BY TOBY PORTER
Campaigners will mount a protest carnival on Tuesday to demand a £1billion regeneration is blocked once again
An alliance of housing groups will gather at Southwark Town Hall for the second time in two weeks to insist the refusal of Delancey’s plans for Elephant & Castle be honoured.
A block on the development of almost 1,000 homes and a new shopping centre was voted through at a stormy meeting in Tooley Street on January 16. The main campus of London College of Communication (LCC) would also be moved across Newington Butts under the scheme.
The plans, which would mean the demolition of the shopping centre and all its shops, plus the Coronet, its bingo hall and the Charlie Chaplin pub, come up again at a new planning committee because the last one did not give the reasons for refusal.
The campaigners fear pressure will be put on councillors to back down from their decision or some minor changes to the plans will be made in order to gain consent.
The carnival, called by campaign group Up the Elephant, is backed by a range of groups including Latin Elephant, LCC students and staff unions, Southwark Notes, Defend Council Housing and users of the bingo hall inside the shopping centre.
There will be a game of bingo and dancing outside the council offices before the planning committee starts.
Tooley Street was closed for an hour either side of the January 16 meeting.
The plans would replace the 1960s shopping complex with a mix of housing and retail units with three per cent of new homes at social rent “equivalent” levels – or just 33 homes out of nearly 1,000 in total.
Also, 10 per cent of new retail units would be made affordable for displaced traders but with no right to return.
Campaigners to hold protest carnival to ensure councillors back original decision
Jerry Flynn of the 35% Campaign, which demands all housing developments have 35% social rent, said: “We need to see a lot more than 33 social rented homes, out of nearly a 1,000, in any approved development.
“They must also have proper tenancies, not just ones for three years – public housing must be secure. We must also have much stronger guarantees that the affordable housing won’t be sold off in the future, and onto the open market.”
Tanya Murat of Southwark Defend Council Housing said: “This proposal is the last in a long line of social cleansing applications in our borough, and it is also an attack on the Latin community, BAME and elderly residents”
A spokeswoman for Delancey said: “We know change is never easy and know people are fighting for issues that matter, but one development unfortunately cannot deliver all things to all people, and we do genuinely believe that as part of a complex regeneration programme, our proposals offer significant benefits for a huge range of people living, working and learning at the Elephant.
After last week’s meeting, Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We respect the vote of the planning committee not to approve the application.
“We understand the strong feelings of many local people, particularly regarding affordable housing and business space, as these are priorities that the council shares. We remain committed to finding a solution for a new shopping centre and home for UAL’s London College of Communication that works for everyone.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.