Sunday, June 20, 2021

£18 million.

Several local sources, including the Blog "From the Murky Depths" - which specialises in property development news in the borough,  have reported that the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre is now up for sale for £18 million. It is mooted in the accompanying promotional documentation that the shopping centre is ripe for demolition and redevelopment - the upper of the two images - taken by me on Tuesday afternoon - above shows the view from the Bexley Road bridge looking Eastwards towards Erith Town Centre. The lower of the two images shows an architect's impression of what the area could look like after redevelopment. I note that in addition to the replacement of the existing shopping centre, Electricity House is shown to be gone, and a couple of  blocks of flats in its place. I have written extensively in the past abut Electricity House, and how its days are numbered; it would appear that the first hard evidence of this has now been published - we now have a "smoking gun". The accompanying promotional text is quite instructive - and has a couple of absolute howlers, as you will see. The Shopping Centre is described thus - please excuse the estate agent speak:- "Erith Riverside Shopping Centre in Bexley in South East London has come to market at a guide price of £18m with potential for significant mixed-use repurposing. Comprising a total of 193,145 sq ft of retail and leisure, Erith Riverside is a convenience and community-led shopping centre in the heart of the town centre and is the principal part of the retail offer. The property comprises retail accommodation which forms part of the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. The property provides for over 15 retailers and is anchored by Matalan and Wilkinson. The property is surrounded by Bexley Road, Cross Street, Erith High Street, Pier Road and Colebrook Street. The shopping centre is located on Pier Road, a short commute from Dagenham Heathway Underground (What! Someone looked online and saw that the distance as the crow flies between Dagenham Heathway Underground Station and Erith was quite close, but did not realise the River Thames was in the way - very poor, shoddy research), and within close proximity to Erith Railway Station. There is an accompanying promotional brochure, which is available to download as a PDF by clicking here. The estate agents write- "London Borough of Bexley is one of a small number of London Boroughs which does not have its own housing stock, emphasising the need for the Council to work with the private sector to deliver housing requirements. The 2017 Growth Strategy targets meeting the need for new homes and jobs alongside improved transport connectivity to encourage economic development. Erith’s residential potential is underpinned by its strategic location just outside Central London, its proximity to the national motorway network and strong population growth forecast. Average house prices in the London Borough of Bexley stood at £358,000 as at Q2 2020, 34% above the Promis average of £267,800 and showing an increase of 40% over the past 5 years. However, house prices in Bexley remain relatively affordable in comparison to other London boroughs. This, coupled with the fast growing population, creates a dynamic for further price growth. A 2020 assessment of housing supply showed requirement for 3,425 dwellings over the next 5 years. A number of recent developments have delivered a mixture of houses and apartments. As affordability is stretched, buyers are looking further from Central London to capitalise on the launch of Crossrail at nearby Abbey Wood. The below selection of delivered and pipeline schemes demonstrate the demand for residential dwellings. In the London Borough of Bexley there are 5,673 units in planning*, in addition to 1,568 units for sale or currently under construction. Erith Riverside is ideally positioned to be the most important development in Erith". Aside from the previously mentioned fundamental error regarding Dagenham Heathway Underground Station, other errors can be found on the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre page on the Estate Agents website, which you can see by clicking here. Under the heading of "Leisure" it mentions three locations; I quote:- "Bird Hide - 1 min walk - 0.05 miles. Riverside Gardens - 3 min walk - 0.17 miles. Nordenfeldt Gardens - 9 min walk - 0.44 miles". Of these three locations, only one of them exists in reality - the Riverside Gardens. Nordenfeldt Gardens does not exist at all, and I surmise that "Bird Hide" probably refers to a bird watching hide located on the bird sanctuary in Rainham, Essex, on the other side of the River Thames. Another example of some dozy and inexperienced estate agent using Google to search for nearby locations, neglecting the fact that the Google algorithm does not take into account physical barriers such as rivers, motorways or railway lines - it purely calculates "as the crow flies" - an elementary and slapdash error. It also gives a strong indication that the authors of the brochure are unfamiliar with the local area. The brochure goes on to say:- "The area of the town centre to the west of Cross Street, known as “Pier Road West”, falls within the Erith Western Gateway Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) (adopted January 2012). The SPD states that the Erith Western Gateway offers significant opportunity with the potential to amalgamate individual sites to enable a comprehensive redevelopment. The site is also proposed for allocation as a housing site within the emerging draft local plan. The London Borough of Bexley has resolved to take all necessary steps to progress the selection of a development partner for the redevelopment of the Pier Road area, and has taken steps to prepare a draft CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order), should it be required. This highlights the Council’s commitment to facilitate the regeneration of Erith town centre". This could be one of the biggest changes to Erith in its recent history; I have already spoken to one resident who would potentially be affected by their property being subject to a compulsory purchase order, and they are pleased the the redevelopment is potentially to go ahead. What do you think? Email me at

