London Mayor Sadiq Khan has decided to approve the £2billion plans for the redevelopment of the 75-year-old decaying Elephant & Castle shopping centre.
His decision paves the way for developers Delancey to go ahead with the scheme, which will take 10 years to build and make them, according to their figures, a profit of £153million.
The development would mean the removal of more than 100 traders and the construction of 116 ‘social rented’ homes out of a total of 979 flats
But protesters say the new project only has room for 33 independent traders and does not guarantee future space in the completed development.
If the Greater London Authority had rebuffed Southwark council’s permission, granted in July, a public inquiry would have been held, chaired by a planning inspector, delaying the final decision for more than a year.
But the GLA Stage 2 report is expected in the coming days. The Stage 1 report last January warned: “That Southwark Council be advised that, whilst the scheme is strongly supported in strategic planning terms, the application does not yet fully comply with the London Plan.
“The applicant is, nevertheless, strongly encouraged to maintain its proactive engagement with existing leaseholders at the site, and to work with Southwark council to progress the detail of the proposed business relocation strategy.
“The viability of this build to rent scheme will be independently reviewed in order to verify the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing in line
with London Plan Policy 3.12 and the draft Affordable Housing planning guidance.
“The applicant is, nevertheless, encouraged to explore
options for further activating/enlivening windowless sections of the shopping centre
building along Newington Butts and Walworth Road.
“The proposal would significantly improve the accessibility of Elephant
and Castle town centre – including access to homes, jobs, leisure and educational space, as well as the public transport interchange.
“There are detailed transport issues to resolve with respect to: Northern Line ticket
hall and highway stopping up; public transport impacts; car parking; pedestrian
permeability/wayfinding; cycle connectivity and cycle parking; servicing, vehicular access and waste; demolition and construction management; taxis and private hire vehicles; infrastructure protection; and landscaping.
“The resolution of the matters could, nevertheless, lead to the application becoming compliant with the London Plan.”
Tanya Murat, from Southwark Defend Council Housing, said last week: “The councillors on the planning committee should never have approved this scheme. We are going to fight it all the way, using every method at our disposal including legal action and political pressure. We are calling on the GLA to listen to our community. It’s not too late to sink this social and ethnic cleansing scheme.”
A spokesperson for Delancey said: ‘’We have continued our constructive dialogue with all stakeholders since Southwark Council’s Planning Committee approved the new Town Centre plans in July this year and have now reached final agreement on all legal agreements and procedures going forward. This discussion has been with the existing traders, Southwark Council, local ward councillors and the Greater London Authority. This has built a positive consensus and we are pleased to see the Mayor’s decision to refer the matter back to Southwark Council for its own determination.”
Delancey said the final deal would include
•All of the 161 discounted market rent housing, within the overall 330 affordable homes (also including 116 social rented and 53 London Living Rent homes,) will be available to households earning up to £60,000.
•The 10% affordable retail space, offered in first priority to existing independent traders wishing to return to the town centre, will be discounted for a period of 15 years, 10 years more than existing Southwark policy.
•An independently chaired Trader Panel has been established to oversee the fair and proper process around trader relocation. Within the terms of reference for the Trader Panel, we have confirmed that the relocation fund of £634,000 should not be regarded as, or mistaken for, a hard cap. The figure was originally agreed with Southwark Council as its best estimate of likely compensation to cover the reasonable costs of relocation. The terms of reference of the Trader Panel now set out a clear transparent framework for assessing and overseeing compensation claims. As such, the developer has confirmed that any genuine claims assessed through this proper process, that result in the current fund being exhausted, will be treated on a fair, transparent and favourable basis.
The spokesperson added: “We remain committed to moving forward to deliver our plans for a new town centre that supports the existing economy and community, allowing them to thrive, whilst still encouraging new people to visit, live, learn and work in the area. We have been working closely with local stakeholders for nearly 5 years on these proposals, which include new public spaces, safer pedestrian routes and a new Northern Line entrance and ticket hall. This will sit alongside a brand new campus for UAL’s London College of Communication, an expanded retail and leisure offer, grass roots cultural venue and 979 mixed tenure homes on a site where none currently exist.
“Integrating a dynamic mix of shops, that includes independent and local businesses, will be central to achieving the vision for a vibrant and different Town Centre. The Latin American community has a long standing history in the Elephant and we will continue to work hard to protect this community and their businesses, as well as other nationalities and all age groups, in the future Town Centre.
“We know that many people remain deeply concerned about how we will bring about this change. We face a significant challenge in the delivery of this project over a number of years. As ever, our reputation will need to be hard earned in the long-run. We would like to reassure the community and other interested parties that we take this responsibility extremely seriously. We will work tirelessly with all stakeholders and neighbours to manage the interim period sensitively and collaboratively. We will deliver a new Town Centre that we will all be very proud of in the end and will continue with an open dialogue as we progress with the plans.”
Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for growth, development and planning, said: “We have always pushed for as much affordable housing as possible on this site and committed to do everything we can to support the existing traders. We welcome the Mayor’s decision and the enhancements announced by City Hall, which will mean increased support for traders.
“This is a complex scheme that will create a vibrant, new town centre, which is a key part of the wider regeneration of Elephant and Castle bringing new homes, jobs and opportunities to the area.
“We will continue to respond to the concerns raised by some local residents about aspects of the regeneration, and work with our residents, businesses, local councillors and Delancey to ensure the new development works for local people. For the businesses it has been agreed that 10% of the retail space across the sites will be affordable and Delancey has guaranteed a £634,000 tenant relocation fund to support traders. The council is currently working with traders on the principles that will inform this funding.
“In addition, the council itself will provide new affordable retail at Perronet House and Arch Street, in addition to the affordable space already being provided by Lendlease and Delancey’s phase one developments.
“We know this is still a very difficult time for people directly affected by this significant change and the council will continue to work with the businesses to support them and help them not just find a new home but also grow and thrive in it.”
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