By Will Brook
Residents are deflated after their legal challenge against a huge land development was rejected.
Southwark council had approved the Canada Water Master Plan in September 2019, a £4billion redevelopment of the area, delivered by developers British Land PLC in partnership with the council.
Residents were angered at the plans, which they argued would plunge two schools, two nature reserves and residential flats into shade.
They formed an action group called G7, and raised more than £27,000 in order to cover the legal costs of challenging the development in the High Court.
But on Thursday the judge ruled in favour of the council and developers, meaning the construction will go ahead.
Steve Cornish, 67, is a lifelong resident of the area, and took a leading role in fighting the development.
He is the elected chairman of Friends of Russia Dock Woodland, a group which protects the 45-acre woodland and connected Stave Hill ecological park, which will be impacted by the development.
He said: “Although the Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks community have been unsuccessful in their legal challenge to be granted permission to proceed to judicial review, it once again sends out a strong message to any prospective developer that we will fight them tooth and nail if we feel inappropriate development has a harmful impact on our established natural environment.
“You have to be in the ring to win a fight. The Rotherhithe community have definitely been in the ring. We’re proud of every single one of them that backed our campaign.
“For the Rotherhithe public to pull up £30,000 in these unprecedented times of global pandemic is a phenomenal achievement.
“Our campaign has definitely pulled the Rotherhithe community closer together, and we want to take this opportunity to thank every single person that donated to our cause in any way.”
There are fears that shade from the large building due to be constructed on plot K1, in Roberts Close, could kill the award-winning butterfly sanctuary in Stave Hill Ecological park, and cast the playgrounds of Alfred Salter and St John’s Catholic primary schools into shadow.
The Canada Water Masterplan has also been criticised for segregating social housing from private housing.
Some residents were angered at the response of Rotherhithe Labour councillor Bill Williams, who tweeted: “Great news the #CWMasterplan JR was dismissed in the High Court today.
“Hope nothing else delays the building of affordable homes and the creation of new jobs on this site. Local community now needs to see real progress #Rotherhithe #CanadaWater #SE16.”
Mr Cornish said: “Bill Williams should be embarrassed by his poorly timed tweet so soon after the decision went against the very Rotherhithe Community that had raised £30,000. We treat his ill-timed tweet with the contempt it deserves.”
Mr Cornish and the wider members of G7 – which includes the nature reserves, schools and residential associations hit by the development – are committed to working with the developers moving forward.
Residents in the area previously fought a similar development by Barratt Developments, delaying construction and winning major concessions in court.
A spokesperson for British Land, said: “We welcome the decision of the High Court. We will now continue to work with Southwark council and other local partners to deliver the Canada Water masterplan which will support around 20,000 jobs and provide 3,000 new homes, at least 35% of which will be affordable.”
Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for climate emergency, planning and transport, said: “This decision means work can progress as planned to bring forward an exciting new town centre that is set to deliver thousands of new homes, particularly hundreds of much needed new social rent homes. A brand new leisure centre, new open spaces and new jobs and opportunities for the local community are also outlined in the first phase of plans which can continue ahead without delay.
“We recognise the concerns raised by some local people about aspects of the redevelopment and we will continue to work closely with all parties involved to ensure residents have confidence in the ambitious plans for the area.”
Pictured top: Protesters say the development will cast the playgrounds of Alfred Salter and St John’s Catholic primary schools into shadow
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