Southwark Council has agreed to “go back to British Land” to ask them to “look at all of the potential sites” of the new Canada Water Leisure Centre, after months of pressure from local councillors and residents.
In a meeting on June 28, British Land and councillor Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and New Homes, met concerned residents about the preferred location of the leisure centre, which will replace Rotherhithe’s Seven Islands Leisure Centre.
Councillor Williams said in a letter after the meeting: “I committed to not rush making a decision on where the new leisure centre will go, and we will now go back to British Land and ask them to look at all of the potential sites and see whether an alternative location can be found.
“This will tie in with their current work on reviewing the overall Masterplan following their public consultation earlier this year.”
He also said he wanted to “reset” the council’s relationship with residents as the issue had been controversial for some time. “As set out last night I want to reset our relationship with local residents so that we can have an open and productive dialogue over the coming months and years,” he added.
News of the council’s decision was welcomed by the Canada Water West Residents’ Action Group, a collection of residents opposed to the preferred location on the western side of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park.
Catherine Whitaker, Chair of the group, said: “I very much welcome Mark Williams’ commitment to rethink the plans for the leisure centre.
“It came as a surprise but I think he saw that the community is united in opposition to the council’s ‘preferred’ site and as he put it, it’s time to ‘reset the relationship’ between the community and the council on this issue.”
The new leisure centre is part of the wider £2bn Canada Water Masterplan which will see some 3,500 new homes built as well as five 50 storey buildings.
The location of the leisure centre was a key topic during the recent Surrey Docks ward by-election, and was part of the victorious Liberal Democrat candidate Dan Whitehead’s campaign.
Councillor Whitehead said: “It’s good that all our pressure has forced to the council to finally listen to the community and say that it wants to ‘re-set’ its relationship with residents. It is a shame that it has taken almost a year to get to this point though.
“There are other possible sites that should be looked at and I am glad that residents and Liberal Democrat councillors have pushed the Council to slow down and look at all the options properly. I will continue to fight residents’ corner.”