Elephant & Castle shopping centre update

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After a traders' deputation to Southwark Council and well over 200 objections to the planning application, developer Delancey has amended its plans for the demolition and redevelopment of the shopping centre. The original plans had no provison for current traders, no affordable retail units and no social rented housing. Delancey's amendments include a draft local business support & relocation strategy, as well as more information about the affordable housing offer.

However, the application is not much better for any of these changes. At local community meetings organised by the Walworth Society and Elephant Amenity Network, traders described the relocation strategy as 'vague'. There will be a relocation fund to assist traders, but Delancey will not say how large it will be, nor who exactly will qualify for payments. Seven off-site units in the new Elephant Rd development are mentioned as alternative premises for traders, as well as unbuilt retail units at Lendlease's Elephant Park and garage areas underneath nearby council block, Perronet House, but this is nowhere near enough - Southwark itself has identified 45 'local operators', but there are many more, once kiosks, stalls and sub-leased shop units are taken into account.

Nor are there any proposals for either relocating the bingo hall and bowling alley or accommodating them in the new development. This is a serious omission. A new equalities statement notes that both the elderly and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds form a large part of the bingo hall's clientele and would be adveresly affected should the application be approved. Southwark's failure to ensure that the Aylesbury estate's BAME leaseholders were fairly treated led to the humiliating refusal of its compulsory purchase order application.

Elephant & Castle shopping centre bingo hall - used by up to 500 pensioners daily

Delancey's revised affordable retail offer is craftily-worded (10% on the west site of the development, 5% on the east site), but because there is only a very small amount of retail proposed on the west site, the total amount across the whole site is only 5%; half of the 10% minimum policy requirement. Delancey offers a cash payment in lieu, but doesn't say how much this is.

3% fake social rented housing

Matters do not improve with the affordable housing addendum. Delancey still refuses to include any proper social rented housing, but instead offers something it calls 'social rent equivalent', starting at £160pw, with a 3-year tenancy. Rents will rise with inflat ion, but with the prospect of further rises, should your income rise. It also looks as if 'social rent equivalent' will only be available to 'economically active' households; what these are is left undefined. Delancey proposes 33 'social rent equivalent' units out of a total of 979 new homes - 3%. This falls well short of the current minimum policy requirement at the Elephant & Castle, which is 17.5% social rented housing. In December Delancey submitted a confidential viability assessment to the Council justifying why providing 17.5% social rented housing is not financially viable. Despite its new transparency policy and despite repeated calls, Southwark has still not made this viability assessment public.

The remainder of the 'affordable' rented housing we will be at 'London Living Rent equivalent', £205 - £308pw, and affordable rent at up to 80% market rent, depending on income. 60% of the overall affordable housing will be for households with incomes over £60,000 pa and up to £90,000pa.

None of this is in line with the Elephant's current affordable housing policy, which requires half of the minimum 35% affordable housing to be social rented. Delancey should be providing 170 social rented units, instead of 33 fake social rent. Nor does the affordable housing offer meet the required amounts in the new, 'emerging' policy Southwark is trying to sneak through the backdoor, to help the likes of Delancey reduce their affordable housing obligations. Southwark has also vehemently argued against including affordable rent in local housing policy.

Delancey's true intentions, if they were ever in any doubt, have been flushed out by these planning amendments - to do as little as possible for local traders and create a social housing-free zone at the Elephant and Castle.

Southwark Council has the power to stop them, by refusing not only to grant planning permission, but refusing to even consider the application in its current form. Delancey needs to make provision for every trader to stay in the area and ensure that the bingo hall and bowling alley are integrated into their plans. It also needs to provide proper affordable housing, including the full amount of social rented housing required by policy.

Southwark also has compulsory purchase order powers that Delancey is relying on, if it cannot come to an agreement with the longer term leaseholders, including the bingo hall. Southwark must make it clear it won't do Delancey's dirty work and won't be seeking any compulsory purchase orders on its behalf while its plans don't comply with minimum policy requirements.

This remains a dreadful planning application, but it's not too late to object! You can write to:

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