Southwark Council and its developer partner must listen to local residents on plans for the regeneration of Canada Water and not allow it to look like a ‘done deal,’ local Liberal Democrats have said.
Many residents have expressed fears about the proposals after visiting the recent Canada Water Masterplan exhibition and seeing the scale and density of the buildings proposed. It has become clear during the consultation though that the proposals for buildings of up to fifty floors at Canada Water do not enjoy all the community’s support.
There are also serious concerns about the lack of infrastructure planning in the proposals with at least 4,500 new homes due to be built. Huge extra pressure will be placed on local schools and GP surgeries, as well as the underground and buses.
Transport in the area is under particular pressure with buses too crowded to board and the roads on and off the peninsula regularly gridlocked. Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a new shuttle bus around the peninsula, as well as a walking and cycling bridge to Canary Wharf. They have urged the Council to ensure these are built before any plans to massively increase the number of homes in the area are agreed.
In their formal response to the Council consultation, local Liberal Democrats stated that the current Masterplan proposals would damage the unique nature of the Canada Water area with many of its most attractive features lost, such as the water and green areas, low-rise buildings and low density of the area. They also argued that environment and carbon reduction should both be at the heart of the plans but are missing.
Surrey Docks Liberal Democrat councillors have called on the Council and their developers, British Land, to listen to all the feedback from residents and come back with a revised plan that shows more respect to the existing nature and character of the area.
Plans for a new leisure centre on existing green space have also been panned by Liberal Democrats. They have accused the Labour council of pre-empting community views by declaring its ‘preferred site’ before its consultation even began. They have called on the Council and British Land to show they are willing to change the site.
Surrey Docks Liberal Democrat councillor David Hubber said:
“While we support new homes and jobs in the Rotherhithe area, Liberal Democrats have always argued that development must be done ‘with’ local residents, not ‘to’ them.
“Many residents have contacted us with real fears after visiting the Masterplan exhibition and seeing the scale and density of the buildings proposed. Liberal Democrat councillors have already argued that tall buildings should only be located where the community backs them and deliver genuinely affordable homes.
“Canada Water is an amazing opportunity for jobs, homes, leisure and for finally improving the infrastructure in the area. But it will also create huge profits for British Land and it is essential that maximising those profits does not become the driving force in this regeneration project. Improved transport, health and broadband services must be in place before any massive regeneration gets under way.
“Liberal Democrats also believe that the Council should commit to changing its preferred site for the new leisure centre if the responses show public opposition. The people who live in the area and will use the new leisure centre should decide where it is and what it looks like, not the developers.
“The Council and British Land must now listen to residents and come back with a revised masterplan that shows more respect to the existing character of the area, that protects and enhanced the local environment, and tackles air pollution.“