Shopping centre protest tomorrow

Dear Friend

Just a reminder that the shopping centre traders are sending a deputation to Southwark Council’s Assembly tomorrow evening, Tuesday 28 January.

We will be supporting them with a vibrant demonstration outside Southwark Council HO, Tooley St, SE1 2QH at 6pm – please join us!

These are the traders’ demands;

  1. that the shopping centre is not closed until every independent trader is relocated or receives financial compensation.
  2. that Delancey increases the relocation fund.
  3. that the rent and service charge costs of the relocation options are brought into line with each other.
  4. that the businesses in Arch 7 are fully included in the relocation strategy and can draw from the relocation fund.
  5. that the market traders around the centre are equally and fairly treated and that all traders get the benefit of rent reductions, until the shopping centre closes.
  6. that the independent business adviser, Tree Shepherd, applies the agreed criteria for the allocation of relocation spaces in a fair and transparent way.
  7. that the database of opportunities reflects what was agreed on the approval of planning permission.

    You can read more here

    Regards
    Jerry

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Copyright © 2020 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.

Shopping Centre stall and demonstration

Dear Friend

Please join us at our Up the Elephant campaign stall on Saturday, 25 January 11.30pm just outside the former Charlie Chaplin pub, on the New Kent Rd side of the shopping centre.

This is in preparation for our demonstration, in support of the traders deputation to Southwark Council’s first assembly meeting of the year on Tuesday 28 January, Southwark Council Head Offices, Tooley St 6pm – everyone who wants a fairer, inclusive regeneration at the Elephant is welcome.

We have also this week made an application for permission to appeal against the High Court decision to refuse our claim to quash Delancey’s planning permission for the shopping centre redevelopment. This was agreed at our last campaign meeting and is the first step in the process of appeal. David Wolfe QC (Matrix Chambers), Sarah Sackman (Francis Taylor Building) and Paul Heron (Public Interest Law Centre) continue to represent us – many thanks to them, as always. We will of course keep everyone updated on our progress.

Regards
Jerry

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35% Campaign update – Elephant traders still homeless

 

Elephant traders still homeless

Jan 20, 2020 12:00 am

Survey shows two-thirds of current traders have nowhere to go -As Delancey announces its intention to close down the E&C shopping centre, research by Latin Elephant has shown that only around 40 out of nearly 100 independent traders still operating at the centre have been allocated new premises.

Latin Elephant’s interactive map, accompanied by supporting evidence, narrates the decline in trader’s numbers, up to late spring 2019. Latin Elephant’s figures show that there were originally 130 independent traders operating in January 2018, of whom only around 40 will be relocated, if the relocation strategy continues on its present course.

How many traders?

The figure of 130 independent traders (ie traders with less than three outlets) was supplied by Southwark Council in January 2018 and later confirmed by officers at planning committee in July. These include market stallholders and businesses in Hannibal House, the office block above the centre, and all lie within the so-called ‘red-line’ of the proposed redevelopment area. Latin Elephant, with the assistance of petit elephant, then conducted its own survey in December 2018, just before the redevelopment was finally granted planning permission. This found only 97 traders remained indicating a loss of 30 traders over a few months.

In March 2019, Southwark responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, with a database of 79 ‘independent local operators’, eligible for relocation funds as defined by the legal agreement between Southwark Council and developer Delancey; Latin Elephant identified a further 21 independent businesses omitted from this list.

Latin Elephant also consider that 17 more businesses are excluded from relocation funding, simply by the wording of the legal agreement. These includes sub-tenants in Arch 7, on Elephant Road, and small traders in the shopping centre that rent their space through third parties, such as Forum CentreSpace Ltd.

In any event, in March 2019, Southwark confirmed that only 36 of the 79 ‘independent local operators’ had been offered a relocation unit.

Not enough relocation space

Even though Latin Elephant has voiced concerns about the shortage of relocation units on many occasions, both before and after planning approval, only 40 units are being provided on three sites. Latin Elephant identify 12 units in Perronet House, 8 in Elephant One, and 20 in Castle Square.

In addition to these sites Southwark claim that Lendlease’s Elephant Park development (formerly the Heygate estate) offers 1,350 sq m of affordable retail space, but this only equates to eight units, at most. To date, none of the Elephant Park units has been offered to traders affected by the shopping centre redevelopment, according to an FOI response to a Southwark Law Centre question. Thirty market pitches in East St market were also suggested by Delancey in its planning application, but these are nearly a mile away and have never been delivered.

Unfit database

Delancey has also a legal obligation to maintain a database of vacant retail properties and make it available to eligible traders. Even though Southwark Council says on its regeneration webpage that properties are in the borough and within one mile of the shopping centre, petit elephant found that as of June 2019 many did not meet these criteria. Moreover, many demanded rents between £50,000 and £100,000 per annum, which Latin Elephant has already submitted are beyond the means of small-sized businesses. The whole list of 54 relocation units in the database is here.

So, the best-case scenario is that less than half of all independent traders within the red line have been relocated to premises that might be more or less suitable for their businesses, with all other traders looking at options some distance away and/or too expensive.

Not enough money

Another obstacle to successful relocation is the cost of moving, fitting-out new premises and re-establishing the business. The relocation fund provided by Delancey stands at £634,700, with a vague commitment to an unspecified greater amount, after ‘all claims have been properly assessed’ and ‘taking into account genuine trader hardship’. This averages out at a £17,630 per trader, given thirty-six traders and a very modest £8,034, given 79 traders. In fact, the costs will of course vary, according to size and other needs. By way of example, one business was quoted £121,000 including VAT, for the fit-out works of a 65 sq m unit at Elephant Park.

Feeble enforcement from Southwark Council

The trader’ relocation strategy was inadequate from the start, with too little space to move to and too little money to do it with, but it has been made worse by ineffectual enforcement by Southwark Council.

The relocation process is effectively controlled by Delancey and, in the case of Elephant Park premises, fellow developer Lendlease. Both developers have obligations to provide affordable retail premises to shopping centre traders, under their respective legal s106 development agreements with Southwark Council. Southwark therefore has the power to take action if it thinks that these obligations are not being fulfilled. Traders complain that this is indeed the case, with shopping centre traders not fitting the retail profile required by Delancey and Lendlease for the new Elephant developments. Southwark Law Centre has taken up the case of one trader, refused premises because of the nature of their trade.

Even those traders who have been allocated space have justifiable complaints about its size, cost and position – all critical factors for successfully continuing business. In particular, there are complaints about Perronet House. Despite being owned by Southwark Council, who is thus the traders’ new landlord, both the service charges and rent will be higher there than those for Castle Square, the relocation site owned by Delancey. For example, the rent of a 26 sq m unit on the ground floor in Castle Square is £6,768 per annum, plus £2,256 of service charge (£8 per square foot), while Southwark Council offers a 25.7 sq m unit in Perronet House at an average of £7,645 over 5 years, with an ‘estimated’ service charge of £3,047 (£11 per sq ft).

What information does Southwark Council hold?

Several FOI requests have been made to Southwark, in pursuit of information about the traders’ relocation. The latest request is for information about which traders have succeeded in their relocation requests (thirty-six in number), those refused (28 in number), those who have left the Elephant and Castle, plus the 130 Elephant traders initially identified by Southwark, back in January 2018. Perhaps unsurprisingly this request has been refused, on the grounds that it would prejudice the commercial interests of unspecified third parties; an appeal has been made against the decision.

A bad tale continues

An Evening Standard article, enthusiastically endorsed by Southwark Council leader Peter John, tells the shopping centre redevelopment story that developer Delancey wants the world to believe in – new homes, new jobs, ‘funky street food’. Through their diligent research Latin Elephant and petit elephant tell a different story; one of neglect and broken promises. The independent traders, their families, customers and the social fabric they have built over many years is being pulled apart to enable Delancey and Southwark’s idea of a bright future.

But it is not too late for Southwark to partly redeem themselves – the traders need more space and more money for their relocation fund. Delancey (and Lendlease) are well able to provide it. Delancey’s anticipated profit from the shopping centre redevelopment is at least £137.1m.

The Up the Elephant campaign will be holding a stall on Saturday, 25 January 11.30pm just outside the former Charlie Chaplin pub, on the New Kent Rd side of the shoppin centre.

There will also be a demonstration, organised by the Up The Elephant campaign, in support of the traders’ deputation to Southwark Council’s first assembly meeting of the year on Tuesday 28 January Southwark Council Head Offices, Tooley St 6pm – everyone who wants a fairer, inclusive regeneration at the Elephant is welcome.


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Housing Repairs Survey

Dear All,

I’m writing to let you know about a new survey for tenants and leaseholders on Southwark’s housing repairs service. The survey is being carried out by Southwark’s Housing Scrutiny Commission.

The short survey can be found here:  https://consultations.southwark.gov.uk/housing-community-services-department-community-engagement-team/housing-repairs-tenants-and-leaseholder-survey/

The survey is designed to gather data and views about the repairs service since it came back in house in October 2018.

It would be particularly helpful if you could pass this link on to your own contacts who may be interested in providing feedback and by sharing on social media.

The objective of this cross party review is to make recommendations to the cabinet to assist in improving the repairs service for everyone who relies on it.  If you have any questions about the work of the Housing Scrutiny Commission, please just come back to me.

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas,

Gavin

Councillor Gavin Edwards

Chair Housing Scrutiny Commission

 

To the year ahead

Hello,

2020 is going to be a big year.

This year we celebrated 100 Years of Council Homes  and in 2020 the Homes (Fit for Habitation) Act will roll out to support all tenants and make sure their homes are fit for habitation – including warm and safe.
We are starting the year by addressing district heating breakdowns. On the 16th January we are running a session with local groups in partnership with Fuel Poverty Action so we can find solutions to district heating breakdowns.
There will be a follow up at our Group Meeting on the 22nd of January.

Are you experiencing district heating breakdowns?! Click here to invite me to your estate between the 6th – 15th January so I can talk to your neighbours over a cuppa ahead of our open session on the 16th January.

Start 2020 with something a little different… 
We have teamed up with Campaign Bootcamp to build community campaign skills.
From researching your campaign to organising your campaign this programme is there to help communities do something a little bit different – together. If you are interested sign up here!

We have a few other things up our campaign sleeves in 2020 which I look forward to sharing with you next month. Thank you everyone who has dedicated so much time this year. Many of you have signed postcards, posted through your neighbours letter boxes, spoken at public meetings and helped organise.

I will close with the Queen’s speech that she delivered this morning in parliament – happy listening.

Thank you all and enjoy your breaks and here is to a stronger 2020!

Rhiannon Hughes
Campaigns and Research Officer

Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations

Bells Gardens Community Centre,

19 Buller Close

London SE15 6UJ

Tel: 020 7639 6718/07932359410

Email: rhiannon@sgto.co.uk

website: www.sgto.org.uk