Estate Watch: A new resource for communities going through estate demolition

Over 35,000 homes on London council estates are earmarked for demolition.

Launching today, Estate Watch is a new website seeking to ensure tenants and residents have the information, tools and resources to fight their corner.

Click here to visit the site and explore the map.

As of 2018, councils and housing associations seeking Mayoral funding to knock down and replace their existing stock with more than 150 new homes must first seek majority resident support through a ballot.

Even so, 44 such schemes across London have been exempted and the Mayor appears to be overlooking landlords conducting ballots on terms that go against his guidance. This despite the Mayor’s Estate Regeneration Guidance, which was supposed to give council tenants and leaseholders a better deal.

Tenants must be fully informed and have meaningful choices before we get to a ballot. We’ve joined with Just Space to establish Estate Watch in part because of concerns that that is not happening.

The new website provides tenants with key facts, tools and case studies to fight their corner and to try to engage on more equal terms in discussion about the future of their homes and communities.

This includes research by academics at University of Leicester (UOL) and Kings College London (KCL) showing that long term uncertainty, depression and displacement were common experiences among both tenants and leaseholders undergoing demolition.

To sign up for Estate Watch mailing list updates, click here and scroll down.

#EstateWatch Online Conversation

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

To mark the launch of the website, we are encouraging tenants and leaseholders who are going through or have been through demolition to share their experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #EstateWatch

How has your life been affected?

Did you feel listened to?

Were you offered a meaningful alternative to demolition?

Wednesday 24th June @ 10am Q&A WITH LORETTA LEES 

From 10am to 11am next Wednesday, we’ll be hosting a live Twitter Q&A session with Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Leicester and lead researcher on regeneration and gentrification. Please join us then using the hashtag #EstateWatch @LorettaCLees and @londontenants or @justspace7

Not on Twitter but got a question for Loretta? Email zoe-comms@londontenants.org with your question beforehand and we will put it to her on your behalf.

How you can help

It’s rare for councils and housing associations to provide their tenants and residents with the full facts about demolition, so it’s important that we share that information ourselves.

Do you live on or near a council estate threatened with demolition or know someone who does? Please forward on this email or share a link to the website on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #EstateWatch.

Have we missed something? Estate Watch is an ongoing project with limited resources. Please help us keep the website up to date by emailing info@estatewatch.london with updates or corrections if you spot a gap.

Please forward this email to your neighbours, friends and contacts.

Thank you.

London Tenants is a company ltd by guarantee, reg in England/Wales No 08155382

Our registered company address is:
82A Godwin Court, Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1NW

Stop demolitions and requisition empty homes!

Dear Friend

I hope you have been keeping well during these difficult times.

The Up the Elephant campaign has been working with Latin Elephant and Southwark Law Centre, to help shopping centre traders through the Coronavirus crisis and with their relocation plans. According to Southwark Council 45 traders have now been relocated, with 28 applications rejected. Traders can also draw on two funds – the relocation and transition funds – and Latin Elphant and SLC have been doing great work helping traders with this.

The campaign has also joined with eighteen other groups to send an open letter to Southwark demanding that it Stop demolitions and requisition empty homes to help solve the housing crisis.

There will also be a socially distanced protest to open up empty homes this Thurs 4 June 6pm, outside Pret a Manger
One the Elephant, 1 St Gabriel Walk, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SA
FB Event here

This is a socially distanced protest. Please bring a mask or face covering and stay 2 metres apart.

Regards
Jerry
PS We will be having an on-line meeting very shortly – notice and link to follow.

image

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2020 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

Elephant Amenity Network

18 Market Place
Blue Anchor Lane

LondonSouthwark SE16 3UQ

United Kingdom

image

35% Campaign update – Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

May 01, 2020 12:00 am

Berkeley Homes threatens to reduce affordable housing at Malt St –Berkeley Homes is the first developer in Southwark to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in one of its schemes, since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis. Berkeley secured planning permission for the Malt St development, just off the Old Kent Rd, in June 2019, with a promise to build 40% affordable housing. Since then it has joined-up with Peabody, who had a smaller, neighbouring development on Nyes Wharf. Together the two sites will provide 1,569 new homes, with 40% affordable housing (359 at social rent and 222 shared-ownership), delivered by Peabody.

