Environment fears for residents over housing plans for 53-acre site by Southwark council

BY GEORGINA GAMBETTA
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

A plan to build 3,000 new homes, creating 20,000 jobs on a 53-acre site has been approved by a town hall despite residents’ protests and concerns for the environment.

The Canada Water master plan, carried out by British Land, received the seal of approval from Southwark council on Monday.

The development site will include Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Surrey Quays Leisure Park, the Printworks, the former Rotherhithe police station, and historic Dock Offices courtyard.

Of the homes, 35 per cent are designated ‘affordable,’ of which 70 per cent will be social rent.

British Land said it undertook extensive and transparent engagements with more than 5,000 people in the community across the planning process.

But the Canada Water Forum, comprised of local stakeholders, are heavily critical of the long term impacts on the Russia Dock Woodland and Stave Hill Nature Reserve, known as the K1 site.

Rebeka Clark, resident and ecological officer for the reserve, said: “We have spent the last 30 years creating Stave Hill Ecology Park, a supremely successful example of what can be achieved with inner city green space.

Main Picture: The nature reserve called K1; above, an artist’s impression of part of the development;

“The green spaces of Russia Dock Woodland provide a place for children and families to play, explore and learn about nature.

“It is home to 26 species of butterfly, rare migrants like the hummingbird hawkmoth, endangered hedgehogs, cuckoos, nightingales and hundreds of wildflowers.

“We know that development happens and that we need to work with it. What worries us is the position and height of the proposed K1 block.

“For the southern end of the ecology park, light and heat from the sun will not travel through bricks or concrete.

“The soil won’t then be warm enough to support the necessary bacteria and microscopic creatures needed for healthy growth, and so you have less variety in plants.”

The forum said the impacts will not be immediate, but they will have a permanent negative effect on the biodiversity and usage of the space by the community.

Steve Cornish, member of the forum, said: “To see a double award-winning nature reserve, with the highest green flag status, trashed because of sheer greed of a master developer, supported by Southwark, is an insult.”

Emma Cariaga, joint head of Canada Water at British Land, said: “This is only the first step in the approval process and we are committed to continuing to engage and work with the local community to deliver the project, and ensure that the master plan benefits those living, working and studying in the area for years to come.”

Councillor Peter John, leader of Southwark council, said: “We are delighted that this major step towards our vision for Canada Water has been approved.

“The master plan provides the blueprint for an exciting new town centre that will provide thousands of new homes, particularly hundreds of new social rent homes, new jobs and opportunities, new open spaces and a brand new leisure centre for Rotherhithe in the first phase of the work.”

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