BY CALUM FRASER
Furious campaigners are calling on the London Mayor to step in after a multi-million pound regeneration project was given go-ahead by town hall chiefs.
Jerry Flynn, a representative of the 35 per cent campaign group, has written a letter to Sadiq Khan asking him to call in the decision to demolish and regenerate the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in Southwark.
The campaign group represents residents who are unhappy at the level of housing available for social rent in the developer’s plans, and that more than 100 traders will be turfed out of their stalls.
Mr Flynn said: “The proposed scheme will change the face of the Elephant and Castle. If it goes ahead it will uproot an entire community who have built their lives around the shopping centre over decades.
“The shopping centre has become London’s most important social hub for people from Latin America.
This has come about by the local community’s own hard work and by its own hand. The proposed scheme threatens to destroy this.”
Around 130 small business traders occupy 4,000sqm inside and around the shopping centre.
If developer Delancey’s plans go ahead, the space available for traders will be reduced to 471sqm.
In the face of more than 900 objections, Delancey’s plans were given the green light by Southwark council at a planning committee meeting on July 3.
The development would see nearly 1,000 new homes built, of which 11 per cent would be affordable and 74 to 116 at social rent level.
Mr Flynn said: “The scheme promises to build a new campus for the London College of Communication and a new Northern line Tube entrance.
These would be very welcome benefits, but they should not come at the cost of uprooting an entire community and by sacrificing desperately needed affordable housing.”
In the Mayor’s draft London Plan he aims for 50 per cent of all new homes delivered across London to be affordable. A spokesman for the Mayor’s office said: “The application to redevelop the shopping centre at Elephant and Castle will now go before the Mayor for him to consider on its merits.
“Therefore it is inappropriate for him to comment further at this stage. However, he believes that local businesses and communities must be taken into account in all development proposals for the capital, and that any application must support appropriate levels of genuinely affordable housing.”
A spokeswoman for Delancey said: “We are committed to moving forward to deliver a new town centre that supports the existing economy and communities and allows these to thrive, whilst still encouraging new people to visit, live and work in the area.
We know we face a significant challenge in the delivery of this project.
We take our responsibility towards the local community extremely seriously and know our reputation will need to be hard earned in the long-run, and that reassurances need to be given.
We appreciate the shopping centre has been a part of the community for almost 60 years, and that there are sensitivities that need to be carefully handled and managed, however, the building is now at the end of its economic life, necessitating change.
“Following the Planning Committee’s resolution to grant planning consent, we are continuing our conversations with businesses in the shopping centre, local stakeholders and elected representatives.
This is just the beginning of a process and we will be continuing to work hard with the community, listening to questions and concerns, to help us deliver a number of local initiatives such as the trader relocation panel, delivering temporary retail on Castle Square for existing traders during construction and providing first priority for the traders to return to the new town centre on completion.
“We are also going to be creating a Pastor Street advisory group and the Latin community hub in the second phase of the development, with the intention of helping the Latin American community strengthen its roots in the area.
This collaboration will continue throughout the life cycle of this project, to ensure everyone is given as much information and support as possible during this period of change.”
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.