Erith Development Framework and Regeneration Strategy

Client: London Development Agency and LB Bexley.
Contract Value: N/A
Completed: May 2006

Our interest, research and experience in urban issues through teaching and practice have led to our involvement in strategic planning for a number of town centres within east London. We are particularly concerned with dense urban environments, integration of diverse land uses and how loose-fit strategies can best serve to enhance the identity of a place and the evolution of an area over a period of time. Recently our focus has been concerned with the relationship of industry to contemporary town structures. We were commissioned in 2004 by the London Development Agency and the GLA as urban designers for an area framework for Erith, an industrial riverside town within Thames Gateway and the London Borough of Bexley.

In collaboration with specialist planning consultants URS, we carried out an in-depth analysis of the existing urban topography, built fabric, history, demographics, transport infrastructure and land-use in Erith from which strategic proposals developed to propose a way in which the town can grow in a coherent way over the next 15 to 20 years. Central to this has been the requirement to meet and exceed the London Plan targets for density and numbers of residences within the area in a way which creates a sustainable, integrated and coherent town, enhancing rather than eroding its latent character and identity.

The issue of identity is of particular relevance to Erith and its relationship to the river. Despite a history of reliance and wealth born from river trade and industry, Erith has lost its link to the river which we have sought to re-find within a framework of change appropriate to its future in the 21st century.

principles of approach

  • That density and diversity create more vibrant and sustainable urban environments both in the shorter and longer term. The strategy should promote and not restrict further development, density and diversity over time.
  • Integration of diverse activities helps to promote and sustain economic and social-well being. The framework promotes expansion and integration of activities rather than reduction and displacement.
  • Create conditions through which Erith can transform over time during and beyond the immediate 10-15 years. The framework includes consideration of regeneration in the longer term, what could Erith be like in 10, 20, 50 or 100 years? A sustainable approach is one which provides a coherent framework for immediate development but is also flexible enough to allow changes to take place in response to market conditions, local and wider influences.
  • To support and develop a strong identity for Erith which takes on board recent changes. At the same time it reinforces the latent character and identity of its historic past.