BY KIT HEREN and LACHLAN LEEMING
Local Democracy Correspondent
Activists fear a new development being pushed by town hall chiefs will result in the destruction of an area’s last remaining green spaces.
Bexley council has submitted plans through its property arm, BexleyCo, to build 30 residential homes at the junction of Macarthur Close and West Street in Erith.
The council said the part four-storey, part five-storey block would be an ideal use of an “under-used” site, although the proposal has already infuriated local groups.
Community group the Erith Think Tank is among those opposing the project, and has launched a campaign to “save the green space”.
Their main concern is the potential loss of what they described as a “key” park area for Erith.
They said: “This would mean the loss of key green space in Erith. Aside from the Riverside Gardens there is very little open green space in Erith for communities to enjoy.
“It was a criticism of the council’s growth strategy, by the Greater London Authority, that not enough provision for green space was allowed for in its regeneration plans. It is too costly to lose another Erith asset.”
The proposal also doesn’t include any affordable housing, with units to be leased or sold at market value after initial studies showed it wouldn’t be “financially viable”.
“This is due to the high construction costs associated with providing a high quality residential development on a constrained site,” the plans state.
Johnny Batten, a spokesperson for Erith Think Tank, said: “There are residents who just didn’t know that there was going to be building on the park. It’s like the council don’t want people to know.
“We’re aware we need more housing in London. We’re not against more development. We just think that these plans need to be communicated more effectively.”
Pascale, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Bexley who declined to provide her surname, commented: “We wanted to plant this tree because it’s often said that Kent is the garden of England – but it certainly doesn’t feel much like a garden from my road.
BexleyCo would instead make a commuted sum contribution of £100,000 in lieu of on-site provision.
In a planning statement, BexleyCo said its intention is to create “a simple, elegant building that addresses the corner and enhances the streetscene.”
The plans state that the storey heights take “direct reference” to the nearby Chichester Wharf buildings, which extend up to seven storeys.