35% Campaign update – The Elephant traders who face the end without new homes

Latest blog update on regeneration in Southwark
The Elephant traders who face the end without new homes
Sep 22, 2020 12:00 am

Only 40 traders ‘found new premises’ as centre closure looms -Shopping centre developer Delancey and Southwark Council have mounted a desperate defence of their failed trader’ relocation strategy, with a joint statement claiming that all qualifying businesses have been relocated or offered relocation options ‘without question’. The centre is due to close on Thursday.
The very same joint statement reveals, however, that only 40 traders have actually been found new premises through the relocation process, a fraction of the approximately 130 independent businesses identified in January 2018 by Southwark, as operating at the Elephant 1. Much of the rest of the joint statement is a lengthy account of how this much larger figure has been was reduced to just forty traders through the relocation process. The statement also outlines ‘options’ available to the unfortunate traders who have nowhere to go and makes self-justifying excuses for this miserable outcome.

The joint statement also attacks what it calls ‘uncorroborated statistics’, which show that at least 40 traders will have nowhere to go when the centre closes, and online ‘misinformation’. This is clearly aimed at the Up the Elephant campaign, including the 35% Campaign and, in particular, Latin Elephant, who have worked tirelessly to support the traders.
Latin Elephant has issued its own rebuttal, noting that Delancey and Southwark have now themselves admitted in the joint statement that only 40 traders have been found new premises, ‘leaving about 40 traders who have been trading at least since January 2019 (as per the s106 agreement) without alternative premises’. Latin Elephant’s rebuttal also includes links to all the supporting research evidence on the fate of traders, through the regeneration process. This research names the independent businesses, maps their location and gives relevant dates.
Who gets to be eligible?
As Latin Elephant explains, while 130 independent businesses were recognised by Southwark as operating within the red-line of the development in January 2018 (the date of the first hearing for the shopping centre planning application), Delancey and Southwark take only 79 ‘eligible’ businesses as the base-line in their account of the relocation process, excluding many long-standing businesses. Delancey and Southwark then whittle the 79 ‘eligible’ businesses down to forty businesses, in successive stages– 64 applications received, 61 valid, 40 found new premises. (Southwark has acknowledged on its website that there are 33 eligible traders remaining without a relocation offer, but that is not mentioned in the joint statement).
The ‘options’ for those not awarded premises are to search for somewhere else themselves, through a commercial premises database. If they do not find anywhere, they will receive payments of around £8000. The inadequacy of these ‘options’ hardly needs stating. The database has been a constant source of frustration to traders, who have criticised it for being out of date and listing premises that are simply too expensive and too far away. An £8000 payment is also very little compensation for the loss of a livelihood, built up over many years and a long way short of what is needed to re-establish a business; one of our previous blogposts has the stories of traders of up to 20 years standing who are in this situation.

No commitments
Delancey and Southwark’s joint statement also takes pains to say that there was never a commitment to relocate all the traders. This is shamefully true – it is to Southwark’s great discredit that it ignored evidence from Latin Elephant that this situation was bound to arise, because there was only half the space required for a proper trader relocation in Delancey’s redevelopment plans, but Southwark went ahead and approved the plans nonetheless. Notwithstanding the lack of a formal commitment, Southwark still created the impression that all traders would be accommodated; when asked directly by councillors at the planning meeting for Castle Sq, one of the relocation sites, whether ‘given all of the different site…does that cover…enough sites for all of the current number of traders…..How many short would we be roughly?’ council officers replied ‘…across the piste there should be sufficient’. By their own testimonies traders also confirm that they have been strung along with false hopes of relocation space throughout the relocation process.
Stall-holders do it for themselves
Faced with the loss of their businesses the market stallholders who occupy the ‘moat’ that surrounds the shopping centre have banded together to draft a Proposal for more market stalls at the Elephant, after the centre’s closure. The Proposal was received by Florence Eshalomi, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, who met the traders at City Hall, gave strong support and undertook to take up the matter with Mayor Sadiq Khan. Local councillor Cllr Maria Linforth-Hall also met the traders and is giving her support, as are Assembly members Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry, Assembly Member and the Green Party candidate for Mayor.

The Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party Constituency Party also passed a motion in support of the traders’ Proposal at their meeting last week.
…while UAL looks after itself
Sadly, the University of the Arts London (UAL) has not felt able to help the traders, nearly all of whom come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and despite its professed commitment to Black Lives Matter. In letters received by Southwark Law Centre UAL declines to either withdraw from the shopping centre redevelopment which will supply it with a new campus for the London College of Communication on the very spot traders now occupy, nor to offer support for the traders’ Proposals for additional market stalls. UAL is instead happy to take Southwark and Delancey’s assurances that all traders are being properly treated at face value.
Division and attrition
Southwark and Delancey’s treatment of the people who actually work at the Elephant now can be summed up as ‘division and attrition’. The relocation strategy and traders’ participation in decisions on their future were only put in place after Delancey had gained planning committee approval for their scheme. Latin Elephant’s advocacy on behalf of all the BAME traders was also resisted. The s106 legal agreement (negotiated between Southwark, Delancey and UAL), which determines who was ‘eligible’ and who was ineligible for relocation support uses formal criteria around leases and licences that do not reflect the way the community has developed over the years. Alongside this, the decline in footfall and in the physical fabric of the centre led to a decline in trade that unsurprisingly meant that traders left before the centre’s closure, wearied beyond hope by the whole ‘regeneration’ process.
For Southwark and Delancey this is all part of the natural process of regeneration and relocating just 40 out of 130 traders is a triumph to be proud of. For the traders and the campaigners who support them it is deplorable outcome which exposes the hollow promise that the Elephant and Castle regeneration is providing a ‘fairer future’ for the local community.
 Southwark Council’s Planning Framework for E&C regeneration.
Going, but not forgotten…
You can see a short valedictory film, by Emile Scott Burgoyne, celebrating the Elephant community here.
See joint statement, heading ‘Who is being relocated?’, first bullet point. 

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Recent Articles:
Shopping Centre traders propose new stalls for the Elephant
Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners
The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration
Campaigners demand that UAL withdraws from shopping centre development.
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35% Campaign

35% Campaign update – Shopping Centre traders propose new stalls for the Elephant

Sep 14, 2020 12:00 am

Traders appeal to Mayor Sadiq Khan for his support -Traders who will be losing their market stalls when the Elephant and Castle shopping closes have come up with their own proposal for new stalls at the Elephant. Around forty traders face the loss of their businesses and livelihoods when the Centre closes its doors for the last time on 24 September.The traders’ proposals are for new stalls to be sited around the Faraday Memorial, by the railway arches along Archer St and outside the new Elephant Arcade, at the bottom of Perronet House.Traders are proposing at least 45 new stalls. Most of the new stalls would be around the large silver Faraday Memorial in the middle of the Elephant roundabout. This will become an even more important commuter route between the train station and the tube stations, with the closure of the shopping centre. The proposal would keep established traders at the heart of the Elephant and maintain the ‘sense of place’ that they have created. The proposal builds upon a previous Transport for London (TfL) project, from 2014, but never delivered.The proposal has been sent to the Mayor of London for his support. The land around the Faraday memorial is owned by TfL, which the Mayor leads.Local London Assembly member Florence Eshalomi MP has submitted a formal question to the Mayor asking him if he will support the proposals.Traders are also looking for support from local councillors from all parties and representatives at the London Assembly.Traders believe that with wholehearted support from the Mayor, Southwark Council, councillors and London Assembly members, all the displaced traders from the shopping centre can be found new homes. Only 45 out of 97 traders had secured relocation space, up to the end of April 2020.The proposal was devised by Alice Chilangwa Farmer and is supported by the Up the Elephant Campaign, Latin Elephant and Southwark Law Centre. If adopted it would provide shopping options and continuity to a local community facing a prolonged period of disruption and construction work.The complete proposal can be found here.This is what the traders and supporters have to say;Trader Shapoor Amini says: ‘ I’ve worked at this market since 2001. These people promised us so many things, they said we’ll give you a space, we’ll look after you guys, but they’ve done nothing for us. …I applied so many times—I’ve made calls, been to the council, been to the office, done lots of paperwork […] been to countless meetings, and still nothing. My whole life has been spent in this market, in this area, and now I don’t know what to do…..I have a kids, a wife it is very difficult’.Trader Edmund Attoh says: ‘I’m working here over 20 years. Things are very difficult people who have been here for a long time didn’t get nothing. That’s what we don’t understand, that’s why we are frustrated. We don’t know where we are going now. I applied for a space, and anything they asked, we give to them. They turned us down. But they didn’t say [why].’Traders Mathew and Eden Onuba say: ‘We’ve been 5 years at Elephant and Castle. We don’t know what to do in September, it is a very difficult situation. I don’t want much, but to save the business we’ve built up together.’
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Recent Articles:Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners
The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration
Campaigners demand that UAL withdraws from shopping centre development.
Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homesfollow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend 35% Campaign

