Work has begun on the demolition of Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre, paving the way for a £20 million replacement on the site.
The clearance of the old centre is also a preparation for the One The Elephant development, which will include 284 homes, shops and enhanced public spaces as part of the wider £1.5 billion regeneration of the area.
Although the leisure centre closed its doors for the last time in June, progress on clearing the site was delayed by the discovery of an ancient burial site during pre-demolition surveys.
Southwark Council leader Peter John said the start of works was “an exciting time” for the borough.
“It marks not only the start of a new, up-to-date leisure facility for residents but the beginning of the overall regeneration of the area, both of which are highly anticipated and long overdue,” he said.
"The centre will provide first-class facilities for local people and will draw others to the area when it completes.
“We'll soon be able to see the physical signs of the new leisure centre taking shape on the ground; just another sign of the area's exciting and rapid transformation."
The new leisure centre has been designed by John McAslan and Partners and specialist sports architects, S&P.
It is expected to open in autumn 2014.
"We've already surpassed one degree of global warming," said Kristen Buida, manager of the London Climate Change Partnership.