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Rotherhithe residents furious over leisure centre plans at ‘green haven’

Furious Rotherhithe residents have accused Southwark Council of ‘betraying local people’ after learning that a wildlife area is being earmarked as the possible site for a new leisure centre.

A ‘green haven’ on the western side of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park is being considered as the site for the new facilities, which will replace the current Seven Islands centre in Lower Road. Dozens of mature trees would need to be felled if it was selected.

Adam Jones is a resident of Hithe Grove which, along with Hothfield Place and China Hall Mews, would back onto the proposed new site. He is one of a number of residents who have formed the Canada Water West Residents’ Action Group to fight against the proposal.

He told the News: “No consideration is being given to residents or the environment. There is a huge variety of wildlife present here: dunnocks, wrens, robins, blue tits, wood pigeons and even bats, not to mention insects and plant life. They depend on this area for shelter and food.

“There was a tremendous amount of green rhetoric in the Canada Water masterplan but Southwark Council and British Land are just not living up to it. These green pockets support ecosystems and the masterplan explicitly acknowledges their importance. But now they have given up their principles and betrayed local people and the environment because of financial issues.”

The green space.
The green space.

He added that residents were worried about a myriad of other issues with the proposed site, including light problems, the nearby Overground track, possible re-routeing of buses and whether the swimming pool would be as long as the one at the current Seven Islands centre.

Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We are working with British Land to bring forward the redevelopment of Surrey Quays shopping centre and the Harmsworth Quay printworks.

“This will deliver new homes, a new town centre and a new public leisure centre for residents in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. We are in the process of consulting with local residents on our preferred location and this will continue into the autumn.

“Seven Islands has been a good centre for local people but it is old, difficult and expensive to maintain and can’t offer the top quality facilities we want for local people as part of our free swim and gym promise. We will continue to have these discussions with local people and I will be meeting with residents soon to personally hear their views.”

Richard Wise, Head of Retail Development at British Land, said:  “Southwark Council will soon start consultation with residents on the preferred location for a new leisure centre at Canada Water, and later this year, we are planning to consult on the wider Canada Water Masterplan proposals, including the new leisure facilities. We remain committed to working with both Southwark Council and the local community on our development proposals at Canada Water.”

The first drop-in consultation session will take place at Canada Water Library on September 2 from 6.00pm-7.30pm.


The location of the green space on the western edge of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park.
The location of the green space on the western edge of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre car park.


  1. I totally agree with this I support that plot of land to remain as it is!
    But it gets much worse with the Leisure Centre!!
    Southwark is telling people they are giving them an 8 lane swimming pool .. they are not telling them that they are downgrading sport in the borough and replacing the Seven Island 33 meter swimming pool with a school children swimming pool of only 25 meters and not 4 m deep, so no scuba .. no adult sports only make money with “swimming lessons”.. once the kids can swim.. go somewhere else.
    London agreed in exchange for the Olympic Bid to promote sport in London not demote it.
    It is very important that we all object to the site of the Leisure Center and we also explain that we want to keep Seven Islands or find a proper site which will allow an Olympic pool only 17 meters more than we have at present.. now that would be promoting sports.. Also remembering Tom Daley and the swimming champions we should also have diving boards..
    We want an upgrade to sports in the Borough not a downgrade and using a spot allocated to wild life.. What Southwark proposes is rubbish .. the proposed site is rubbish .. the proposed center is rubbish.. tear up the Master Plan if that is the best you can come up with!

  2. There have been new developments there is going to be a meeting about the Leisure Centre after

    the expiry date of April 29th but findings will be taken in to account, it will be after the May 5th elections according to Councillor Williams.
    I have also been made aware of the document which I have answered with comments sent before April 29th just in case.
    This is the document:

    And here are my two sets of comments:

    April 5th 2016

    To: Councillor Mark Williams


    PO BOX 64529

    London SE1P 5LX

    Problems with the leisure centre design and location.

    Dear Labour

    the consultation meeting on March 30th I was only able to put my
    objections to where the proposed Leisure Centre is going to be sited which is
    bad for the nature reserve and the cycle lane to the very centre of the Master
    Plan development, both must be protected so I oppose this site.

    the Architect introduced the swimming pool I was unable to put my opinion to
    the meeting regarding the projected main swimming pool which you insist is some
    kind of great achievement when in reality it is not even as good as the pool
    which we have already at Seven Islands. Our present main pool not only supports
    children learning to swim. Our present main pool was designed by more competent
    and informed professionals who had in mind that swimming pools are not only for
    children learning to swim but they are also for children and adults to be able
    to practice and learn a wide range of sports such as board diving, scuba diving
    and to prepare for real competition swimming. Even though our run down by
    Southwark main pool today is not an Olympic pool it is much more on its way to
    being one than the pathetic 25 x 17 meters proposed, which I oppose.

