Rotherhithe residents have dedicated a threatened wildlife patch to Ada Salter, on the 150th birthday of the environmental campaigner and the first female mayor in London.
A “green haven” located to the western edge of the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park has been marked as Southwark Council’s preferred location for a new leisure centre, to the disgust of local residents.
The Canada Water West Action Group, who were formed in order to coordinate the opposition to the destruction of the small woodland, argue that either the new centre should be built elsewhere or the current Seven Islands facility in Lower Road should be rebuilt.
Councillor Mark Williams, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, firmly believes that the site is the “best option” for the new centre.
Their naming of the green patch in honour of Bermondsey icon is the campaigners’ latest attempt to get the council to reconsider their options.
Catherine Whitaker, chair of the Canada Water West Residents’ Action Group, said: “The re-naming of the wildlife area and the creation of a new sign shows just how much local people value this natural resource.
“The move is also a 150th birthday tribute to Ada Salter, who planted thousands of trees locally and understood the importance of areas like this for people’s wellbeing.”
She added that the council’s consultation “glosses over the fact that the area is full of mature trees and is a rare wild space that cannot be replaced.”
Ms Salter, who became mayor of Bermondsey in 1922, believed that “the cultivation of flowers and trees is a civic duty”, and was responsible for planting 7,000 trees in the north of the borough.
Historian Graham Taylor told the News: “She covered the whole of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe in flowers. Every open space she filled with playgrounds, with art and with music.”
Cllr Williams said: “We are currently consulting on our preferred location for a brand new leisure centre for Canada Water, with an eight lane pool, learner pool, four courts sports hall, three studios and a 150 station gym. When built, this new leisure centre will be covered by our free gyms and swims plan, meaning local residents can use these new facilities for free on Fridays and weekend afternoons.
“We are awaiting the results from the public consultation before making a final decision on the location in the summer, and I am meeting local people at a public meeting this week to discuss the plans and hear their views.”
Emma Cariaga, British Land’s Project Director responsible for the Canada Water Masterplan, said: “The Masterplan proposals have taken inspiration from the green and blue nature of the area and will include a new public realm including a 3.5 acre park, public squares and enhancements to the dock amongst a true mix of uses including new homes, retail and workspace. For background, the sign which stood in the Prince of Orange Walkway was removed in early 2015 as it was causing some confusion locally over whether the area has a formal ecological designation. In terms of Ada Salter’s contribution to the local area, we would welcome the opportunity to pay tribute to her and her work locally through the naming of the new streets and spaces within the masterplan.”
Have your say on the proposal at Southwark Council’s online consultation hub – www.consultations.southwark.gov.ukResidents have until April 4 to submit their views.