Latest on Shopping Centre traders

Dear Friend

Our twitter storm last week in support of the shopping centre traders generated some great publicity. The gentrification of the Elephant and other working-class areas was taken up on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drivetime with Eddie Nestor. There were great contributions from Latin Elephant, campaigners and most importantly traders themselves – you can hear it here.

Traders and campaigners also joined the XR rebellion demo at the Elephant on Sunday.

Traders have also put together their own proposal for staying at the Elephant, devised by Alice Chilangwa Farmer, with the assistance of Latin Elephant, Southwark Law Centre and the Up the Elephant Campaign. This has been sent to the Mayor, local councillors and London Assembly members – we will bring more news of this very soon.

Meantime you can read the latest 35% Campaign blogpost on the shopping centre here.

Regards
Jerry

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35% Campaign update – The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

Aug 24, 2020 12:00 am

University of the Arts ignores traders’ plight -In our last blog post we detailed how Up the Elephant and other campaigners had written to the University of the Arts, London (UAL), informing them that at least 28 traders had not been relocated new premises, as they face the closure of their businesses, to make way for the demolition and redevelopment of the shopping centre. Analysis by Latin Elephant puts the number of traders in peril at between fourty and fifty.

All the displaced traders (bar one) come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the campaigner’s letter demanded that UAL withdraw from the redevelopment, which includes a new UAL campus, in line with its Black Lives Matter statement “We aim to build our anti-racism commitments through collective engagement into actions that make a meaningful difference.”

No reply from UAL

Nearly a month after the letter was sent no reply has been received. We are printing below the stories of six of the displaced traders, in their own words, to prompt UAL into giving some thought to those who are losing their livelihoods so that they can benefit from shiny new premises. Southwark Council and developer Delancey might also want to take heed.

Nassim Cheraitain

My name is Nassim Cheraitian, I’ve been trading at Elephant and Castle market for over 20 years. The closing down of the Shopping Centre, for us, wasn’t good news, because they haven’t helped us. For the last three, four, five years business has been down, we’ve been losing, losing… they promised us they would help to find us to find a new unit but they didn’t. I applied, they asked us for all our details […] we provided them with everything. After that they said that there isn’t space for everyone. And it’s been left like this. We don’t have anywhere to go. They [the council] gave us £3000, but honestly it’s not really [been helpful]. £3000 is nothing — three years ago they told us they would help us, so all that time we’ve been waiting, the business has gone down, we’ve been losing money, losing customers every day, and we were waiting to get something back. Instead we got £3000. I don’t have any plans, as I’ve been waiting to get this promised help from the council […] we’ve been here for too long for them to leave us like this […] [my customers] are unhappy, they think it is unfair to us, we’ve been here too long to be left with nothing—no shop, no unit, nothing.

Shapoor Amini

My name is Shapoor Amini, I’ve worked at this market since 2001. These people promised us so many things, they said we’ll give you a space, we’ll look after you guys, but they’ve done nothing for us. Some people who were [trading] here for one year, two years, 6 months, they got a space. Me, I’ve been here 20 years, and they gave me nothing; they just said sorry, sorry, you still need to wait. And I don’t know what’s going on. I had someone who worked for me who got a space! But I’ve been here for twenty years and nothing. I applied so many times—I’ve made calls, been to the council, been to the office, done lots of paperwork […] been to countless meetings, and still nothing. I don’t know why not, they never talk to us face to face. They sent letters out […]some people got something, others didn’t […] everybody knows me here […] customers come to me as say ‘where is your new space?’, and I say I don’t know. My whole life has been spent in this market, in this area, and now I don’t know what to do. It’s very difficult for me. I have a kids, a wife… they said if you find yourself a shop we will help you. But at this late stage how can I find a shop? […] they promised us too much. Places are asking for a £30,000 deposit, it is very difficult.