    When the
    lifeguards administering the new pool are put under pressure with all the new
    schools and with all the new pupils from this fantastic Master Plan Development
    and they arrive at the small and short proposed pool of 25 x 17, they will
    cordon off the shallow end and this will leave the other swimmers with a
    totally inadequate 18 meter pool during the day, as if 25 meters wasn’t
    inadequate enough already, it is a poor choice indeed.

    If your
    best swimmers, both children and adults would rather swim and train at the
    alternative closest pool at St. George’s in Tower Hamlets, then you would have
    failed to give the public subjected to your Master Plan a pool in accordance
    with a “Master Plan” that can also impress and invite users to the different
    water sports which can be practiced today in our present pool. Your suggested
    pool and Leisure Centre are more like a bolt on afterthought to the Master Plan
    and don’t do it credit.

    I urge
    you to visit the nearest alternative pool at St. George’s Pools Tower Hamlets.
    From their website:
    I will take its description:

    St George’s Leisure Centre

    Georges Leisure Centre is situated on The Highway in the heart of
    Wapping. The centre has been part of the borough’s history for many years
    and has recently seen a refurbishment with the addition of a new studio space
    with separate entrance area. Also available are 2 pools, the largest of
    which is regularly used by local swimming clubs and was used by the
    Russian Federations Synchronised Swimming team, brand new diving boards
    and a gym which operates women only sessions. These redevelopments will
    help to provide residents with year round activities for all ages and abilities
    across the sport and health and wellbeing spectrum. ….

    George’s Pool is not only the closest competition to what the Master Plans has to
    offer, it also has a user base which will be similar to what will follow the
    Master Plan Southwark.

    The Master Plan Competition: When a normal client goes in to St. George’s Pool
    they will look and see a large pool, new diving boards, banners saying Tom
    Daley teaches to dive here.. they will think this is the business.. and what
    you are proposing is not up to the standards of this old, refurbished and well
    loved Imperial pool. The choice of sports which are available on their own are
    much wider. This pool even looks like an Olympic pool with its 33 meters and
    3.8 meters deep…(just like our pool)

    If you
    question your best swimmers, both children and adults as to where they would rather
    swim and train, I can confirm that each of your good swimmers of any age will
    prefer St. George’s in Tower Hamlets to your children’s 25 x 17 little pool and
    if you build it you would have failed in your job to promote sports and fitness..
    You would have also failed the Master
    Plan with all those new workers and residents who may want a decent pool to
    swim in beyond your pool for children learning to swim.

    North of
    the river they haven’t run down their leisure centre as you have done in
    Southwark with Seven Islands. What you propose as the “Leisure Centre of the
    Master Plan” can’t compete with its next door neighbour from the 60’s! For a
    start they kept and renewed their diving boards!

    The Master Plan Market: Very important to mention too is
    that St. George’s has a similar customer base to what one can expect when the
    Master Plan has been implemented as it is attended by workers from the East side
    of the City and by residents, many swim before going in to work, during lunch
    hours or after work. It all starts at 7am and finishes at 21.30. So if you want
    valid data for Erlang statistics to calculate the busy hour or peak period to
    dimension the facilities you should really use St. George’s data and not the
    run down Seven Islands where doors and windows are opened in winter.

    offering not only swimming for children and old dears but also a range of
    sports for good swimmers both children and adults). PLEASE GIVE US SOMETHING
    CENTRE IS NO GOOD and I oppose it for what it has inside and its location, I
    also oppose any change of use of the Seven Islands property which because of
    its approximate 45 x 85 meters could happily accommodate a 50 meter pool and
    all the other facilities.


    David Foot

    And the additional:

    April 28th 2016

    To: Councillor
    Mark Williams


    PO BOX 64529

    London SE1P 5LX

    Dear Sir:

    I have been informed that you will be holding
    a supplementary meeting regarding the Leisure Centre after May 5th
    and that it will be considering the comments made after the deadline of April
    29th. 2016.

    You also mention a
    document Site for location of new Canada Water Leisure


    I wish you to add my
    comments bellow to my former comments made and which you can find in the email
    trail if that helps, if not please contact me.

    I will also make sure
    that you get a first class letter too by post of these comments as they refer
    to points in the document and which I hadn’t been aware of.

