It’s been a busy autumn in Ebbsfleet Garden City, with lots of new neighbours moving in and exciting updates on the progress of Springhead Park Primary School, Ebbsfleet Green Primary School, the bridge linking Springhead Park to Ebbsfleet International Station, and the land acquisition for Ebbsfleet Central.
Our Autumnal Wreath is up!
Our neighbourhood is one that is constantly changing and evolving, which has got me to thinking about exactly what I love so much about living in Ebbsfleet Garden City. What first spurred us to move here was the potential the area had – we knew that things might not be entirely finished then, but there was so much to look forward to. Now we have been here for over a year, it’s been the people and sense of community that has really caused us to feel like we have put roots down and become part of where we live. It isn’t always easy when you first move to an area to feel like you belong, and so I want to share some ways that you can Get Connected and feel part of the community when moving to a new development like the ones in Ebbsfleet Garden City.
I found that the most amazing (and surprising!) way to initially get connected with my future neighbours, before I had even moved to the area, was through social media. This took many different forms, on different channels. I started off looking through Instagram at other people’s home accounts from the same developers that I was considering purchasing with, in order to get inspiration and insight into the types of properties available. I would send polite private messages, or comment on people’s posts asking questions if there was anything I was unsure or concerned about (such as snagging, room sizes, interior finishes etc.). Once we had moved into our home, I set up my own Instagram account, @lydias_layton_life, and as that began to grow, it’s evolved to the point where I now have people messaging me daily asking for my own advice and experiences on the area, developers and buying new-build. Many of these have since moved into the neighbourhood and become my friends! The best way to get a feel for a place is to speak to the people who are currently living there, and there is also something very unifying about the trepidation of buying a new-build house off-plan!
Discussing new-build home options on Instagram
Before we moved in we also joined the Castle Hill and Ebbsfleet Green Facebook Groups, so we felt like we knew what was going on and had a sense of the community before we were physically part of it. I’ve found it to be a wealth of information, and a great place to connect with independent businesses and neighbours. Whether to sell on a piece of unused furniture, lend someone your lawn mower, or get the latest information about fitness clubs or childminders in the area, it’s a platform that I use weekly. Of course, with any form of social media, there are always going to be complaints and disagreements, however I personally chose to just zone that out, or read through it objectively before focusing on all the positivity on the page.
If your development doesn’t have a Facebook Group – start one up yourself! When we first moved in, I started a smaller private one for David Wilson Home residents, so we could share advice and experiences that were specific to our developer and arrange gatherings. At first it was just myself and my husband, but slowly other people found the Page and requested to join. This evolved into a Whatsapp group, where all our immediate neighbours stay connected and can discuss whatever issues arise around our street – or ask if anyone is able to cat-sit that weekend!
One of the many Facebook groups focused on sharing community information
Housing Developer Support
If you are lucky, your housing developer will be proactive with helping new residents get integrated into the community. David Wilson Homes has thrown a yearly summer ‘Meet The Neighbours’ BBQ, the first of which was only two weeks after we had moved into our home. Both years this has been a really lovely occasion, where we have had the opportunity to meet both current neighbours and those who are still waiting for their homes to be finished. DWH held the BBQs at their showhome and provided delicious catering for the event. If your developer hasn’t mentioned anything similar to you, I would definitely approach them and suggest it, as you may find that they take the idea on board and are happy to fund and host something to introduce new residents to each other.
I feel that we are very lucky that in Ebbsfleet Garden City the residents receive a great deal of support from the EDC, in regards to the funding and organisation of local events and clubs that serve the community. The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation have a Community Investment Fund to support local groups, and out of the many initiatives they have already assisted, I personally have made use of the free Coffee Morning at the community centre on Fridays, the Sunday Active club, the 2019 Castle Hill Easter Egg Hunt and the Holiday Football Club. The EDC also work with the schools in the area to run events such as Summer and Christmas Fetes, which are great opportunities to get involved and meet your neighbours.
2019 Easter Egg Hunt
There are a whole host of clubs and events set-up by residents in the Garden City. Many of these centre around the community centre, such as the various health and fitness classes, children’s sporting activities and seasonal events. However, there are also walking groups, bootcamps that take place in the park, Neighbourhood Watch and many more. If you are at work during the day, it can be hard to find the time to connect with those who live around you, but evening classes are a good way to meet new people and try a new activity or learn a new skill. In our neighbourhood, details of these classes are usually posted online, on the Facebook group or on the website of the business who runs it. This weekend my husband headed down to The Big Quiz Night, which was a BYOB charity evening social at the Castle Hill community centre. His feedback was that it was a great opportunity to meet other residents that he may not otherwise have bumped into, and a really fun way to spend an evening. It’s something that the organisers will definitely look to repeat in the future (while we await the actual pub to be built!), so keep an eye on the page.
The Big Quiz Night at the Castle Hill Community Centre
Celebrating Our Cultures
The community here is wonderfully diverse, and there have been so many opportunities to celebrate with each other throughout the year. Our immediate neighbourhood has changed so much since we first moved in – our house was the only one built on our road, we were on the edge of the construction and felt very much on the outskirts of the development. Now, we feel entirely in the thick of things, which was really proved on Halloween when we had loads of lovely (scary!) trick or treaters knocking round. It was a really nice evening and all the children and families who came were incredibly polite. Lots of the houses around us did an amazing job decorating their homes (we didn’t do any Halloween decorations ourselves, but I am saving all my decorating skills for Christmas!). Some of our neighbours have also been celebrating Diwali and treated us to stunning fireworks displays, which my kids loved being able to watch from our bedroom window! There was also a Diwali festival held at Ebbsfleet Academy, which everyone was invited and welcomed to. There will be lots of opportunities to get connected with your neighbours in Ebbsfleet Garden City over Christmas, including a carol service in December held at the community centre, which again is open to all.
Next month’s blog will focus on…CHRISTMAS! We are beyond excited for our second winter in Ebbsfleet Garden City, and have already lined up lots of fun activities in the area to get into the festive spirit. Make sure you check back here at the start of December to hear about all the great community events that will be taking place over the Christmas period, as well as get a sneak peek of how I’m decorating our house!