35% Campaign update – Elephant Park MP5 – the final chapter

Elephant Park MP5 – the final chapter

Aug 05, 2019 12:00 am

Final phase of Heygate redevelopment proposes increase in homes with decrease in affordable -Developer Lendlease has applied to build 220 more homes than consented while providing 29 fewer affordable homes than consented in the last phase of its redevelopment of the Heygate estate. This will bring the total number of homes to 2,689 of which just 92 social rent without the viability review envisaged in the original planning consent.

In its recently submitted detailed planning application for the last plot of the scheme (MP5/H7) for what is now known as Elephant Park, Lendlease proposes building 424 new homes. There would be 72 affordable units, made up of 37 shared-ownership, 20 affordable rent and 15 social rent.

This would take the total number of social rented units in the development to just 92 out of 2,689 in total, a figure that has crept up from 71 units since 2013 (plus a further eight on Trafalgar Place (Heygate Phase 1)). The overall affordable housing is broken down into 92 social rented, 167 affordable rent and 282 shared ownership.

 Figures for the total and affordable units proposed in planning documents for MP5, the final phase of the development

Lendlease now proposes that the completed development will total 2,689 homes. This is 220 more homes than the numbers agreed by the planning committee in January 2013, which agreed a development of between 2,300 (min) and 2,469 homes (max).

 Development description from planning committee report for outline consent, Jan 2013

While the number of homes proposed exceeds the number consented, Lendlease proposes a reduction in the number of affordable homes. Only 541 of the 2,689 homes will be affordable, 29 fewer than the indicative figure of 570 given to the planning committee in 2013.

The figure for the 570 approved affordable homes was given on page 9 of the 2013 planning committee’s addendum report (correcting a previous figure of 574).

Table 8.1 of the recently submitted Reconciliation Statement for the MP5 reserved matters application shows that only 541 affordable homes are now proposed overall.

 Extract from the addendum to the 2013 outline planning committee report

 Extract from Lendlease’s recently submitted application

Southwark fail to secure housing numbers

The increase from 2,469 to 2,689 total units on Elephant Park has been facilitated by an amendment to the original planning permission. This was made in November 2018 and changed the way the amount of residential space was calculated by replacing the minimum and maximum figures for residential units with floorspace figures. The floorspace figures remained the same as those approved by the planning committee (160,579sqm GEA {min} and 254,400sqm GEA {max}), but by removing the unit figures the amendment enables Lendlease to build more homes within the allowed floorspace.

It also transpires that the number of units to be built were not secured in the original planning permission, thus opening the door to the amendment, which was deemed ‘non-material’ and so was approved by officers and not referred to the planning committee.

Policy compliance

While Lendlease has not delivered the number of affordable homes expected by the planning committee, they are nonetheless able to say they are fulfilling the affordable housing obligation of 25% affordable housing. This is because the amount of affordable housing is measured as a percentage of habitable rooms, not units. The officer’s report to the planning committee noted that there were a relatively high proportion of larger affordable units. These are undoubtedly welcome, but do mean that there is just 20% affordable housing when measured by units.

Viability questions

At the time of the application’s original determination in 2013, a viability review was proposed in the event that the development was delayed, or a change of circumstances occured. No such viability review has occured to take into account Lendlease’s proposed increase in density or reduction of affordable units.

 Extract from the 2013 planning committee report

The increase in maximum units to 2,689 units with the 29 unit drop in affordable housing gives Lendlease about 190 more free-market homes than the planning committee was led to believe would be built. These have a rough estimated value of £80m, a figure that obviously cannot have featured in the 2012 viability assessment. This assessment was made on the basis of 2,462 units and concluded that the scheme could not provide 35% affordable housing and that only a very small fraction could be social rented.

No public funding?

The lack of available public funding was cited in the officer’s report as a factor that diminished the chances of a viable scheme delivering 35% affordable housing, when the application was originally considered.

This came with the reassurance that should public funding become available the affordable housing situation could be improved. There is no indication that this has happened through the duration of Elephant Park’s development, despite the Mayor Sadiq Khan having £4.6bn in his kitty.

Object to MP5 – fight for 84 more affordable homes

Lendlease’s detailed MP5 H7 application is almost the final chapter in the redevelopment of the Heygate estate and it allows us to evaluate what is being delivered, against what was said and what was approved by Southwark Council, back in 2013.

It is now apparent that while Lendlease will fulfil its reduced affordable housing obligation they intend to do so by delivering fewer affordable homes. Lendlease has also been granted a change in the permission that has allowed them to build many more units. The upshot is that Lendlease has about 190 more free-market homes to sell.

Southwark, on the other hand, has neglected to secure the number of homes to be built and is giving Lendlease the opportunity to build more, without getting any improvement in the affordable housing situation. There also appears to have been no effort to take advantage of any public funding.

This final Heygate application must be decided by the planning committee, not officers alone. It must ask why we are getting fewer affordable housing units than it was told to expect, while Lendlease are being allowed to build more units in total. The committee must also ask why there have been no viability reviews since 2013 and what has been done to improve the affordable housing.

Without a viability review, the planning committee must refuse planning permission. The very least Lendlease should do is increase the total number of affordable homes, back to the indicative 570 the planning committee approved, plus 25% of the additional 220 units it has gained over the original maximum build. This would give us a much-needed 84 affordable homes and half of these must be social rented, as Southwark’s housing policy requires.

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Comment: Dear Southwark Planning, This application (19/AP/1166) is pursuant to the outline planning permission granted to developer Lendlease for the redevelopment of the Heygate estate (12/AP/1092). This entailed an obligation to build 25% affordable housing. It is now apparent that while Lendlease will fulfil its affordable housing obligation they intend to do so by delivering fewer affordable homes than the planning committee were told would be delivered when they gave approval for the redevelopment. The committee was told there would be 570 affordable homes, while Lendlease now proposes to deliver only 541. Since permission was given Lendlease has also been granted a change to that permission that will allow them to build 220 more units than the original maximum. Southwark, on the other hand, has neglected to secure the number of homes to be built and gave Lendlease the opportunity to build more, without getting any improvement in the affordable housing situation. There also appears to have been no effort to take advantage of any public funding. This final Heygate application must be decided by the planning committee, not officers alone. It must ask why we are getting fewer affordable housing units than it was told to expect, while Lendlease were allowed to build more units in total. The committee must also ask why there have been no viability assessments or reviews since 2013 and what has been done to improve the affordable housing. There should be a viability review in order to reflect the increase in density and the planning committee must refuse planning permission, unless Lendlease increases the total number of affordable homes, back to the indicative 570 the planning committee approved, plus 25% of the additional 220 units it has gained over the original maximum build. This would give us a much-needed 84 affordable homes and half of these must be social rented, as Southwark’s planning policy requires. Yours sincerely,

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Shopping centre legal challenge next week!

Dear Friend

The hearing for our challenge to the shopping centre planning approval is just over a week away.

We will be holding a rally in support of the challenge on –
Wednesday 17 July 2019 –
9am – 10am, outside the Royal Courts of Justice
the Strand
London WC2A 2LL

The case will be then heard from 10am – it is open to the public, so all are welcome to attend!

We are fighting this case to get more social housing and a better deal for the traders at the Elephant. To do this we must first overturn developer Delancey’s gentrifying plans – that is why we are going to court.

Thanks to your help we have raised nearly £8,000 through our CrowdJustice appeal (donations still welcome!) and we have a great legal team.

But we need your support at the hearing too, to show Delancey that the local community is fed up and angry with bullying developers. You can read more here and, for Spanish, here.

So please join us on the Wednesday 17 July!
Regards
Jerry

https://twitter.com/uptheelephant_?lang=en
http://35percent.org/uptheelephant/
https://www.facebook.com/Up-the-Elephant-1117314135042279/

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35% Campaign update – Why we’re challenging the Elephant & Castle redevelopment plans in court

Jul 03, 2019 12:00 am

Southwark Council – demolishing council homes, generating better people

Twenty years ago, Fred Manson, Southwark Council’s Director of Regeneration laid out the aims of the Labour council’s new regeneration strategy in industry magazine, the Estates Gazette: “We need to have a wider range of people living in the borough” because “social housing generates people on low incomes coming in and that generates poor school performances, middle-class people stay away.” As the Gazette reported it, this was “part of a deliberate process of gentrification that will result in social housing being replaced by owner occupied dwellings and developers being given free rein to build luxury flats” 1.

Since Mr Manson’s 1999 anti-council housing manifesto, the borough has lost more than 13,000 council homes (see graph below) and the proportion of council housing had fallen from 60% of to 28% of housing stock by 2015. This is mainly the consequence of Right to Buy and void sales.