    Yours truly,

    David Foot

    5 Walker House

    11 Odessa Street

    London SE16 7HD



    Cc Email and Councillor Williams

    Point 37: User numbers
    attending Seven Islands Leisure Centre says it is under used, my comments to be
    considered are as follows:

    For the pool to be more used you must not reduce the size of the pool,
    specially its length, you must also make sure that there is a stable timetable
    all the year round inside and outside school terms, you must stop forcing people to become part of your
    membership scheme and make it optional in cash terms and of course you can
    favour regular users if you wish but without excluding the rest by charging
    prohibitive costs, you must make sure that the pool is a healthy environment
    and that you don’t make users sick by
    opening doors and windows when it is cold, specially in winter!

    Pool use: SIMILAR LEISURE CENTRE: As explained in my earlier communication, I
    would expect numbers attending to be similar to the demand put on St. Georges
    Pool – The Highway – Tower hamlets if
    the Council supplies the needs for the facilities to exercise as is done in
    that pool, which means opening hours to allow exercise before going to
    work, attending workers and residents needs during the lunch break and also in
    the evenings.

    SWIMMING IS IT FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN OR FOR ALL THE POPULATION?: It is important to note at this stage
    that swimming is a very special sport in the sense that it allows the
    exercising of muscles but without wearing the joints nor imposing on the spine
    for support, it also evens out the temperature of the body and the head
    allowing more intense exercises which without the cooling effect would be hard to
    maintain, so it is very unique and brings huge health benefits for the body and
    for the mind.

    If the Council considers that
    the swimming pool is not only the preserve of school children but as St.
    George’s Pool it is also for the health and wellbeing of all the population: children and adults too, then timetables should be firmly upheld
    throughout the year regardless of school terms or holidays as Southwark doesn’t do at present.

    The space allocated to schools
    such as the cordoned off shallow end could be dedicated to fun and whatever..
    and the rest of the pool dedicated to the general public even during holidays keeping
    the timetables constant and reliably for everybody to have their exercise
    timetables unaffected. A longer pool would make this even more possible.

    Also if the pool is to be not
    only for school children learning to swim but also for the good of all the
    population then it must have an adequate
    size in width and in length to allow this.

    At present we have a 33 meter Imperial Pool which was very well
    designed for adults and children and many different sports, some of these
    sports the Council has abandoned (board diving) but this has not happened in
    St. Georges where Tom Daley helps teach board diving, regrettably Southwark
    took out our diving boards, but this doesn’t take away the fact that any
    replacement should be designed at least as well as the present Imperial pool
    which Europeans would want it replaced by the 25 meters or 50 meters versions,
    being the 25 meters a huge step backwards for swimming.

    38: Maximizing participation in physical activity
    : would not be served by a 25 meter pool.

    The only improvement to our
    present facilities would have to be a 50 meter pool with sufficient depth to
    allow board diving, and with the requested 8 lanes to allow the pool to be
    split in different sessions, while the 50 meters would really come in to its
    own when schools cordon off the shallow end and would leave the other swimmers
    a reasonable length to swim in during most of the days during school term. A 25
    meter pool would be unacceptable for this reason as in a mayor leisure centre
    serving such an increased population and many schools it would leave during
    most of the day a space of only 18 meters length for the public to swim in!
    Totally unacceptable and frustrating in such an over developed and populated town
    centre area for mixed use.

    The advantage of a proper 50
    meter pool would be as a venue for dedicated swimmers and divers who would be
    able to use such a facility to give us future champions, and so while we would
    be serving the lowest common denominator most of the time, we would keep the
    flexibility to be offering a simultaneous venue for excellence, making it
    possible for the most talented residents to prosper for the credit of our
    population and the Council. At present Southwark can’t supply anything like
    this anywhere so this is the opportunity to put things right.

    doors in winter making people sick.

    It goes without saying that
    users should be able to expect a safe environment at any Leisure Centre
    administered by any Council!

    In the process of talking to
    users about this change when I found out about it, some told me that they no longer went to Seven Islands because it
    made them sick.

    the past three years I have been fighting a vigorous campaign against the
    opening of doors and windows in midwinter putting users at risk
    of catching serious illnesses as I myself think I have caught because of this
    mentally inexplicable behaviour by managers at Seven Islands.

    Even yesterday regardless of
    the cold temperatures and that the ventilation is supposed to be fixed there
    was a large window open and the air in the pool hall and changing rooms was
    freezing. I will say no more about this except that some unqualified person has
    been going around with a hygrometer saying that all that matters is the
    dampness levels.. how the Council can pay somebody with this “type of
    knowledge” is hard to explain or understand!

