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Bulletin No. 1, 7th July 2000


The aims of this document are to:

  • Develop a communications network of interested persons and organisations.
  • Enable constructive schemes for the use of the land to be debated.
  • Form an umbrella group to support the above activities.


Firstly thanks to all those who have indicated interest in the campaign.

Apologies for the length of the bulletin but this document sets out to show:

  1. Background - who I am, how I learned about Southwark Council's plans.
  2. What happened at public meeting on the 6th July - as a factual if brief summary
  3. Some comment as to my personal views on the current status.
  4. What should be done to build on the overwhelming interest shown at the meeting.
  5. Action requested from you as readers of this bulletin.

1. Background

My name is David Brunskill. I live at 25 Wolfe Crescent, SE16 6SF and have been resident in Surrey Quays since 1987. I am not a member of any political party.

I found out about the public meeting through Pauline Adenwalla - who is secretary of the Wolfe Crescent Residents Association. Pauline has been very active in making residents aware of the draft proposals and has already made submissions to the Council.

Whilst the Council did circulate a leaflet relating to the meeting the circulation was at short notice and coverage patchy. Local libraries and noticeboards for example did not have any posters advertising the meeting. The draft plans shown on the leaflet indicated a major, high density development including filling in Canada Water. The glossy brochure (not circulated generally but received via Pauline) showed the transformation of Canada Water into an urban centre of over 5 million square feet. This by the council's definition is bigger than Regent Street between Oxford Circus and Picadilly and was defined in a press article as substantially bigger than the Bluewater shopping development.

My concern was and is:

  1. The meeting

Was well attended with the 400 capacity conference room at the Holiday Inn full to overflowing. The meeting was opened by Councillor Steve Lancashire and consisted of :

The main points made were that this meeting was the start of the process. There would be extensive consultation and local residents views would be taken into account.

Chris Horn showed the whole area which could be developed. The Council's obligation to develop the phase 1 derelict land adjacent to Canada Water Tube station was set out. He then introduced a slide show presentation of information contained in the "glossy brochure" by Kelvin Campbell of Urban Initiatives, the council retained outside planning consultant.

  • Included the infill of Canada Water and destruction of the wildlife habitat
  • Envisaged Canada Water at the centre of excellent public transport links.
  • Showed the potential to build a major town centre with the best of modern urban design.
  • Changes in roads and transport links in the Surrey Quays peninsula were indicated but not in detail.
  • There could be a mix of retail, commercial, residential development possibly including quality leisure facilities but also high rise buildings.

It would be planned to be an area which would not be dead at night time but be safe and enjoyable as a place to meet, eat shop and work..

I cannot stress too strongly that the overwhelming view of the meeting was

  • To reject the high density town centre vision.
  • That under no circumstances should Canada Water be filled in or it's wild life habitat destroyed.


If some points have been missed out in consolidating the views of the meeting I apologise but here goes:

  • To look at one option - building a town centre - is not the right approach to the process.
  • Surrey Quays is outstanding in central London as an area which has parks, pleasant living space, is mainly low rise development and an ideal place to bring up a family.
  • Canada Water is an essential feature of the area. It is rich in it's wild life - many references were made to the nesting birds and the pleasure people have in walking past it to the tube or bus station.
  • The canals and water features (many of which are badly maintained) should be extended rather than built on.
  • Residents did not want an extensive set of high rise buildings.
  • There was acknowledgement that something has to be done with the land - why not look at a new secondary school, better library, social housing and other leisure facilities as well as waterfront cafés, bars, quality shops etc.
  • Rather than building a huge town centre that would attract traffic, every effort should be made to look at the way that traffic flows around the area and find ways of bypassing Surrey Quays. Please can we have a detailed traffic planning study in conjunction with any plans.
  • Lower Road could thrive if it could be linked to Canada Water
  • The shops in Albion Street and the approach to the Saint Mary's conservation area could be transformed if you could get into Albion Street easily from Canada Water Tube station.
  • What can be done to get rid of the "Decathlon" tin sheds
  • If we want big shops and night life the West End is only 15 minutes away.
  • Many people work elsewhere and have chosen to live in Surrey Quays because of the peaceful environment.
  • There are extensive shopping malls at Canary Wharf and a flagship, major development about to commence at the Elephant and Castle. Both of these are only a mile or so away from Canada Water. How would a duplication of theses centres be sustained?????
  • A number of councillors expressed views - in opposition to the plans and the way that the consultation had been handled so far.
  • Office developments have not been successful in this area. Many have been converted into residential use.
  • Our M.P. Simon Hughes regretted that he had only been able to join the meeting late. He commented that the additional secondary school decision was urgent and may need to be taken in isolation prior to finalising plans for Canada Water


Chris Horn, on being questioned, said that there are overall central government pressures to maximise use of land adjacent to major transport infrastructure points. Even at the end of the meeting he was referring to the need for a town centre.

It was clear that Councillor Steve Lancashire had welcomed the input.

In his view there are no plans on the table.

This is just the start of the process. There is no need to get up petitions now - the proper time to do so is when formal plans are tabled. He undertook to consult widely and would welcome formation of interest groups so that more detailed dialogue could take place.

The council will publish a newsletter - which will be open to wide ranging views and will consider establishing a Web Site.

  1. Comment

I don't think that the council were fully prepared for the level of opposition to the "Canada Water Second Wave Regeneration" proposals, the strength of the views or the competent and articulate way in which they were expressed.

The Canada Water development plans have uncovered a deep concern for the area - which hasn't had an issue of such importance to focus on since building began in "Surrey Docks" in the early 80's.

The meeting was adamant that all residents views should be taken into account. More importantly a fear, based on past experience, was expressed that the Council would ignore local opinion. My belief is that the Southwark Council can be influenced in the way that the Canada Water development project develops.

However whilst petitions, right now, are indeed probably not appropriate, determined action is needed to monitor the project at every step, build arguments in advance to protect the features that are felt to be important and raise the awareness of all residents to the issues involved. So how do we do it.

4. Next Steps

The immediate aim is to build up a communications network. I would hope that this could be a catalyst for extensive involvement of all residents.

However I think that to rely on Southwark Council Newsletter and Website management would be naïve. They have their interests in the context of the Borough of Southwark. We have ours. I would like to see the development of an umbrella group. To focus on the development issues.

It should have the capacity to issue it's own newsletters, liaise with the media, have it's own website, keep a register and circulate information to all interested parties in Surrey Quays. There should be extensive liaison and involvement with all associations in the area and input to our councillors and M.P., Simon Hughes.

5. Action Requested

Please let me know if, as well as being kept informed

David Brunskill

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