Rotherhithe residents have reacted with shock to a proposed ‘high rise jungle’ at Canada Water, after detailed plans for the new 5.5 million-square foot development were unveiled last week.
The huge project looks set to include five ‘landmark buildings’ towering up to 50 storeys in height, plus another two towers of at least 21 storeys and numerous others measuring between six and fifteen storeys.
The £2bn project, which covers the former Harmsworth Quays printworks, the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and the Mast Leisure Centre, will include the construction of 3,500 homes, a new high street, a town centre, a cultural and entertainment hub, a new leisure centre and a potential new university campus. The entire project is expected to take fifteen years to complete.
Resident Andie Byrnes told the News that she would leave the area if the project went ahead in the manner proposed by British Land.
She said: “When I moved here, this was a low-rise, quiet area. Obviously we knew there would be development but when you look at something as substantial as this… it’s not what I moved to and I’m not going to live with it.”
She said the exhibition last week had left her “speechless” and “terribly depressed” about the future of the area.
She added: “It is the complete re-definition of the peninsula, a place that I have lived in for over 20 years and valued for its role as a residential oasis in an otherwise over-crowded area. Basically, they are telling us to kiss the Rotherhithe we know goodbye.”
Colin Boyle, chair of the Southwark Green Party, echoed his dismay at the proposals outlined at the consultation exhibition.
He said: “This week’s exhibition of the Canada Water Masterplan has confirmed local residents’ worst fears. The Rotherhithe we know will be lost, and following fifteen years of disruptive upheaval, in its place we will have a high-rise, densely-packed urban landscape with all the pressures on transport and amenities that plague most other parts of inner London.”
Another major consultation exhibition will take place at the former Apple Snow unit opposite the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre Tesco on February 13 from 10am to 4pm.
Three ‘mini-exhibitions’ will also take place this month: the first on February 18 at the Osprey Estate TRA from 5.30pm to 8pm, the second on February 25 at the Canada Estate Tenants’ Hall from 3pm to 5.30pm and the third on the same day at the Mayflower Tenants Hall from 6.30pm to 9pm. Further consultation events will take place throughout 2016.
Emma Cariaga, project director for the Canada Water Masterplan, said: “We are delighted that so many local residents have already taken the time to come and take part in the consultation where we have presented a point in time in the development proposals.
“Our emerging plans include new homes, workspaces, retail and restaurants, alongside leisure, entertainment and a potential higher education campus.
“Local input is key to shape our proposals ahead of planning submission and we hope to welcome many more people to the consultation in the coming weeks.”
What is being proposed?
- High Street – A pedestrianised boulevard has been planned form Canada Water station to Surrey Quays station. The ‘open-air retail street’ will include national and independent shops along with restaurants and cafes.
- Park – A new 3.5 acre park has been planned for the area currently occupied by Hollywood Bowl. It is being touted as the ‘heart of the residential neighbourhood.’ The consultation artwork includes numerous trees and water features.
- Town Centre – This outdoor area will include ‘external dining and play’ facilities, and will be adjacent to the new culture hub, which will house shows, workshops and entertainment events.
- Homes – The project is proposing the construction of around 3,500 homes spread across the site, an unspecified amount of which will be affordable. British Land have promised “London and local-first sales” and an option for Southwark Council social rented homes.
- Leisure Centre – Southwark Council is proposing to create a new leisure centre at the western edge of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park. The chosen site for the facility, which would replace the Seven Islands Leisure Centre, has been criticised as it currently houses a ‘green haven’.