Troubled Erith estate transformed into showcase development with zero burglaries
PUBLISHED: 09:55 09 January 2019
A former council estate which was blighted by social problems and crime for 40 years, has undergone a major regeneration with police crime prevention techniques built into its 588 new homes from the outset.
The 1970s Larner Road Estate in Erith was widely known as a troubled estate and it presented huge challenges for police. Calls about crime often required a two-car response, a direct reflection of the level of crime and disorder on the estate.
Over the past five years, Larner Road has been transformed into Erith Park as part of a project by the UK housing group Orbit and Wates Residential.
The estate’s eight tower blocks have come down and been replaced by a low to medium rise development of apartments and houses for affordable rent, shared ownership and market sale, built into traditional street patterns.
The Metropolitan Police have reported no burglaries, drugs-related offences, weapons, robberies or personal thefts within the boundary of Erith Park over the past 12 months. Despite the high density of the housing on Erith Park, it now has 80per cent less crime compared to the rest of the ward.
Key to this policing success has been the ongoing work of police officers specially trained by Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative. Known as Designing Out Crime Officers, they work with architects, developers and local authority planners to design out crime at the planning stage – long before construction begins.
SBD measures improve the physical security of buildings with robust doors, windows and locks that meet SBD standards as well as crime prevention techniques designed into the surrounding layout and landscaping. These techniques include increasing natural surveillance so strangers can be seen clearly and limiting cut-throughs and alleyways to avoid potential hiding places and escape routes.
Sgt Matt Coe said: “Designing out crime on the estate has not only reduced crime but also improved the outlook for people who live here. It’s a place where people are choosing to live. Whereas before, it had a poor reputation and was poorly regarded.”
Built in two phases, construction on the £120million project started in March 2013 and finished in December 2018.