Protesters demand more social housing for Elephant & Castle

Campaigners have demanded university chiefs support their rejection of a multi-million pound regeneration scheme.

An array of 19 group opponents of Delancey’s scheme for Elephant & Castle want London College of Communication to back their call for changes to the scheme so there is:

  • more low-rent social housing
  • compensation of up to £250,000 for all relocated traders
  • a new home for a popular bingo hall, because it is an important affordable community hub.

The new plans by Delancey, which mean the London College of Communication moving across Newington Butts, will be debated by Southwark council’s planning committee tonight.

The protesters wrote to Natalie Brett, pro vice chancellor of the University of the Arts and head of London College of Communication: “We suggest these improvements to the scheme are paid for out of Delancey’s £153 million projected profit.

“Their plan does not bring tangible benefits to local people in terms of housing (or leisure), nor for existing traders and that is why we are asking for your support in putting forward these demands.

“It is questionable whether any of these businesses will be able to remain in the area due to the proposed development.”

Ms Brett offered to meet the campaigners in her June 18 response. She said Delancey’s proposals had made it more likely the London College of Communication could stay in Elephant & Castle.

She wrote: “The current proposals for affordable housing, the relocation strategy for traders, and leisure facilities have all moved forward materially from the original application. They are continuing to work with stakeholders on finding solutions to provide a positive outcome for all parties.

“The campaign’s lobbying has paid significant dividends and while this may not meet all of your aspirations, we believe that the proposal will offer many educational, cultural and economic opportunities for local communities.”

The firm appointed to find new premises for independent traders has called for a decision on the plans as soon as possible.

Colin Crooks, CEO of Tree Shepherd, which has been appointed by the council to help the traders affected, said:

“The one thing businesses crave is certainty, and [the vote] is a significant moment for the traders at Elephant and Castle. For the past year we have been working with all 27 of the independent traders in the centre and many of those in the market outside providing advice to keep their businesses alive if they have to leave, and others to re-locate. We have seen first-hand how this looming decision has impacted businesses’ cash flow and also caused so much stress and confusion.

“If planning [permission] goes ahead tonight, it’s essential that Section 106 and the final paperwork is completed quickly so the traders can finally put their plans into action and start to look forward. If the planning decision is not passed, we are entering yet another period of uncertainty, which throws many options into the air. We fear the traders may still be required by Delancey’s to leave next spring regardless, this time without any business support or relocation funding. If they are allowed to stay however, they are facing a future in a centre which has fallen into disrepair and requires substantial refurbishment to turn it into a shopping destination.

“Whichever way it swings, we would urge the owners to continue to support these long-standing traders, through support with re-location and advice, or investment to make the Centre sparkle again. Tree Shepherd will continue to support the traders for as long as we can.”

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