    4. Finally the Cost:

    many years ago imposed an out of proportion price increase for the use the
    Leisure Centre and swimming pool. The fact that now it talks about free swimming sessions for
    the sake of the health of the population is an indictment on its own former
    policy of excluding people from using its facilities on the basis of cost.

    introduced a membership scheme against our opposition. It was impossible
    for an average working resident to come in from the street when they had the
    time and simply go for a swim. Southwark
    increased the cost for that which went from £1.20 to £5 and this was too
    much. In my case I started to swim in St. Georges’ Pool which eventually
    introduced a membership scheme but was cheaper than Southwark, so even then I
    continued swimming at St. George’s until my retirement. I like St. Georges now
    too, but I must look after the money, and it is now cheaper for me to swim at
    Seven Islands.

  3. Here is my complaint about the consultation process.

    It is clear to me that in addition to what I said before, after reading point
    37 of their document and having recorded so many problems on this site, I have
    to request Southwark to modify point 37 of their document.

    Also there is a trend to want to give the work to the architects of British
    Land without a competition which is unusual if now Southwark wish to own the
    freehold of the site, then in a case like this there should be no excuse not to
    have a proper competition where British Land’s poor quality proposal can be

    This is specially noticeable because the British Land Architects put a 25 meter
    pool on the proposed redevelopment of the Seven Islands site when it is taking
    TODAY at present to thirds of a 50 meter pool sideways!.. On the ground floor
    of Seven Islands there is space for two 50 meter pools or even a 50 meter pool
    25 meter wide There should be a proper competition for this work and not give
    it to the first company at hand nor to the first trainee who turns up, so that
    price, design and quality can be compared.

    Here are the point which I have made to Southwark

    Team at Canada Water Master Plan

    Dear Sirs:

    Your reference is 571469 from the Internet, regarding complaint against arbitrary process of consultation for a replacement Leisure Centre for Seven Islands Leisure Centre. My complaint against the process of consultation which I started by letter and on line in February 2016 as soon as I got your letter informing me of a consultation.

    I expect a reply to this complaint after the consultation process has run its course.

    As this terrible
    process evolves, I wish to add issues to and summarise the issues already
    raised in my complaint about your process of consultation for the selection of
    a Leisure Centre Site, specifically your public document “Site
    for location of new Canada Water Leisure Centre.PDF” point 37 which in my
    view you mislead the public by saying in your point 37 that Seven Islands
    Leisure Centre is underused.

    It is very modest of Southwark Council /
    Labour Councillor Williams to present point 37 to the general public as saying
    that the Leisure Centre is not used as much as it should be as if giving credit
    to the users for not turning up when it has been really totally to the credit
    of Southwark Council / Labour Councillor Williams who have been working to make
    Seven Islands Leisure Centre as impenetrable to the users as is possible
    without going as far as using force against the people wanting to stay fit.

    Point 37 should read: Acknowledgement of the
    success by Southwark Council’s policies towards achieving the impenetrability
    of Seven Islands Leisure Centre and of course quoting their figures which
    ratify this statement.

    Southwark Council has:

    * Opened
    doors and windows in winter making users sick (well documented by myself
    and believe I went down with flu twice because of this)

    * Overcharging
    access and making access financially prohibitive so that some of us would
    even go to other Boroughs for Leisure Services! (Before 1998 you introduced a
    “membership scheme” increasing entrance fees from £1.20 to close to £5.00). You
    were so effective pricing everybody out, that you have had no need to increase
    your exclusion or “membership” fees in nearly 20 years! I myself used to swim
    mostly at St. George’s in Tower Hamlets until I retired and now I must look
    after all my expenses as it would be difficult to find additional income

    * Simply
    not allowing access to the public if all else fails, they have membership,
    they passed all the hurdles.. tell them to go away! This is the most effective
    one, if all else fails simply don’t let them in!.. Job done!. Please see
    reference (1) for documentation of how Southwark has succeeded in this field. I
    have also experienced this policy as the others mentioned here.

    So if the same people and policies are used
    to manage your new Leisure Centre in this way you will still have low
    attendance as explained above but the advantage is that you will also have:

    . A load of chopped down trees and a dead
    nature reserve and too few customers.

    . A blocked cycle lane, blocked pedestrian
    access and too few customers.

    . Loads of neighbours lives and quiet cull de
    sac wrecked and too few customers.

    . Only a children’s swimming lessons swimming
    pool and too few customers.

