking to the community to get their views.