The picture above shows the trees that are under threat, outlined in red. They are on the far western edge of the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, which is one of three adjoining sites that British Land, the property group, is planning to redevelop in Canada Water.
Southwark Council and British Land want to cut down these trees to build a leisure centre (the hatched area on the diagram below), knocking down the existing Seven Islands leisure centre on Lower Road in the process.
Building a leisure centre in this location would have a terrible effect on wildlife. The trees were destined to be preserved in the previous version of the masterplan for the broader regeneration of the area and form part of a previously-identified green corridor.
The resited leisure centre would have a terrible effect on local residents too. Destined to be up to four storeys high (originally we were told five storeys), it would be just metres from the back doors of homes in Hithe Grove, Hothfield Place and China Hall Mews.
It would loom over these homes from a site that is already elevated, blocking light, eroding privacy and creating noise problems from ventilation shafts etc.
The Canada Water West Residents Action Group also has concerns that this location – squeezed up against the edge of a 50-acre site on a plot that feels very much like an afterthought – is all wrong for a leisure centre anyway.
It is very close to an Overground railway tunnel, for a start, so there is a strong chance it would need special dispensation from Transport for London to build a swimming pool so near its infrastructure. This could take years, or the permission might never be given.
Southwark Council has already confirmed that the swimming pool it has in mind would be only 25m long – the current Seven Islands Leisure Centre pool is 33m, and British Land was once promising a 50m Olympic-sized pool.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to rebuild Seven Islands instead?
We are deeply concerned about the way this has been handled, as well as the fact that Southwark Council owns the freehold to the site it wants to develop. This means it has the power to approve a planning application that it is intimately involved in putting forward.