Other Open Space: a new campaign for Ada’s Garden

Canada Water West Residents Action Group is encouraging our supporters to request ‘Other Open Space’ status for Ada’s Garden, the woodland on the western edge of the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. The site was previously under threat of destruction to make way for a new leisure centre – a plan which we persuaded Southwark Council to abandon last year.

We hope that a designation of ‘Other Open Space’ will safeguard this wildlife area from other forms of development in the future.

Supporters can request this by responding to the New Southwark Plan consultation by the end of Friday 28th April.  Follow the link and enter your comments in support in the ‘Rotherhithe’ section of the consultation form.

Our own submission highlighted the biodiversity of the area, its role in reducing pollution and improving health, and the visual interest it provides pedestrians and cyclists on the Prince of Orange Walkway to the Shopping Centre.

We also hope that it will allow the community help persuade British Land to conduct more active ecological management of the site, or to allow a community gardening project. The appetite for this was demonstrated by a ‘guerrilla gardening’ event in April 2016 which saw 20 volunteers clear litter, plant further wildflowers, put up bird feeders and a bee hotel.

Furthermore, with the huge levels of development to come as part of the Canada Water AAP, other trees in the vicinity will be lost – for example the avenue of 18 lime trees leading from this site to the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. While new trees will be promised as part of the plans, there will be a gap of several years before they are planted and they will not be as mature as the trees that they replace.

Here is some of what we put in our submission:

Ada’s Garden is an important home for wildlife because it is untended and has grown wild. It therefore provides a woodland habitat that is distinct and unlike others in the vicinity. The area also forms a potential habitat corridor within an otherwise urbanised location.

Within the last 12 months, the following bird species have been spotted: dunnock, wren, blackbird, wood pigeon, robin, greater spotted woodpecker, chaffinch, great tits. The dunnock is a species of principal importance under S.41 of the NERC Act (2006) and has been placed on the Amber List of birds of conservation concern.

There is evidence from residents’ observation that nesting is taking place with young robin and tits spotted in summer 2016. There is an abundance of birdsong which can be heard from the Tesco car park. Ada’s Garden also supports a high level of insect life and mammals such as squirrels and foxes.

In an ecological report conducted by Watermans in September 2015, the following tree species were noted: sycamore, yew, cherry, ash, field maple Acer campestre and Norway maple Acer platanoides. There are also a variety of shrubs, and wildflowers including bluebells and wild garlic in the spring.

Ada’s Garden provides a dense green screen and natural amenity for residents of Lower Road, China Hall Mews, Hithe Grove and Hothfield Place whose properties border the area on its western edge. For the hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists using the Prince of Orange Walkway on its eastern edge each day, it provides a calm green haven. The area is filled with birdsong and changes with the seasons to provide visual interest to the built environment.

This area is subject to a high level of pollution and noise from the busy Lower Road arterial route (A200) which, as an approach to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, is frequently gridlocked. It is essential, for reasons of reducing pollution and safeguarding the health of residents that the trees are kept for their environmental benefits.

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