Local Pressure Derails Developer Plans for Elephant and Castle

A Planning Committee meeting to sign off the redevelopment of Elephant and Castle shopping centre by developer company Delancey has been postponed until the new year due to pressure from local residents and traders.

Over 1000 people planned to attend a protest outside the meeting due to be held on Monday 18th December, and the petition against it launched by one of the local traders gained 300 signatures within one day.

Local campaigners have been told that University of  the Arts London (UAL), working in partnership with Delancey, was keen to speed up the application process and secure its sign off before Christmas. The underhand timing of the proposed meeting prompted an upsurge in local objections, with 100 more lodged within a week, in addition to more than 200 already submitted. The meeting also drew opposition from student and educational unions at UAL, who consider the current application as undemocratic and discriminatory, as it ineadequately mitigates the impact on local communities and fails to meet existing sicial housing policies. The unions call on the committee to “reject the application as it is not policy compliant and will destroy the fabric of the community of which London Collage of Communication staff and students are a part.”

The proposed plan involves the demolition of the shopping centre, incuding 140 years old Coronet Theatre, and replacing it with a mix of housing and retail units. The developer will also build a new campus for the London College of Communication. LCC would move from its present campus, allowing that land to be incorporated as part of the redevelopment scheme. Delancey failed to say what will happen to the current shopkeepers and stallholders, who depend on the centre for their living and provide a valuable service to the local community.

Delancey refuses to include any proper social rented housing in its investement. It instead offers something it calls “social rent equivalent”, starting at £160pw, with a 3-year tenancy. Rents will rise with inflation, but with the prospect of further rises, should one’s income rise. The “social rent equivalent” will only be available to “economically active” households, however, the developer fails to explain what that means. Delancey proposes 33 “social rent equivalent” units out of a total of 979 new homes – 3%. This falls well short of the council’s current minimum requirement in the area, which is 17.5% social rented housing. In addition, only 5% of new retail units will be made affordable for displaced local traders.

In recent years, Soutwark council approved similiar re-developments in the area: it now has a pipeline of  6228 new homes, of which only 82 will be social rented.

The proposed development, if approved by the council, will be managed offshore with no local accountability and £154,000,000 projected profit for Delancey.

The new planning meeting was scheduled for 16th January and will be met with protests from local campaigners.

Sources: 35percent.org, Up the Elephant

Image: Southwark Notes