Southwark Council has voiced its strong opposition to proposals to use Chambers Wharf for the Thames Tideway Tunnel superseder. The council has set out its objections in its first formal response to the Planning Inspectorate on the impacts of the proposal.
“We strongly believe that Chambers Wharf is the wrong site for such a disruptive, major piece of construction like the Thames Tideway Tunnel,” said Cllr Peter John, Labour leader of the council.
“The proposed location is in the heart of a heavily residential area and very close to three of the borough’s schools. The round-the-clock noise, vibrations and traffic pollution caused by the construction work will blight the lives of these residents and children for years not to mention create significant safety concerns, making living and learning around Chambers Wharf an absolute nightmare.
“Any consultation by Thames Water has been ineffective and flawed at best, and at worst dismissive of the council’s genuine concerns. There has been a lack of information available on how the route of the tunnel and the affected sites have been chosen along with a lack of real opportunity for those affected by the proposals to influence site selection. Furthermore, Thames Water has failed to respond to our concerns about the potential impact of this project on our residents.
“In our opinion, there are better alternative solutions for the construction of the tunnel that would have significantly less impact than the proposals at Chambers Wharf. We will continue to oppose plans until we have achieved the best possible outcome for our residents.”
In a response on behalf of the Southwark Liberal Democrat council group, Riverside councillor Anood Al-Samerai said: “The impact of the proposals on our residents would be enormous – with six years of work, including 90 lorry movements a day and round the clock noise for the first three years, it would be impossible for them to carry on with their lives as normal.”
Councillor Eliza Mann added in her own response: “There are 150 residential properties in very close proximity to the proposed site, mainly on the nearby Dickens Estate which is home to 800 residents, all of which would be very badly affected by the plans.”
Three mature plane trees on Rotherhithe New Road are likely to be felled, says Southwark Council.
The trees, which the council says are encroaching on the pedestrian space on the public highway, could be felled after adjacent landowners refused to sell the council a small plot of land to enable the pavement to be widened.
“I am extremely disappointed that the only course of action available to the council is to remove these trees from the local community,” said Cllr Peter John, leader of the council.
“Not only are they great for the environment but they add a unique vibrancy. We would not normally fell healthy trees of this age but in this case we have no option. Sadly the landowners have refused to cooperate in helping us to resolve the situation so our hands are tied.”
Whilst the council has pointed the finger at the Residential Management Group, the firm has responded on Twitter:
— RMG Ltd (@RMGltd) January 7, 2013
Three replacement new trees will be planted in a nearby location.
Lib Dem councillor Graham Neale said: “I have suggested that the pavement is built out into the road to make room for the trees rather than removing the wall, which could save the trees from the chop and improve the road at the same time.
“The pavement opposite is more than wide enough to provide a ‘chicane’ traffic calming system. This is a chance to start managing roads in a way that puts pedestrians and cyclists at the front of road management in our borough.
“Instead of listening to alternatives, Labour have decided to chainsaw the trees which date back to Dr Salter. After all the warm words and phoney consultation we’re back to Plan A, which is to take the easy option and get rid of the trees. How many times must we listen to hollow promises?
“Residents and campaigners have spent a lot of time and effort trying to save these trees. It’s a waste of our time, and a waste of a great opportunity, but I’m afraid that’s the way Labour are running Southwark.”
Video shot by Bermondsey Sub-Aqua Club last weekend: