Big week for the shopping centre

Dear Friend

Next week is a big week for the shopping centre.  Mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to deliver his decision on the shopping centre planning application tomorrow, after Southwark Council referred their decision to approve Delancey’s plans to him at the end of November.  He can either approve, direct refusal or take over the decision himself.

Sian Berry AM has written to the Mayor, asking him to call the decision in – read more here.

The planning application for Castle Square is also going to planning committee on Tuesday .  This the tempororay relocation facility for the traders and is welcomed – but it is too small and there are many outstanding issues, such as length of leases and rent, which have not been resolved with the traders.

Delancey must get approval of the Castle Square application before it can proceed with the redevelopment of the shopping centre, so please join us to support the Traders on Tuesday – 6pm, Southwark Council HQ, 160 Tooley St SE12QH –  read more here.

Regards
Jerry

PS We raised £1800 at the Up the Elephant Party last week – 180 people attended – thanks to Distriandina, DJ Gloria, DJ Fulvio, Arch 7 traders, Elephant Traders Association, Latin Elephant, Southwark DCH, Southwark Notes and everyone who helped organise a great evening.

 

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35% Campaign update – Elephant shopping centre – decision day

Elephant shopping centre – decision day

Dec 08, 2018 12:00 am

Mayor’s verdict due on Monday

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 still object to Delancey’s inadequate boxpark application here.

You can also join us to make some noise at a demonstration this coming Wednesdaywhen the Council’s planning committee decides on the boxpark application: 6pm 12 December 2018, Southwark Council head office, 160 Tooley St SE1 2QH

https://www.facebook.com/events/747582068976611/


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35% Campaign update – Castle Square – Delancey responds

Nov 24, 2018 12:00 am

Small progress but still not enough on traders’ temporary premises -Since our last blog on the Elephant & Castle shopping centre saga, over 100 objections have been made to the temporary boxpark proposals for traders on Castle Square.

In response, Delancey has submitted a two-page document covering rent levels, tenancy agreements, service charges, selection criteria, hours of operation, access and the relocation fund. There is now a reconsultation on the planning application proposals.

One clear improvement has been made – the facility will now have lift access – but otherwise Delancey does little more than restate its previous position.

There will still be no affordable retail units, but Delancey claims that the proposed rents are “discounted in excess of the requirements of the Elephant & Castle SPD”.

Delancey also states that traders will be given first right of refusal to the temporary units at Castle Square and units will not be let to others until Delancey receives refusals in writing.

However, the overall size of the boxpark facility is still only 492 square metres and there is no increase to the relocation fund of £634k.

There is also still no agreement with the traders on any of these and the other issues such as the trading hours, service charges and selection criteria.

Moreover, the Traders Panel has only just got off the ground, with no traders yet appointed to the Panel.

Until this happens none of these issues can be said to be settled and the “robust relocation strategy” that Mayor Sadiq Khan is asking for will not be achieved.

Many of our readers have previously submitted objections. We have drafted a revised objection in light of the minor revisions submitted by Delancey.

We must ensure that the traders get the best possible deal, whatever happens; they need the temporary facility, but it must be better; if you would like to help achieve this, please submit an objection using our online objection form.

Join our party!

The Up the Elephant Campaign in support of the traders and for more social rented housing at the Elephant is also holding a Campaign Party on this coming Friday 30 Nov – a night of of Latin beats with DJ Gloria (Exilio) to raise funds to pursue a legal challange to Southwark Council’s granting of planning permission for the shopping centre scheme – further details and tickets available here.

Links: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Up-the-Elephant-1117314135042279/events/
https://twitter.com/uptheelephant_
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35% Campaign update – 11000 new council homes: figures show loss rather than gain

Nov 12, 2018 12:00 am

Southwark demolishing and selling off council homes faster than it’s building them –

In 2014, as part of its manifesto pledge Southwark Council’s administration announced an “ambitious but realistic plan to build 11,000 new council homes” across the borough over the next 30 years. Concerns were raised by us and in the local press that this would fail to make up for the thousands of council homes currently being lost to ongoing estate regeneration, void disposal policies and Right to Buy applications over the next 30 years.

Extract from an Oct 2014 article in the local newspaper

Council leader Peter John subsequently issued an open letter insisting that the 11,000 council homes would be over and above the existing stock count – i.e. a net increase:

Extract from Council leader Peter John’s open letter

Councillor John went one step further to pledge that the first 1500 net additional council homes would be finished by 2018:

Extract from 2014 Cabinet report

Four years on and we have taken a look at whether Councillor John has delivered on his manifesto pledge. Official statistics from the government’s live tables on local authority dwelling stock show that since the manifesto pledge in 2014 there has been a net reduction in Southwark’s council housing stock of 476 council homes.

Extract from the government’s Live Table 116

The figures aren’t saying that Southwark hasn’t built any new council homes, only that the rate at which is building has not kept up with the rate at which it is knocking them down and selling them off. The Council has or will demolish over 7,500 council homes as part of regeneration schemes, including 1200 council homes in the Heygate estate regenerationand circa 2400 on the Aylesbury estate.

In addition, it has sold 1300 council homes under the Right to Buy since 2012 and has an ongoing policy of selling every council home that becomes vacant which is valued at £300k or more.

Meanwhile, this 30th Oct 2018 Cabinet report confirms that the council has built just 262 council homes over 5 years (para 12).

The Cabinet report confirms that an additional 239 units of developer-built (S106) affordable housing have been bought by Southwark, to become council housing (para 17). One such example is Blackfriars Circus, where the Council has bought 56 homes for £10m from developer Barratt.

A problem with this method of buying council housing is that it does not actually increase the net supply of social housing – the same units would otherwise have been bought and let by a housing association anyway. Further, Southwark is denying itself the benefit of the S106 contribution, by paying for something a housing association would have paid for anyway – and, rather perversely, denying itself funds for building units that would actually increase the net supply.

It is also not clear whether all the new homes have been let at council rents. We have blogged previously about new ‘council homes’ now being let at a percentage of market rent (40%) rather than social rent (which is currently approx 20% of market rent).

In any event, 112 of these new ‘council homes’ are temporary accommodation units in hostels (Willow Walk – 75 units, Good Neighbours House – 37 units) and are let at LHA rent levels, which are more than twice current council rent levels.

Even if we do count all these new homes as council homes at council rents, the short and long term trend is clearly one of an ongoing decline rather than net increase in the number of council homes: