Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is due to make a decision on the Elephant shopping centre planning application on Monday, 10 December. Southwark resolved to approve developer Delancey's proposals back in July, after fierce opposition and three planning committee meetings. Southwark referred the decision to the Mayor on 29 November, when it sent him the legal s106 agreement, which seals the application; he can either approve, direct refusal or take the decision over himself.
The Mayor has said that he will demand a 'robust relocation strategy' for traders displaced by the centre's proposed demolition and redevelopment. He has also said that he will be subjecting the affordable housing offer to 'rigorous scrutiny' and be addressing unresolved transport issues.
Relocation strategy and Castle Square
The relocation strategy is listed as Appendix 10 to the s106 (although titled Appendix 9) and was only published on Friday, 7 December. It outlines how traders will be assisted, but they take issue with the document's claim that they have been consulted on its contents (9. Trader Consultation). The Trader Panel has not yet been established and the temporary relocation facility at Castle Sq has drawn many objections, for its small size, design, opening hours, leases and rents. As the Latin Elephant objection points out these issues could have been resolved though the Trader Panel, had it been set up more promptly.
According to the terms of the S106 agreement, Delancey must obtain planning permission for a temporary boxpark before it can proceed with the redevelopment of the shopping centre and this will be decided by Southwark's planning sub-committee B on 12 December.
The S106 agreement
Aside from the relocation strategy other notable aspects of the draft S106 include no mention of increasing the social housing offer, above the 116 units Delancey has already committed to build, if it receives a GLA grant. Delancey claimed to the planning committee that it had an 'in-principle agreement' for the funding, but this claim has been challenged by campaign groups.
There also remain several points on which Southwark and Delancey are not in agreement, including the target profit on the residential element of the scheme - Delancey wants 17.5% GDV, Southwark says 12.5% GDV is a more appropriate profit level (pg 39, footnote). This could be significant for getting more affordable housing; if the target is exceeded, half the extra profit should go to Southwark, so it benefits from the lower figure.
Page 60 of the S106 agreement ('Eligibility Review') also details the complex arrangements for extending the London Living Rent and other so-called affordable, discounted market rent tenancies, beyond their 3-year terms. Tenants who are fortunate enough to see their salary increase during their tenancies may also find much of it going to Delancey, if they jump into a higher band of rent payment - or maybe not, depending on what other affordable units are available at the time. While Delancey is bound to maintain the affordable housing ratios, final decisions on how to do this are left in Delancey's hands.
Sadiq Khan must reject this scheme
The shopping centre traders are the people to judge whether or not Delancey's proposals for trader relocation are 'robust', as the Mayor has demanded; but the Trader Panel has not been set up and has had no opportunity to discuss the relocation strategy, yet alone amend or improve it, so this test has not been passed.
There are also unanswered questions over any GLA funding for social rented housing; will Delancey get the funding and if it does, will it increase the amount of social rented housing or just use it to subsidise the 116 units it has already committed to build?
The Mayor also needs to take a close look at the head-scratching arrangements for extending so-called affordable rent tenancies, beyond their 3-year terms. They are a recipe for confusion and mismanagement and will leave tenants vulnerable and insecure.
The case for Sadiq Khan 'calling-in' this application is strong, for the sake of shopping Centre traders, the local community and all future residents and the call-in is supported by Sian Berry AM amongst others. Delancey's scheme does not deserve to be approved and should be rejected.
You can also join us to make some noise at a demonstration this coming Wednesday when the Council's planning committee decides on the Castle Square application: 6pm 12 December 2018, Southwark Council head office, 160 Tooley St SE1 2QH