Edmund Attoh

My name is Edmund, I’m working here [at the market] over 20 years. Things are very difficult, they gave a space to some people, who’d been here 5 years, 4 years, 2 years, people who have been here for a long time didn’t get nothing. That’s what we don’t understand, that’s why we are frustrated. We don’t know where we are going now. I applied for a space, and anything they asked, we give to them. They turned us down. But they didn’t say [why]. It has affected us […] someone who has been here for 20 years, and suddenly they say go. We don’t know where we are going. It is very hard for us. My customers always call me and ask where we are going. But we don’t know what to tell them […] that is a problem for us […] we’re looking to them (the council) […] we need help.

Mohammed Jamal

My name is Mohammed Jamal, I’m working in the market the last 8 years. I’m in a very bad situation, because I haven’t found a relocation […] I’ve got four children, and i’ve got no choice [but to work at the market] because I’m more than 55 now, and can’t find any other suitable job, and I’ve also got an illness I take medicine for […] customers ask ‘where are you going’ I said I still can’t find relocation […] because the council says there is no more relocation, it is all full. But I am still waiting for something to come up. One lady told me I’m not even on the waiting list […] she said your application is on file but not on the waiting list […] because there are so many people and the relocation spaces are limited […] I applied many times for a space […] and a small shop is alright for me […] I sent many emails, but no answer. The feeling of not having anything is very painful. If someone doesn’t speak English very well, or is softly spoken […] I am very soft, not talking a lot. That could be why no-one helped me.

Muhammad Raza

My name is Muhammad Raza, I’m working here since 2006. The market is dead now, before it was alright, but slowly, slowly they are closing down shops, big stores—Tesco, Poundland, Boots is going—it’s really dead now so it’s really hard to survive. And because we don’t have a space we don’t know what to do. Tree Shepherd and Delancey aren’t answering our emails, actually I emailed two days ago and didn’t get a response. This morning Tree Shepherd called me and said ‘if you find yourself any shop, we’ll help you’, I said which kind of help? Because I’m looking for a shop […] but if I look myself shops are £15,000, £20,000—I can’t afford that rent. And Tree Shepherd said they don’t have any affordable rents. If your looking for Castle Square or Elephant One, don’t even think about it […] they said ‘we’ll help you’, but which kind of help? I don’t know. This has affected my business, my life, my family, I don’t know what to do next.

Mohammed Al Waris

“My name is Mohammed Al Waris, I’ve been trading at the Elephant and Castle market for the past 15 plus years. Throughout these years I’ve been selling fashion accessories, and I’ve made friendships within the local community. Recently what happened was that they tried to demolish the shopping centre, and that affected most of the traders’ lives, I’m one of them. We haven’t been offered anything. We were asked to pick three different locations—Castle Square, Perronet House, Elephant One—they haven’t offered me none of them. They haven’t told me [why], they just said we haven’t got any affordable unit for you guys. At the beginning they promised us, and then we suffer for the past three years, they closed the subway (underground walkway) and the business going down by about 80%. Two years before they came with an application, saying that we going to definitely relocate you 100%. Now we have one and a half months left to leave the market, and we can’t get any help from Tree Shepherd, or from Delancey. Every time we talk to the they say ‘sorry we haven’t got anything for you guys’, so we can’t do nothing. I believe we are entitled to a place in this area, cos they are making millions from this project, why can’t they help these traders? These traders have families they are trying to look after. By kicking them out, they are destroying their family life […] I really hope they can think about these traders and help to move them to a place nearby the area, where they have their customers […] they say you can’t stay in the area because this area, like Central London, is going to be very expensive. So where should we go? We don’t know.”

Our campaign…

Our campaign is to get Nassim, Shapoor, Edmund, Mohammed, Mohummad, Mohammed and their fellow traders new premises or suitable compensation for the loss of their businesses. The power to do this lies with Southwark Council, Delancey and University of the Arts London (UAL), but time is running out fast – the centre is due to close on 24 September.