Way back in Ocober 2012 I wrote extensively about what I termed “The Erith Stink” - an intermittent foul and sickly smell that had been plaguing Erith and the surrounding areas for the a number of  weeks. After consulting some local environmental experts, I reported that the cause of the foul smell had been solved.  It turned out the smells were coming from ADM Oils, the vegetable oil processing plant In Church Manor Way, Erith (see the photo above - click for a larger view). The processing of various seeds and organic matter into cooking oil produces some pretty horrible smells; it turned out that you need a special licence from the Department of the Environment to carry out the processing at all. ADM have had a special smell filtering and odour mitigation system in operation, In 2012 the system was replaced, and for several weeks during the replacement work, no smell filtering was in place – hence the terrible pong. Now, nine years later the smell seems to be slowly returning. Last Saturday evening I was in the garden at Pewty Acres, as the distinctive, sickly aroma could clearly be detected – albeit not as strongly as when the problem was at its height back in the autumn of 2012. I will be contacting the environmental health team at Bexley Council to find out if they are aware of the return of the stink, and if they have contacted ADM Oils over the  issue. I am sure that nobody in the area would want to see a return to the horrible situation in the past. What do you think? Have you experience of the smell? Do you work at ADM Oils, or know someone that does? Contact me in complete confidence at

As I have written in the past, the proliferation of African restaurants in Erith, Plumstead and Woolwich has been noted, but they seem to restrict their advertising and publicity to within the African community – they don’t seem to make any efforts to encourage other customers to try them out. Back in the early 1960’s a large number of men migrated to the UK from mainly Bangladesh and Pakistan. Initially they opened small cafes to cater for their desire from food from home. Never people to miss the main chance, some of the more entrepreneurial of them realised that they were sitting on a huge, untapped market of British people who were used to a fairly bland diet, and who might well find the novelty and diversity of a foreign cuisine a real attraction – as most definitely turned out to be the case. The food served in what became the high street curry house might not have resembled what you would be served in a respectable family abode in Lahore, as the dishes were tweaked both for the relatively untutored British palate, and were also made easier to make in large quantities with cheaper ingredients. By this clever tailoring of the food to appeal to the British, many curry house owners went on to earn vast fortunes, both from restaurant chains, and the later move into chilled ready meals, tinned curry sauces and a plethora of other “Indian” style comestibles. The market in the UK alone is now worth hundreds of millions of pounds per year. It strikes me that the African restaurants could take a similar approach – tweak the menu to appeal to the Brits (who nowadays are a lot more open to experimentation than back in the 1960’s) and welcome them in – the tills might then start ringing. To be honest, it may be difficult for the independent African food outlets to gain a toe in a more general market, as big business has already seen the gap. You might be wondering what chain already sells African food? Nando’s – it is marketed as “Piri Piri” style food, but it is basically a watered down version of Southern / West African cuisine. For example, what Nando’s call their “Spicy Rice” is called “Jollof Rice” in Nigeria and much of Africa in general. Nando’s has been an astonishing success in the UK – it is one of the fastest growing food brands, and it has an amazingly high brand value and level of recognition. Unlike many fast food outlets, it has fan sites and even has a UK wide website for reviewers.

Pedestrians walking along Bexleyheath Broadway may have no idea that the impressive and rather imposing office building exists at all - it is discreetly hidden away from casual view. The prominent office HQ of the prestigious company is hidden down a little used side road called Banks Lane, next to the Bexleyheath Job Centre and the Thai Bexleyheath restaurant. Not the kind of place you would necessarily expect a widely respected organisation such as Apex Lifts to be based. Apex Lifts have their head office in Bexleyheath, and their manufacturing, repair and training facility in Sidcup, so they are most definitely local. They describe themselves thus:- “Founded by Arthur Jenchner over four decades ago, the Apex vision is to create a positive impact on the lift industry; offering lift maintenance, servicing, manufacturing, modernisation and training services throughout London, Greater London and the South East. Current MD Warren Jenchner continues to lead the company into the future, combining the latest technology with British craftsmanship to construct and maintain the top lifts and escalators in London. With Apex, you’ll receive a customer-tailored, proactive service, 24/7. Our manufacturing and training facilities in Sidcup, South East London, are fully fitted with state-of-the art machinery, so we can manufacture and repair lift parts to the highest degree of tolerance, and ensure excellence and quality assurance in everything we do. We don’t just manufacture and repair lifts – the Apex Training Academy was established in 2011 to train the next generation of highly skilled engineers”. Apex Lifts hold a Royal Warrant from H.M The Queen as Manufacturers and Suppliers of Passenger Lifts. A Royal Warrant of Appointment is a mark of recognition of those who have supplied goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales for at least five years, and who have an ongoing trading arrangement. The Monarch decides who may grant Royal Warrants. These are known as the Grantors: HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. The Royal Warrant is the document that appoints the company in its trading capacity, and is granted to a named individual, known as the Grantee. The Warrant gives the Grantee permission, and responsibility, for the display of the relevant Royal Arms in connection with the business. Today there are around 800 Royal Warrant holders representing a huge cross-section of trade and industry, from individual craftspeople to global multi-nationals. They are united by a commitment to the highest standards of service, quality and excellence. 

