Southwark Council goes public on its plan to cut down wildlife area

Proposed site of leisure centre

Southwark Council has today published a report that publicly confirms its plan to cut down a wildlife area containing dozens of trees in order to build a replacement for the Seven Islands leisure centre. It is a deeply flawed plan for myriad reasons (read the report here, more about the site here and more about the threatened wildlife here).

Opponents of the plan have five days to lobby Southwark councillor Mark Williams, who will decide whether to endorse the preferred site proposal, which was devised without any consultation with local residents. It is vital that people email him before 5pm August 12 to oppose the plan at mark.williams@southwark.gov.uk.

Here are just nine of the flaws in the report that you might like to point out:

  1. The report reads like the site was the only one that British Land was prepared to sacrifice to community use on its vast 50-acre redevelopment, and that the council worked backwards from this point to justify this afterthought;
  2. There is little evidence that any alternative site has been seriously looked at – no specific alternatives have been named;
  3. The report makes absolutely no mention of the impact on wildlife, in spite of the “ecological led approach” promised in the latest masterplan for the area;
  4. There is a presumption that some kind of building has to go on the site of the wildlife area – why? They aren’t planning to build on Southwark Park are they? The wildlife area was to be left untouched in the previous version of the masterplan;
  5. The report neglects to mention that the swimming pool the council plans is 25m long – 8m shorter than the 33m Seven Islands pool it is supposed to be improving on;
  6. The option of prolonging the life of Seven Islands for the medium term, or doing a much more thorough long-term refurbishment, is dismissed abruptly;
  7. The council says it only wants a leisure centre on a site to which it owns the freehold but gives no compelling reason why it can’t be accommodated on another part of the Surrey Quays shopping centre site or Harmsworth Quays, whose freehold it does own;
  8. The report skates over the difficulty of siting a swimming pool so close to a London Overground tunnel – there is almost no evidence cited that this is actually possible;
  9. The upgrading of Deal Porters Way would leave residents of Hothfield Place, Hithe Grove and China Hall Mews unhealthily sandwiched between two major bus routes.
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