    All in all .. You are leaving nothing to
    chance, Southwark is well on its way to achieve the perfect impenetrable Seven Islands
    Leisure Centre! And thanks to this and other things you will be replacing it
    with a second rate leisure centre in the wrong place with inferior facilities
    for an even greater catchment area and with the same administration the
    relative usage will be even worse.

    core of what I wish to add to my complaint about the arbitrary process of
    consultation is that in order not to mislead the public you should put in point
    37:Successful policy blocking the use of the Leisure Centre..

    The only thing you don’t block are the profitable swimming lessons which will be
    institutionalised in the new Centre with the help of the trainee architects
    from British Land who can build little swimming pools you will give the Borough
    a pool for swimming lessons and unfit for hardly anything else.. 25 meters of
    European rubbish to replace one of the two good things Seven Island has its
    Imperial swimming pool and its land.

    Reference (1) Documentation of this point –
    Copy of my letter to Southwark Leisure services is attached.

    I have documented my complaint today at the
    Leisure Centre by leaving a complaint form at Reception of Seven Islands and by
    sending a letter to Leisure Services, and I will try to put the complaint on
    the Internet and also post everything during the long weekend.

    Please add this issue to the points which I
    have made already in my original complaint against your arbitrary process of
    consultation namely (letter Feb 8th 2016 and Internet)

    Summary of points raised so far:

    1. In your first and only letter to the
    public informing them of the consultation you
    failed to give the fact that Southwark specified to British Land (or British
    Land specified to Southwark) a 25 meter European pool for children who can’t
    swim swimming lessons and useful for very little else to replace the 33 meter
    Imperial pool so well designed for adults and children and a wide range of

    2. In
    your letter you were simply saying 8 lane swimming pool and you didn’t clarify
    that you weren’t talking about the originally
    specified new swimming pool for the Master Plan specified as 50 meter pool. Nor
    were you referring to the present day Imperial pool, you were talking about
    something totally inferior and different and unmentioned. You failed tell the
    public that Southwark or British Land were changing the original specification
    and were now specifying 25 meters of European rubbish, a swimming pool for
    children’s swimming lessons, about all what it is good for.- Very misleading!
    Very inadequate for a massive development.

    3. You
    were aware that you were going to block a cycle lane and smash up a nature
    reserve, and that there were complaints already about this but you failed to
    inform the public about this in your letter calling for consultation.

    4. You
    were aware that behind Hothfield Place the area would be totally transformed by
    dense building wall to wall changing the character of this pleasant quiet area which
    we enjoy when we walk and cycle through. And neighbours who were aware of
    all this for some reason before the rest of us had already complained about
    this and it was well documented but you didn’t put this in your letter calling
    for consultation.

    5. You
    were aware that there were complaints about the very tall buildings British
    Land wanted to introduce but you failed to tell the public about this in your
    invitation to consultation letter, which didn’t cover all the problems raised
    such as inadequate services of all types, already deficient for residents and
    business as things are now without the Master Plan.

    6. Your
    employees during the consultation actively supported the bogus project of
    consultation using public money to mislead and to satisfy your / British Land’s
    politically / individually / commercially desired ends.

    7. You
    put leading questions in the consultation pressuring the public not to ask for
    to keep the Seven Islands site threatening them with three years without a
    Leisure Centre but not warning them that if they did vote for the new site they
    will be accepting for more than fifty years an inferior / inadequate 25 meter
    European pool for children’s swimming lessons replacing the much better
    designed Imperial Pool and the originally specified 50 meter pool for the
    Master Plan. This you did not tell the public in your letter calling for
    consultation and it is not clear how or why the 50 meter pool vanished. You
    seem to want to give the project to British Land who may not be able to
    construct anything but small pools, actually they may have a history of dishing
    out only small pools.

    8. The
    fact that you now specify that the Leisure Centre can’t be in a mixed use
    building as originally specified is totally arbitrary as a building can
    have some floors gutted out entirely and refurbished to new without major
    problems for the other floors if it has been professionally designed (not by
    trainee architects of course you need building experience). Any way Leisure
    Centres can last half a century or more as Seven Islands and St. George’s
    clearly demonstrate. And what is more St. George’s has a 33 meter pool on a first floor and was built half a century ago! That is why I insist on getting
    proper architects.

    9. Added today to my complaint: The successful policy of Southwark Council
    stopping users from getting in to the Leisure Centre .. amending point 37
    of your document for choosing the location of the Leisure Centre which as
    proved by my complaint of April 30th 2016 this policy of Southwark
    should be reflected in point 37 expressing the success of Southwark policy
    which at peak times can achieve the perfect impenetrability of the Leisure

    Yours truly

    David Foot

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