There was a serious security situation on Wednesday afternoon at around 3.20 pm. Armed Police Tasered a man who had gone berserk in Erith Town Centre, armed with a piece of wood / possibly a baseball bat. He had been threatening and attacking passers by, and also had attacked the window shutters of the (now closed) Erith Police Office. He was screaming and shouting and acting very violently - I suspect he was either seriously mentally ill, on drugs, or possibly both. Initially local cops tried to restrain him with their personal batons. This was unsuccessful, and an armed unit was quickly on the scene. Within seconds a female officer from the armed response team Tasered the perpetrator, and he went down like a sack of spuds. He was then taken away under arrest. I took the two photos of the alarming incident above - click on either to see a larger image. 

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association; as previously mentioned, many of the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams are no longer providing weekly reports, so the format of the update is now slightly different. "Bexley Fire Brigade Update. From Jim Morford, Borough Commander for Bexley, London Fire Brigade. Eleven fires were attended by Bexley Borough Fire crews over the last seven days. These were a mix of residential fires, a car fire and external rubbish / grass / shrub land fires. The main cause established for the residential fires was cooking left unattended and careless disposal of cigarettes. It is really important to remember that whilst I write about the fires attended each week haven’t recently caused injury or worse, it only takes a matter of minutes before a fire in a room can become a room on fire. All too often fires across London are causing devastating consequences for families and whilst we aim to get a Fire engine to an incident in 6 minutes with a second attending within 8 minutes ( In Bexley our average 1st attendance time in 20/21 was 5 minutes 35 seconds with a second fire engine in attendance within 7 minutes ) a small smouldering fire can develop to a substantial fire in around 4 minutes. This is why we promote very heavily our community fire safety programme and provide free smoke alarms. I am sure you would have had smoke alarms actuate when cooking with very little smoke. If this happens regularly then chances are the smoke alarm is incorrectly situated, I would urge you to contact us and ask us to visit rather than remove the smoke alarm. If you are going to fit an alarm yourself then please consider the following information. Don't just fit a smoke alarm in your hall and landing – also fit them in any room where a fire can start. For example, any room where you smoke or leave appliances plugged in. Smoke alarms are not suitable for kitchens but heat alarms are. Fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen will give you a warning of an increase in temperature caused by fire but will not be set off by cooking fumes. Some battery or mains alarms can be interlinked, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together, giving you a warning wherever you are in your home. This is particularly important where a person has any issues that may prevent or delay their escape to ensure they are alerted to fire as soon as possible. If you choose to have a mains-powered alarm, make sure it's installed by a qualified electrician. Please remember that cooking and drinking alcohol don’t always mix, so if you are planning to enjoy the European football Championships with a few drinks having a takeaway is a safer option". There are a few ward reports this week, which are listed now. Firstly from Barnehurst ward:- "On Wednesday 9th June at approx. 22.30 hours a 17-year-old boy was beaten up by 5 youths, outside his house in Northumberland Way.  He sustained stab injuries and was taken to Kings College Hospital.  The youths are described as all male, aged between 17 and 18 years of age, 4 were white and one black.  The youths escaped in a silver car before police arrived.  The incident was caught on CCTV and witnessed by neighbours". Belvedere ward:- "Between Monday 14th 16.00 hours and Tuesday 15th June 07.00 hours, there were 3 commercial burglaries in Nuxley Road, Belvedere, and one attempted burglary.  The most recent being Copy Cats Printers at 4:20 am on Tuesday 15th June, by two men wearing grey hoodies and face masks. The suspects smashed front windows or the glass section of the front door to gain entry to the businesses. The police will be conducting crime prevention assessments to inform local shop owners and residents". West Heath ward:-"Last week,  three women were walking their young dogs in West Heath recreation ground.  They became aware of a man watching them and appearing to film them on his mobile phone.  The women felt uncomfortable and as they were heading for the gate, the man approached them.  One of the women put her son and dog in her car.  The other two women walked out of the park and the man followed them.   One woman ran to her house and alerted her partner who confronted the man.  The man said he was just taking his daily exercise and proceeded to follow the third woman.  The woman in the car followed her friend home until she was safe.  The man stood on the corner of Canberra Road for a while before leaving.  The man is described as approx. 5'9", of Asian appearance, medium build.  He wore glasses and had facial stubble.  He was dressed in blue shorts, a white t-shirt with black strips, wore a red cap and sliders on his feet.  The man had no dog with him". 

The end video this week features some aerial footage from a drone flown over Erith Pier recently. Please feel free to Email me with comments or story suggestions to

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