In March 2007 Natural England and Design for London provided funding for two studies focusing on improving public access and enhancing the flow and wildlife habitats of the River Shuttle.
Parish Wood Park project
The London Borough of Bexley has been successful in securing a series of grants to allow major improvements to this site over the coming years.
Parish Wood Park in Blackfen is an area of green open space and woodland with the River Shuttle running through it. The name presumably refers to the old parish boundary.
The park forms a natural link between the north-east of Avery Hill Park and the wider River Shuttle corridor. It was once all wooded.
Underfoot the park is often damp, so alders and other wet loving trees and plants grow well and the trees along the bank of the river are mainly crack willows, so called because of the brittleness of their twigs. This is a native species which has been present since the Ice Age.
The River Shuttle runs behind Berwick Crescent, and Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School in Holbeach Gardens. It is a small tributary of the River Cray and joins the Cray at Hall Place near Bexley.
The most important issue that needed to be resolved if further improvements to the site were to be achieved, was the poor accessibility into the site for residents living to the south and east of Parish Wood.
The London Borough of Bexley secured £400,000 towards the Parish Wood Park project from the Mayor's Help A London Park Scheme in March 2009.
The aim of the project is not only to deliver a more attractive open space that is better for wildlife but one that engages local people and becomes a real local asset.
Rubbish, graffiti and fly-tipping will make an area feel unloved and degraded very quickly.