Alan Cherry, the chairman of Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd, has died aged 76. Local MP, Nick Raynsford, has shared his memories of Alan Cherry:
Alan Cherry will be widely and deeply mourned throughout the housing, property and construction industries. As founding Director of Countryside Properties he created and built up one of Britain’s most successful and progressive development companies. His passionate commitment to the creation of high quality and sustainable communities shone through all his work, and has left a remarkable legacy.
Notley Garden Village in Essex, St Mary’s Island in Chatham, Greenwich Millennium Village (GMV) and Accordia in Cambridge have all been widely recognised and praised as imaginative, ground-breaking developments which raised the bar in terms of social, environmental and architectural quality and in doing so helped lift the reputation of the housebuilding and development industries. Accordia is the only housing development ever to have won the RIBA’s Stirling Prize, no mean achievement.
For me personally GMV will remain Alan’s finest memorial. Conceived in 1997 as the first Millennium Community to be promoted by the newly elected Labour Government, it has transformed a previously foully-polluted industrial wasteland into an exemplary mixed tenure development, demonstrating real vision as a brilliantly planned, imaginatively designed and environmentally responsible housing scheme. Alan threw himself with huge energy into the tough challenge of making GMV a success and achieving something special and memorable. When problems occurred, he never left it to others to sort out. He took a close personal interest in working to identify and implement solutions. He could see both the ‘big picture’ and the detail, and was never too grand or busy to deal with the minutiae. I last met him on site last summer when his passion and commitment remained undimmed, despite the onset of the illness that was tragically to end his life.
Unlike many others who have achieved huge success from relatively modest beginnings, Alan never lost his common touch and his sympathy for those less fortunate that himself. While some housebuilders stubbornly resisted demands to mix affordable and social homes with those for market sale, Alan showed that mixed income developments could work very successfully and took great pride in the fact that at GMV housing for rent and for sale is indistinguishable.
Alan didn’t keep his passions and skills to himself. He gave generously to a wealth of other causes, contributing to a series of ground-breaking initiatives such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Inquiry into British Housing in the 1980s, the Urban Task Force in the late 1990s and more recently the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership. He was for many years closely associated with Anglia Ruskin University and supported a range of charities and other good causes in his county of Essex.
It was always a pleasure to meet Alan. He combined a number of characteristics that do not always sit easily together. He was idealistic, entrepreneurial, imaginative, determined, courteous and thoughtful and combined a breadth of vision with modesty and personal kindness. I am very proud to have known Alan, to have called him a friend and to have been associated with one of his finest developments. He leaves behind an inspiring legacy and he will be remembered and honoured by many, many people whose lives he touched.