Initial Designs and the Four Themes

We recently published the initial designs for the Riverside Gardens and asked local people for their views. You can see more information about the designs themselves here and find out how the designs respond to the themes from the first stage of consultation below.

The four main themes that local people said the designs for the Gardens should address during our consultation are:

  • Connect to the River
  • Celebrate Erith’s rich heritage
  • Provide new opportunities for play
  • Create a destination

Find out more about how the initial designs incorporate these themes here.

Creating a destination and clear identity

Local people told us that the park lacks attractive features that encourage them to visit and spend time there. People told us that they spend relatively little time in the gardens and mostly just pass through.

In the new design we’ve provided better connections into and through the gardens, places to see and interact with the river, areas for activities such as fitness equipment, a playground, a climbing wall and a large lawn area. With these improvements we hope more people will venture in and spend time in the park.

Connecting the park to the river

Nearly everyone we spoke to said that the river is one of the most important features of the park and that the current layout makes it hard to see, enjoy and access the river walkway.

We have maximised the views of the river by creating an upper promenade, the promenade will allow for improved views over the flood defence wall with seating opportunities. The design allows for greater access to the river walk with lounging steps and a new gently graded ramp between upper promenade and river walk.

Diagram showing current connections to the river and proposed new

Improving play opportunities

Currently there are no opportunities for play in the gardens, play was one of local people’s top priorities to include in a newly designed Riverside Gardens.

The designs include a new play area which will cater for children of different ages with playable features. Along the upper promenade there is playful fitness equipment attractive to all ages and along the lower boulevard there are playable bridges and balancing features crossing the sunken planted area parallel to the High Street.

Celebrating Erith’s heritage

At every event and activity we held in the first stage of engagement, people told us interesting stories and facts about the Gardens’ history, it is clearly something people valued and we hope to both preserve existing heritage features and celebrate the park’s heritage in new and interesting ways.

We’ve brought the park’s heritage into the design through the railway wharf themed playground taking inspiration from the former wharf that stood on part of the site. In addition to this design details in the climbing wall and rain gardens are inspired by the flourmill which stood where the Gardens are now. Existing signage and the flag pole will find a new home in the renovated Gardens. Through this stage of consultation and engagement we are looking for ideas for interactive, informative and playful ways to explore and represent the history in the Gardens.

Image showing Erith in 1923 including the railway wharf and the Cannon and Gaze Flour Mill on what is now the Riverside Gardens


In addition to the four main themes we had two priorities to consider when developing the design. Those were maintenance and mobility and access:


Future maintenance of the new Gardens is something that has been a priority for us from the start and local people raised it at engagement events too. Throughout the process we have worked with colleagues in the Parks and Open Spaces team to ensure what is designed is maintainable. Here are some images  showing example of low maintenance, climate appropriate planting being considered for the Gardens:

Access & Mobility

An important aim of this project is to make the Gardens accessible for everyone. This design creates better connections between the Gardens and the Thames walkway, between Erith High Street and the Gardens and fully accessible places for everyone to sit and overlook the Thames. There are multiple entrances into the gardens, larger entrances in the west and east and a number of smaller, in some cases playable entrances from the High Street and the Thames walkway. Pathways with the garden are laid out to offer opportunities for short circular walks with gentle gradients.

Diagram showing the change in usable space in the Gardens comparing the designs to the current layout

Survey now closed

Thank you to everyone who took part and shared their views in the online survey.  The survey is now closed and we will be reviewing the responses and sharing the feedback gathered with the architects in the next stage of the project.

If you missed the survey but would still like to share your views on the designs you can email the Regeneration team at

This won’t be your final chance to have an input into the designs follow us on twitter @GreaterErith or sign up to our regular Erith e-newsletters keep up to date with the project.

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