Now a planning committee briefing reveals that this affordable housing is at ‘risk’ because Berkeley intends to mount an appeal that will reopen the question of the viability of the scheme. To prevent this happening, the briefing recommends approval of an unprecedented clause in Southwark’s s106 planning agreement with Berkeley, that could see all the affordable housing lost, should development partner, [Peabody] hit financial trouble.

The Southwark Law Centre has written to the planning committee, objecting to the proposed clause and requesting a deferral, to allow the serious issues it raises to be properly addressed.

Why a Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause matters

The planning committee is being asked to approve a so-called Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause. Simply put, if a borrower cannot pay their mortgage, then the lender can take legal possession of the property and sell it – they become the ‘mortgagee in possession’ and up until now this has evidently been covered with a clause that keeps the affordable housing affordable ‘in perpetuity’ .

The MIP clause proposed for Malt St is different – it will not secure the affordable housing ‘in perpetuity’ , should Peabody fail. Instead, Southwark or another affordable housing provider would be given the option to take on the affordable housing, but if they do not, the affordable housing can then be sold onto the open market. If Southwark does buy the affordable housing, they would also have to pay anything outstanding ‘under the terms of the relevant security documents, including all accrued principal monies, interest and costs and expenses’ 1.

The MIP briefing is at pains to point out that such a situation is very unlikely to arise, because Peabody is in rude financial health; it has an annual turnover of £630m, an annual profit of £160m and assets of £7.6bn, so the possibility that it will fail is remote. The briefing reinforces the point by noting that no major housing association has ever gone into administration and quotes a GLA document that says ‘there is no known cases of a MIP clause being triggered…..’ 2.

Mayor of London opens the door…

This all begs an obvious question – why replace a MIP clause that protects affordable housing, in all circumstances, even unlikely ones, with a clause that does not?

Part of the answer is that this is what the Mayor of London wants. As Southwark’s briefing explains it, the Mayor wants ‘a consistent approach to MIP clauses across the London boroughs and to secure greater access to funding for RPs (registered providers) to increase the delivery of affordable housing’. The report continues; ‘In order to achieve this, the GLA MIP clause would allow, in certain limited and unlikely circumstances, affordable housing to no longer be “in perpetuity”’ . The briefing notes that Southwark’s own MIP clause is different from the Mayor’s, precisely on this point; Southwark does require affordable housing to remain such ‘in perpetuity’ , should a RP go into administration 3.

Peabody takes advantage

Peabody also wants the GLA MIP adopted, because it would allow them to borrow more money for other projects. To quote the briefing ‘Peabody have funds to deliver this scheme, but given the very large scale of the investment they are only willing to make such a commitment on the basis that they are able to secure additional funding in the future against the asset of the completed scheme’ . The report says that while the Malt St scheme is ‘entirely financed by Peabody from its own investment’ Peabody nonetheless wants more private bank finance and needs to make more of its ‘capital assets’ and the banks consider that the affordable housing ‘asset is not sufficiently liquid’. The briefing reiterates ‘Peabody has confirmed that they cannot proceed as the RP [registered provider] partner in this scheme without this clause’ 4.

Berkeley turns the screw

Berkeley backs Peabody, saying that it cannot, or will not, proceed without them. Berkeley goes on to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in the scheme, if the GLA MIP clause is not agreed, by way of an appeal to the government of ‘non-determination’. Berkeley would argue that Southwark had failed to conclude the s106 legal agreement in the required time, and also reopen the question of the viability of the scheme 5. Berkeley has a track record for such manouvers; this 2018 Guardian report shows that Berkeley has reduced its affordable housing obligations using viability reviews in almost all of its London schemes.

Southwark’s briefing tries to make the best of things; as well as emphasising the unlikelihood of any default, it claims that this decision will ‘not therefore set a precedent for other schemes.’ The Mayor has different ideas – he wants to see his MIP clauses used across London and says they will be used for anything he ‘calls-in’, (such as the Biscuit Factory) and that he ‘will promote their use for other schemes that are referable…and non-referable’ ie basically everything 6.

What we think

A Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) s106 clause that has evidently been perfectly adequate up to now is to be changed, compromising the ‘in perpetuity’ principle of affordable housing. The Mayor hopes that this will help meet his strategic 50% affordable housing target, but Peabody and Berkeley are not proposing 50% for the Malt St site. More generally, the Mayor has published no concrete commitment from developers and registered providers to increase affordable housing, in exchange for the Mayor’s more market-friendly MIP.

So, while it would be easy for Southwark’s planning committee to approve the clause in the almost sure knowledge that it will never be triggered and the affordable housing will remain as such, ‘in perpetuity’ , they should nonetheless reject the Mayor’s new MIP clause. It purports to facilitate a general increase in affordable housing, but there is no evidence before the committee that this will actually happen, either in Southwark or elsewhere. On the other hand, though, the Mayor’s MIP will definitely weaken the ‘in perpetuity’ status of affordable housing

This is the thin end of a very long wedge. These clauses have already been used in Islington, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth. They are being actively promoted by the GLA and the Mayor. Once they proliferate the whole principle of affordable housing being for ‘in perpetuity’ will start to be lost and developers and their registered provider partners will use the same kind of ingenuity that they have used with viability assessments to squeeze real affordable housing out of London 7.

The briefing and its recommendation, will be considered by the planning committee meeting on Monday 4 May, the first to be held online.

Footnotes:

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing on Facebook

image

Support Shopping centre Traders not Delancey

Dear Friend

We are in the midst of a public health crisis which has impacted severely on people’s lives and livelihoods, forcing shops and businesses across the UK to close. The position for the Elephant shopping centre traders was already serious, with over half having nowhere to go, come the scheduled centre closure in July – now their situation is acute.

A survey conducted by SE1 website forum found that 72% of people wanted the centre to remain open beyond July. In response developer Delancey says that it still intends to go ahead with closure on the 31st July, but pledged that essential food and pharmacy facilities would remain available, if needed.

This is not good enough. All the remaining shopping centre traders need support now if they are to survive.

Southwark Council are due to assume Compulsory Purchase Order powers on behalf of Delancey, at their reconvened Cabinet meeting, this coming Tuesday. With these powers behind them Delancey’s hand in negotiations with remaining leaseholders and stakeholders will be strengthened. Southwark should not be helping Delancey to build a development that puts small traders out of business and does not give us the social housing we desperately need. 

Instead we call on Southwark Council to support the traders. We welcome its recent promise of £200,000 and now call upon them to release this money immediately as cash grants to traders.

We also maintain our demand that the centre is not closed until all the traders have been properly relocated or suitably compensated.

Please share these hash tags;
#supporttradersnotdelancey
#supportelephantnotdelancey

You can also find Up The Elephant on Twitter & Facebook.
You can read more on the 35% Campaign blog.

Regards
Jerry

image

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2020 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

Elephant Amenity Network

18 Market Place
Blue Anchor Lane

LondonSouthwark SE16 3UQ

United Kingdom

image

35% Campaign update – Council to remove remaining shopping centre traders using CPO powers

Council to remove remaining shopping centre traders using CPO powers

Mar 23, 2020 12:00 am

Council to approve compulsory purchase of shopping centre traders and buy LCC/shopping centre sites -In an extraordinary move Southwark Council is poised to ‘buy’ both the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and the London College of Communication from current owners, developer Delancey and the University of the Arts London (UAL). It is also excercising Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers over the shopping centre site, on behalf of Delancey’s British Virgin Islands registered offshore subsidiary1.

The CPO powers are needed because Delancey has failed to reach agreement with 11 of the remaining shopping centre traders who have secure tenancies and several other so-called third-party ‘interests’ including land owned by Transport for London and arches owned by Network Rail/Arches company. 2

The additional purchase of the shopping centre and LCC land is part of a legal manoeuvre, vesting ownership in a public body, that will override the rights of residents in surrounding homes whose daylight will be affected by the redevelopment of the two sites. A leasing arrangement will allow both sites to return to Delancey and UAL once the CPO process is complete. 3

Southwark say that both measures will ultimately result in no cost being incurred to itself (except for officer time plus a proportion of any public inquiry costs) with Delancey indemnifying all other costs, but no figures are provided in the three publicly available reports detailing the purchase arrangements and the indemnity agreement has not been made public. Decisions on both measures will be made at a video-call Cabinet meeting tomorrow – Tuesday, 24 March.

Will the scheme ever happen?

The main justification for the proposed measures is to ensure the success of the development. Council officers advise that if they are not adopted Delancey may meet delays and will not secure the ‘enormous funding’ the scheme requires and then the site could lie empty for years.

Despite this concern, officers are nonetheless so personally convinced that the development will ‘likely’ go ahead, that they are not requiring a guarantee from Delancey that it will proceed with the scheme after Southwark has cleared the site with its CPO powers. The CPO report says ‘it is not necessary to impose… an obligation to build the Scheme as the measures negotiated for inclusion in the indemnity agreement give the Council comfort that EC is likely to proceed with the Scheme.’ 4

The contrast between Southwark’s favourable treatment of Delancey, (a property developer rooted in offshore shell companies) and the neglectful manner it has treated traders who have made the Elephant their home is also laid bare. Under CPO legislation Southwark is required ‘to exercise its power…in a manner which, so far as practicable, secures that relevant occupiers of that land are provided with a suitable opportunity to obtain accommodation on the land in question.’ 5

This hasn’t happened; such relocation benefits as there are (eg the £634,700 relocation fund, the £200k New Home Bonus Fund) have been won by the traders and local campaigners and owe little to Southwark Council’s efforts. Even with these gains, 60 traders still have no new premises and those who do will be re-housed off-site, with only some (those in Castle Square) having the smallest possibility of ‘accommodation on the land in question’. Just last week the BBC ran a feature on the plight of the remaining traders.

Southwark has always had the power

By Southwark’s own account the scheme may well not go forward unless it exercises CPO powers, because Delancey is unwilling to bear the risk of the uncertainty created by its absence, given its ‘enormous capital investment in the Scheme’ and in addition ‘any prudent funder of the Scheme is also unlikely to fund the Scheme whilst that uncertainty persists’6

Southwark therefore has had a great deal of legitimate leverage. It was clear when Delancey first submitted its planning application for the shopping centre’s redevelopment back in 2016, that there was little intention of retaining resident traders in the new redevelopment. When Delancey described the traders as ‘benefiting from disproportionately low levels of rent’ and unlikely ‘to survive….over the longer term’7 Southwark should have made it clear then that any anticipated use of CPO powers would be dependent on fulfilling the requirement that ‘relevant occupiers’ ie the traders be given the opportunity to stay in the new development.

As it is, it looks as if Southwark intends to sacrifice trader’s interests, again, in favour of Delancey, just as it sacrificed those who depend on social rented housing, when it granted Delancey planning permission, without securing the minimum amount required by its own policies.

The coronavirus risk

Southwark’s attempts to indemnify itself against any mishaps in its CPO arrangements with Delancey includes, amongst other things, a requirement that there be a ‘reasonable prospect of the development of that area being delivered in a reasonable time frame’ 8.

Any sensible person, or local authority, must now see that this is unlikely, given the coronavirus crisis and it multi-dimensional impact. Southwark should at the very least defer consideration of exercising CPO powers and the purchase of the shopping centre and the LCC sites, on any terms. At the same time, Southwark should use its resources to maintain and improve support for the traders and insist that Delancey do the same, if it wishes to have the benefit of Southwark’s CPO powers at some time in the future.

Footnotes:

  1. According to Southwark, Delancey is not the developer, but rather the advisor to the so-called ‘Triangle Partnership’, which is a partnership between the Dutch pension fund APG; Qatari Diar and Door SLP (a joint venture involving Delancey’s DV4 offshore property fund). There are further partnerships within this Triangle, detailed in the Report: E&C CPO para 12. Southwark refer to the developer as Elephant & Castle Properties Co. Limited (“EC”) registered offshore in the BVI. We continue to refer to the developer by the commonly known name of ‘Delancey’. 
  2. See paras. 80, 59 Report: E&C CPO 
  3. See paras. 1,2 & 12 Report: E&C Property Rights 
  4. See para 76 Report: E&C CPO 
  5. See para 81 Report: E&C CPO 
  6. See para 57 Report: E&C CPO 
  7. See 8.7 Planning Statement 
  8. See para 74 Report: E&C CPO 

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Council to remove remaining shopping centre traders using CPO powers on Facebook

Elephant Activism Week

Dear Friend

It’s Elephant Activism Week!

We’re calling on all supporters to join us this week for a bout of activism!

1 Doorstep Delancey!  Developer Delancey will be updating the Southwark Empowering Communities North West Area Forum on the Elephant and Castle shopping centre redevelopment this Thursday.

6:30pm-7:15pm Thursday 12 March, Outside Amigo Hall, St George’s Cathedral, Lambeth Road, SE1 7HY (intersection with St George’s Road).
FB Event here

This is a rare opportunity to DOORSTEP DELANCEY! We are demanding that the shopping centre is not closed, until all the traders are properly relocated (many still have nowhere to go) or suitably compensated.

We will be doing a photo opp and leafleting outside Amigo Hall as people go into the meeting, which starts at 7pm. More details are on the Southwark Council and SE1 Community websites.

2 Love the Elephant Film Night: “Why do Elephants keep developing?” 

Join us at 55East for an evening of solidarity to raise funds for the shopping centre Judicial Review Appeal. Emile Scott Burgoyne’s updated documentary, Why Do Elephants Keep Developing? exposes the dodgy deals and offshore billionaire backers behind the Elephant and Castle regeneration. The film showcases our many local heroes; our protests, parties, celebrations, victories and defeats.

6pm-9pm Friday 13 March, 55East, 53-63 East St SE17 2DJ 
Tickets from Eventbrite here (donations)
FB Event here

3 Share and donate! We have raised a fantastic £2,375 in our new Judicial Review Appeal, in just six days! Please help us push on to our £3,000 target by sharing and donating – any amount big or small!

Regards
Jerry

image

Twitter
Facebook
Website
Copyright © 2020 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved

35% Campaign – Elephant Park – planning committee misled?

Elephant Park – planning committee misled?

Mar 01, 2020 12:00 am

Lendlease fails to declare public funding for affordable housing -Developer Lendlease failed to disclose at Last week’s planning committee meeting that it was in receipt of public funding, which could have increased the amount of affordable housing at Elephant Park (aka the Heygate estate regeneration).

The meeting was called because of the large number of objections to the final phase (H7 MP5) and the lack of additional affordable housing. We explained in our previous blog how Lendlease have met their 25% affordable housing requirement, while increasing the total number of homes, but without increasing the number of affordable homes or proportion of social rent (3%).

One of the objections, from the 35% Campaign, was that “There appears to have been no effort to take advantage of any public funding”. Southwark responded by saying: “There is no obligation on Lendlease to seek public funds.” (para 282, 283 of the officer’s report)

The planning committee followed this up in their cross examination of Lendlease, who were asked directly by Cllr King whether they had considered applying for grant funding:

 See video clip of committee meeting on youtube here.

In a lengthy reply, Lendlease did not disclose that the Mayor had in fact committed to fund Elephant Park, back in September 2018.

Elephant Park is the very first entry on a list of estate regeneration projects on the Mayor’s website, which have had funding approved since July 2018.

This gives rise to a number of questions:

  1. Why did Lendlease not say that they had received funding when the question was asked?
  2. Why were the committee members not told that Lendlease has received funding in the committee report?
  3. How much money has Lendlease received from the Mayor?
  4. Why has the affordable housing offer not been improved?

We suspect that the answer to this lies in the murky world of viability; Lendlease insisted in 2013 that only 9.4% of the new homes could be viably provided as affordable.

They repeated this at the planning committee meeting last week and would no doubt argue that any money they have received from the Mayor has gone to bridging the gap between what is viable and the 25% being delivered.

Whatever the merits of this argument (and we think it has none) it still leaves open the question of why Lendlease and the officers report did not disclose the grant funding to members.

There is a similarity here to the ongoing dispute about affordable housing in the shopping centre development. Developer Delancey claims that the £11.24m it is also receiving from the Mayor is being used to increase the amount of social rented housing. We showed previously how it was going to Delancey’s bottom line:

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Elephant Park - planning committee misled? on Facebook

35% Campaign update – Elephant Park – final phase, final windfall for Lendlease

Elephant Park – final phase, final windfall for Lendlease

Feb 21, 2020 12:00 am

Last phase of Heygate regeneration set for approval with increase in number of homes but no increase in affordable. -We blogged last year about the final phase (MP5 H7) of the Heygate regeneration.

Lendlease’s application for 424 new homes (15 social rent) in this final phase is now set to be approved by the Council’s planning committee on Monday.

If approved without a viability review it will seal an increase in the number of new homes beyond that approved by Southwark’s planning committee back in 2013, without any increase in the number of affordable homes. This will result in a total of 2,689 homes (220 more than approved in 2013) of which 92 will be social rent.

 Extract from the 2013 Outline application Committee report

This windfall gives Lendlease the revenue of 220 extra homes that were not included in the original viability assessment of the scheme, which was based on 2,469 units. This allowed Lendlease to build 25% instead of 35% affordable housing and to reduce the required amount of social rented homes to next to nothing. Taking account of the 220 extra homes could have improved both the viability of the whole scheme and the affordable housing offer.

Reviewing viability

We noted in our previous blog that Southwark has neglected to carry out any viability review. Monday’s planning committee report reiterates this, stating: “The council has no mechanism to insist on a viability review” (para 129)

However, this looks to be contradicted by the terms of the Regeneration Agreement between Southwark and Lendlease, which provides a mechanism for the affordable housing mix to be reviewed on an annual basis.

If these annual reviews had been taking place it should have been reflected in higher levels of social rented housing. The fact that the tenure mix hasn’t changed suggests that they haven’t.

Grant Funding

We also noted in our previous blogpost that the 2013 planning committee anticipated that the regeneration could benefit from public funding if it became available.

 Extract from the 2013 Outline application Committee report

This was in line with the Regeneration Agreement, which also obliged the parties to seek grant funding:

Such funding has been available since 2016 when Sadiq Khan announced a £4.6bn funding programme, but despite the 2013 planning committee’s intention and the Regeneration Agreement’s obligation, Lendlease has made no funding application.

Also, despite this clear contractual obligation, Southwark nonetheless states in Monday’s committee report for the final phase“There is no obligation on Lendlease to seek public funds.” (para 283)

Given the clear obligation on Lendlease to seek grant funding, we say that until Lendlease does so Southwark should reject this final phase application.

Southwark should also reject the application unless Lendlease commits to a viability review. There are a number of reasons why this is necessary. Not only was the original viability assessment based on fewer homes than the number actually being built, but also the free-market homes are being sold for twice Lendlease’s viability assessment estimate.

Another significant change to viability since the original assessment has been Lendlease’s recent decision to let, rather than sell homes in the later phases of the scheme.

Monday’s planning committee should also take account of Policy 3.12 of the Mayor’s London Plan, which says that “The maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing should be sought .. having regard to .. individual circumstances including development viability, {and} the availability of public subsidy.

The Elephant Park development lost Southwark 1,200 council homes. This final phase is Southwark Council’s last chance to (partially) redeem itself by insisting Lendlease abides by its obligations, reviews the viability of the scheme and applies for grant funding.

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Elephant Park - final phase, final windfall for Lendlease on Facebook