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Development on the Riverside Gardens, Erith

Volume 532: debated on Monday 5 September 2011

The Petition of residents of the London Borough of Bexley,

Declares that the petitioners oppose Bexley Council’s Erith Gateway plan to allow for blocks of flats to be built on part of the Riverside Gardens in Erith; that the Riverside Gardens were gifted to the people of Erith by the former coal company William Cory and Son for use by the local community; and that the Riverside Gardens should be designated a Town Green and protected as an open green space.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to allow for greater protection for green areas of particular importance to local communities in the Localism Bill, as outlined in his Department’s plan 2011-2015.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Teresa Pearce, Official Report, 13 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 426-27.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 17 August 2011:

The Government are committed to passing power and freedoms to local communities and opening up greater opportunities for them to influence what happens in the neighbourhoods where they live. On 25 July, the Department for Communities and Local Government published for consultation a new, simpler framework for the planning system. The new National Planning Policy Framework streamlines planning policy into an easy to understand set of policies that enable local communities in producing their own plans to reflect their distinctive needs and priorities. The draft Framework takes forward the Government’s commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper to allow communities to earmark important local green spaces for special protection.

The Government want to avoid the rigid rules that apply to statutory designations. They believe that local people know best the local green spaces that are special to them and are therefore proposing that local communities should be able to use their local and neighbourhood plans to designate these areas. As local people plan for the sustainable development needed in their communities, they will be able to use the new powers in the draft framework to give special protection to green areas that have a particular local significance. This local significance could be because of the green area’s beauty, historic importance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of its wildlife.

The Government are proposing that the new Local Green Space designation should afford strong protection, because of the importance of green spaces to the health and happiness of local communities. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space will therefore be expected to be consistent with policy for Green Belts. This means that by designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances.

The Government are keen to hear views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework and the proposed Local Green Space designation. The draft framework is available via the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website: