London College of Communication in occupation again

Today the students from UAL London College of Communication re-occupied the LCC campus in Elephant and Castle. The action follows the campus occupation from 15th January.

The students protest against UAL partnering with international development company Delancey to gentrify the campus, Elephant and Castle shopping centre, and surrounding areas. Despite of UAL workers, unions, academics and students opposing the regeneration plan, the college plans to continue its cooperation with Developer. UAL are the key partner in Delancey’s development plan, and the campaigners hope that if they withdraw their support, the whole plan will fold.

Last Tuesday, Soutwark Council Planning Committee voted down, with majority 4:3, Delancey’s Elephant Development plan. However, councillors decided to postpone the full council vote on the plan and the decision on their ‘Reasons for Refusal’ to 30 January. In the meeting, UAL was pushing for the plan to go forward despite students and the local community’s objections. The students demand that UAL stop supporting social cleansing in Elephant and Castle and back out of the redevelopment plan immediately.

During the Planning Committee meeting last week, Natalie Brett, head of the LCC, declared that the development plan has 100% backing of their students: despite of over 100 UAL students turning up to protest the plan and a student occupation earlier in the week.

The occupants issued the statement in which they declare:

The plan is destructive and will harm the local community as it will see the 70, mostly BME-owned, businesses in the shopping centre turfed out. Many students at the LCC have close links with the local community and live in the area, but now UAL is risking all this.

As well as being disastrous for UAL’s standing in Elephant and Castle, this plan harms all students in London: housing plans like this one which provide negligible social housing contribute directly to rising rents in London making it more and more difficult for students to live here.

Teaming up with Delancey makes a mockery of UAL’s supposed commitments to ‘social justice’, ‘diversity’ and ‘engagement’. They are artwashing social cleansing.

We are demanding UAL:

  • Come out in opposition to Delancey’s outrageous and destructive plan
  • Push for majority social housing, more affordable rental units and a guarantee that the bowling alley and bingo centre will stay
  • Call for planning to be pushed back until proper effort is made towards genuine transparency and accountability and the meaningful involvement of residents and community groups in the plan.

(…) Every pressure will be placed on the councillors to sell out, skirt around the issues and tone down the reasons for refusal until all that’s left is a wet excuse for a refusal. If this happens, before we know it Delancey will be back with a proposal so subtly amended you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d just recycled the plan which was voted down on Tuesday night. We know from Delancey’s own public statement this is their plan.

Let’s make sure LCC remains the London College of Communication and not the London College of Gentrification.

Southwark Planning Committee rejection of Delancey and UAL Elephant and Castle development plan last Tuesday night was, without a doubt, a major victory. However, local campaigners believe that until the planning committee meets on the 30th to decide on the legal “reasons for refusal”, the meaningful defeat of these disastrous plans can not be celebrated.