More Rotherhithe residents have spoken up against the proposed site for the new Canada Water leisure centre – with council leader Peter John also coming under fire for “trying to shut down discussion” on the matter.
Last week, the News spoke to Surrey Quays residents who were furiously opposing plans to possibly build on a “green haven” to the west of the shopping centre car park.
This week, more residents joined the furore – this time those living by the current Seven Islands Leisure Centre in Lower Road who say that the current site should instead be refurbished.
Tom Holder, who lives by the centre, told the News: “The current centre is well-used and well-liked. It’s located on the corner of two rows of old, three-storey houses – there are obvious fears of what might replace the centre and how it will affect the area.
“The current site, which is in a sort of U-shape, also has a lot of empty, unused space in the middle which could be developed. Why don’t the council seem to be properly considering refurbishing Seven Islands instead of moving it?”
Southwark Lib Dems have also waded into the row, with councillor Anood Al-Samerai claiming that council leader Peter John has been “trying to shut down discussion” – citing his online response to the News article last week.
After reading the article outlining the concerns of worried residents, councillor John commented on Twitter: “So let’s cancel the leisure centre?”
She said that it was “absolutely disgusting” how he had responded to genuine concerns of residents with a flippant remark. “Obviously we know that there is a need for a new leisure centre or a refurbished centre in the area, but residents must be listened to and cannot be dismissed. It seems like he is trying to shut down discussion,” said Cllr Al-Samerai.
Council Leader Peter John outright rejected these allegations. He said: “A new leisure centre at Canada Water is at the heart of the exciting plans for the area, which will also deliver new homes and a new town centre for residents in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.
“Of course we will engage and consult with local residents to ensure we get the plans right, but ultimately our commitment is to provide a new leisure centre with top quality facilities for local people.”
The Lib Dems have also submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council after asking “for months” without reply whether it was safe to build a centre over the East London Line tunnel.