New park and hundreds of homes to be built on Canada Water site

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A new park, Tesco and hundreds of homes will be built at a former dock despite one resident claiming the area’s redevelopment had reduced it to a “puddle”.

Plans to build a park bigger than a football pitch surrounded by 384 homes and a new Tesco supermarket in Canada Water in Rotherhithe were approved by Southwark councillors on Tuesday of last week.

The new homes would be built across five buildings arranged around the park on a plot of land currently occupied by an Odeon cinema, Hollywood Bowl, Pizza Hut and parking spaces on the Surrey Quays leisure park.

A CGI of planned park at Canada Water, with flats surrounding it (Picture: Southwark council)

The proposals were approved unanimously by a council planning committee made up of four Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat.

But speaking at the meeting, ex-docker and resident Barry Duggan blasted developer British Land for failing to adequately reference the history of Canada Dock in the park’s design.

He said: “There’s nothing in there depicting the history of this area. When you look at the planning permission that’s been granted so far and look at Canada Water, that’s become a puddle with a wonderful deck going through it.

“There’s a big past here but it’s not in this park. Until we start realising there is a history I’m afraid it’s just gone, we’re gone. We may as well not be in it.

“Once you’ve signed this off you’ve signed away the past because there’s nothing there to depict the past.”

A CGI of buildings as seen across the planned park at Canada Water (Picture: Southwark council)

Mr Duggan went on to brand developer British Land’s attempts to incorporate the dock’s history into the proposed park “laughable,” adding that he had spent three hours speaking with staff from the company about ways to include references to Canada Dock in the plans.

Arianna Ricciotti, from British Land, said the company had consulted with “numerous local groups” about the design of the park and had incorporated more of the site’s history into the plans based on the feedback.

These references included “marking the former dock head with inscriptions, and using the dock as a reference for informal play features,” she added.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, chairman of the planning committee, said he was “impressed” that play equipment in the planned park referenced the history of the nearby Printworks building, but added it would be “good to see more of the dock’s legacy” in the design as well.

In response to these concerns, councillors agreed to add a condition to the plans about including features in the park that referenced the history of the docks.

The new Tesco planned for the site will replace the current store in Surrey Quays shopping centre.

The plans include 532 basement parking spaces for customers of the supermarket and those visiting the wider Canada Water area.

The five blocks of flats surrounding the park will range from six to 30 storeys. Of the 384 planned homes, 89 will be available at the cheapest social rents and a further 45 will be shared ownership homes, where a person buys a share of a property and pays rent on the remaining amount.

The remaining homes will be sold privately at market rates.

British Land’s planning advisor said the company was struggling to find a company to run a cinema on the site, but was continuing its search for a new operator.

British Land’s multimillion pound grand plan for Canada Water will see an area the size of 40 football pitches redeveloped over a decade. The Canada Water Masterplan will create up to 3,000 new homes, offices for 20,000 workers and a new town centre for the area.

Canada Dock was built in 1876 and took its name from the country of origin of much of the cargo on board ships making use of the dock. By the 1980s, most of the dock had been filled in, with the bulk of the site covered by Surrey Quays shopping centre.

Pictured top: An aeriel view of the Canada Water site as it looks today (Picture: Southwark council)

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