The wildlife area, situated on the edge of the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, is Southwark Council’s preferred site for a new leisure centre. Campaigners believe that the site is unsuitable because it is a wildlife area in close proximity to existing residents and would need a new road to be built to service the centre and allow buses to stop outside.
At the “guerilla gardening” event volunteers erected a handcrafted oak sign, cleared litter and sowed wildflowers. They took steps to encourage wildlife including the installation of a bee hotel, an insect home, two bird boxes and numerous bird feeders. The site currently supports a wide variety of bird and insect life, including dunnocks, blue tits, wrens, robins, wood pigeons and blackbirds.
British Land, the owner of the shopping centre, abruptly removed a sign that had been located there just over a year ago.
The old sign explained how the pocket of greenery helped “support and safeguard the diversity of plant and animal life”.
However, it was removed shortly after it emerged that Southwark Council, its development partner, wanted to cut down the trees to build a replacement for the Seven Islands Leisure Centre.
Catherine Whitaker, Canada Water West Residents Action Group chair, said: “It was wonderful to see the community come together and spend a chilly Saturday afternoon tending this green haven. We think it was a fitting 150th birthday tribute to Ada Salter, who believed in the beautification of cities and planted thousands of trees locally. We estimate that over 500 trees have been lost in the Rotherhithe peninsula over the last 2 years and we want to ensure that this disregard for the environment is stopped.”
Ada Salter 1866 – 1942 was the first female Mayor in London (Bermondsey, 1922). She was also an environment campaigner who had a vision for a garden city where plants and trees would improve people’s health.
Southwark Council is carrying out a consultation on the location of a new leisure centre as part of the redevelopment of the 45-acre Canada Water Masterplan area. The consultation closes on 29th April.