But council estate regeneration, Manson style, is also playing its part. The Gazette article mentions three estates south of Tower Bridge earmarked for demolition. At least eight others can be added, totalling 7,639 council homes and leasehold properties lost. The developments replacing these will provide over 11,000 new homes, but only 3,200 of them will be social rented and while Southwark does now have an council house building programme, it is still knocking down and selling off council homes faster than it is building them.

The proportion of social rented housing is even lower when other major schemes are considered. Analysis of the major schemes approved by Southwark over the last 15 years gives an average social rent component of under 4% out of about twelve thousand homes – well below the Council’s policy requirement of 25%. (Recent approvals of Old Kent Rd developments increase the overall percentage to 10%).

Nearly a thousand new homes, 116 social rented – (maybe)

The Elephant and Castle shopping centre redevelopment is no exception in this regard. A stone’s throw from the demolished Heygate estate, only 116 of nearly a thousand new homes will be offered as social rent (8.6% by floorspace), all to be built nearly ten years hence. Shopping centre owner and ‘specialist real estate investment and advisory company developer’ Delanceysaid that this was as much as it could afford to build, but we now know that with Mayor’s funding they could give us another 42 homes – still a modest amount, but almost enough to reach Southwark’s local plan requirement.

Whether there will ever be even 116 social rent units is also open to doubt. Leaving aside the fact that they won’t be built for nearly ten years, a long time by any measure, Delancey has the option of passing the obligation to build the homes back to Southwark, along with land and ‘sufficient funds’ to fulfil the obligation. We fear that the wording of the development’s legal agreement fails to properly secure this. We also believe that the wording of the legal agreement fails to provide an effective viability review mechanism – a basic policy requirement and a way to get greater affordable and social rent housing, should the development prove more profitable than expected.

As well as housing, the new development will provide about the same amount of retail space as there is in the present shopping centre, but catering for the more well-heeled customer other social-rent free developments are now drawing to the Elephant. The shopping centre itself will be demolished, which will destroy not just the shops of the many independent traders who have made the Elephant their home, including many ethnic businesses, but one of two major social hubs for the Latin American community in London (the other, in Seven Sisters, is under similar threat).

Concerted campaigning has gained some space for these traders in the shopping centre and other new developments, as well as a temporary relocation facility, but there is not enough space for every trader who wants it.Latin Elephant, a local charity and advocate for all ethnic traders in the area, reckons there are nearly a hundred independent traders in the area and, given the practicalities of moving a business and a limited relocation fund of£634,700 only a fraction of traders are likely to benefit.

Delancey’s anticipated profit from all of this is £137m or £148m, according to the last available viability assessments and depending on the grant funding situation. Delancey developments, at the Elephant, are based in off-shore tax-havens, with the shopping centre development registered in the British Virgin Islands.

We must have homes that meet local need

Delancey and Southwark argue that other elements of the scheme – a new Northern Line tube entrance and a campus for the University of the Art’s London College of Communication – provide positives that outweigh any negatives in the housing and retail offer. This is entirely in keeping with the regeneration rationale, as articulated by Fred Manson back in 1999, so successfully implemented by Southwark since then and now making a sizeable contribution to London’s disastrous housing situation – thousands of new homes that many, not just of the poorest, cannot afford to either rent or buy; housing costs for the poorest the ‘worst in Europe’ and a record number of rough sleepers.

From the moment the shopping centre planning application was made over two years ago, Southwark Council has been content to take whatever Delancey has offered, regardless of local need, in pursuit of its wretched gentrification agenda. It has been local campaigners, with the support of some local councillors, who have fought hard over the past two years to squeeze housing concessions and a better deal for shopping centre traders out of the development. We must now fully secure the maximum social rented housing, and not have to wait nearly ten years for them. 42 extra social rented homes are not that many, the London Mayor has the money to pay for them and we are determined that they should be built. We also want a better deal for traders – more space and more money for relocating.

That is why we are challenging Delancey’s planning permission through the High Court. We want the permission quashed and then we want a development scheme at the Elephant and Castle that provides homes and shops that are truly affordable for local people.

If you agree with us, you can help in this fight by donating here or coming to support us at the High Court on Wednesday 17th July.

Footnotes:

  1. Estates Gazzette article published 13 March 1999 

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