The newly designed Ripple Greenway linear park opened on Thursday 24 June 2021. The 1.3km park provides a beautiful new walking and cycling route for thousands of local people and a much needed green space for residents. It links the existing community with Barking town centre and the fast-growing Barking Riverside area.
A new Riverside School campus and Barking Riverside Overground Station will also be opened in 2022.
The Ripple Greenway now has natural “Play on the Way” features: wooden climbing logs; mini wooden bridges and a group swing.
These are designed for children to have fun on their journey to school or when they are in the park.
There is an exercise equipment trail for anyone wanting to keep fit as well as picnic tables and benches.
The smooth tarmac path is lined with oak benches which makes it easier to walk, wheel and cycle to work, school or just for fun.
Sustrans worked closely with Trees for Cities and local resident volunteers to plant hundreds of new trees, spring bulbs and hedgerow along with the installation of bird and bat boxes.
Art and poetry in the park
The Lost Words was co-created by Robert Macfarlane and the artist Jackie Morris.
Works include Acorn, Oak, Bramble, Dandelion, Kingfisher and Heron, which invite people to reconnect with local plants and wildlife.
Hallett has responded to the poem with a large-scale commission, Tree Rings, which can be seen on the site.
Macfarlane has written a new poem for the Ripple Greenway, Tree Song, which describes the trees planted in the park.
Residents involved in the design
Local residents’ groups have been central to the design process which has given new life to this previously underused area that was overgrown and not easily accessible.
Sustrans undertook extensive consultation and ran collaborative design workshops with residents.
This meant that people traditionally under-represented in consultations had substantial input to the final design of the linear park.
Sustrans worked in partnership with walking charity Living Streets, to undertake audits with Barking and Dagenham Disability Access Group and walking audits with residents, school children and their families.
The following changes were popular among residents:
- removal of spiked metal fencing
- introduction of a smooth tarmac path to make it easier to walk, wheel and cycle
- additional new oak benches
- building natural play features for children to play on the way
- lighting for personal safety which is sensitive to local wildlife
- new artwork commissions
- planting hundreds of new trees and bulbs.
This ambitious transformation of the Ripple Greenway was made possible with £440,000 from the Mayor of London’s Capital Green Grant and £350,000 provided by Barking and Dagenham regeneration experts Be First.
Access to green spaces
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said:
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to green space for the health and wellbeing of Londoners.
"As Mayor, I am focused on creating more green spaces, delivering a green recovery and tackling the climate emergency.
"The Ripple Greenway project in Barking is a great example of what a well-designed, good quality greenspace can do for local communities, which is why I was delighted to support it with funding from my Green Capital grants.
"I will continue to work with boroughs and other landowners to ensure all Londoners have access to quality green spaces.”
A collaborative design
London Sustrans Director James Austin said:
“It’s been really great collaborating with community groups, the GLA, Be First, Trees for Cities, Barking and Dagenham Access groups and others to combine residents’ vision and our expertise in the collaborative design to transform this underused green space.
“The pandemic has shone a light on inequality in many communities.
"Access to good quality public green space near home is not always available to people in more deprived areas.
"We know that access to green space is important for both the physical and mental health of all Londoners.
“There are lots of underused and neglected green spaces.
"And as our track record shows, we are ideally placed to deliver more projects like the Ripple Greenway.”
An accessible art trail
Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Public Realm at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham said:
“I’m delighted to see that residents have designed such a beautiful, accessible art-trail, with play on the way, on this increasingly important green artery which connects the growing communities at Barking and Barking Riverside.
"I commend everyone involved for making it such a success.”
Dr Wesley Scott from Barking and Dagenham Access Group said:
“I’m always delighted but sceptical when I’m asked to take part in collaborative design work.
"Many organisations claim they are doing collaborative design, but in reality, they want you to rubber stamp their work.
“Working with Sustrans was a delight. We were involved from the beginning. We were asked to visit the site which was unwelcoming.
"However, working with Sustrans’ expertise, and input from people with disabilities, local residents and me, we have created a green space which the residents of Ripple and Thames View can be proud of.
"It is my sincere hope it will provide an oasis of calm but also be a legacy for future generations.”