You can help us by sending a Twitter message to the Southwark Councillors responsible for this fiasco:

  • @peterjohn6 (Council Leader)
  • @rebeccalury (Deputy Leader, Ward Cllr and Cabinet member for Equalites and Communities)
  • @MerrilDarren (Ward Cllr and Chair of the traders panel that was supposed to support traders)
  • @cllrmseaton (Ward Cllr and Chair of the Planning Committee)
  • @JohnsonSitu (Cabinet member for Regeneration)
  • @Leo_Pollak (Cabinet member for Social Regeneration)
  • @steviecryan (Cabinet member for Jobs, Business and Innovation)
  • @coyleneil (Local MP and Elephant & Castle resident)

You can find more infomation about the displaced traders can be found here.
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New Housing Strategy – Consultation

Dear TRA Chair,

Over the past year the council has been consulting on a new housing strategy. This has included a stakeholder session back in June 2019, and a public consultation between January and May this year.

We were in the process of consulting on the housing strategy when the COVID-19 pandemic started to seriously impact on the United Kingdom in March 2020 therefore the consultation period was extended to May.

Many thanks for all the comments received so far.

The housing strategy is a long term document covering the next thirty years but the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a significant impact on the delivery of the strategy in the short term to medium term, and there may also be longer term consequences.

The pandemic has impacted on every principle of the housing strategy. We have have added new text throughout the strategy.

We have also made changes to the strategy in response to comments made so far during the earlier consultation, such as adding more text about tacking climate change.

All changes since the past consultation draft are included in purple text.

As there has been considerable change since the original consultation we have decided to do another quick final round of consultation.

We want to give partners and other key stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the proposed changes, and to highlight any other changes you think are required to respond to the new challenges with the pandemic.

Please email any comments you have to housingstrategy2@southwark.gov.uk by the end of August 2020.

We look forward to hearing your views.

Many thanks,

Rob

Robert Weallans, Housing Strategy Manager

Housing Strategy and Business Support, Resident Services Division, Housing & Modernisation Department

020 752 51217 |   : robert.weallans@southwark.gov.uk | Tooley Street, 5th floor, Hub 3

Copies of the housing strategy are available at www.southwark.gov.uk/housing/housing-strategy

Visiting address: Southwark Council, 160 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2QH

Postal address:   Southwark Council, P O Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX

www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark For council services at your fingertips, register online.   You can also manage your rent or service charge account, pay your council tax as well as report and track your housing repairs.

London Tenants Federation Summer Newsletter: Protecting the social housing we have and building more

Welcome to our Summer Newsletter

Things haven’t got any easier for social housing tenants, or for anyone in housing need, since our spring newsletter. Despite all, we hope you and your neighbours are well and finding ways to stay connected. 

The government’s shambolic and inadequate statements around protection for renters and funding for new ‘affordable’ rented housing have provided no comfort whatsoever to those already disproportionately affected by Covid19.

Frustratingly, it’s not that the resources aren’t available. In June, we published a briefing: ‘Who gets the most from the taxpayer when it comes to housing?’ Clue: It’s not social rented housing and those in need of it.

With many more people facing homelessness and job losses, now more than ever it is essential that we protect the social housing we have and prioritise available funding and resources for building more. This newsletter covers a number of ways we can help.

35,000 homes on London estates are earmarked for demolition

Estate Watch is a new online resource which aims to ensure those communities have more information about demolition and its alternatives. We had fantastic feedback when we launched the website with Just Space in June, from tenants and residents, journalists, academics and campaigners. 

The website summarises research led by Professor Loretta Lees, highlighting that around 131,000 tenants and leaseholders have been displaced by council estate demolition in London since 1997.

To mark the launch we held a Twitter Q&A with Loretta Lees in June and a Zoom meeting for residents of affected estates on 5th August.

Whilst it was a positive to see the Mayor introduce ballots for grant-funded demolition schemes in 2018, we have heard concerning accounts of how the policy is being implemented. A leaseholder on a Camden estate which has voted in favour of demolition described seeing council officers visiting residents in their homes while the ballot was taking place to ‘help’ them fill in the form.

“They were upfront that they were pushing for it to be knocked down,” said Luise. “There was nothing impartial about the consultation. They’ve been deliberately and continuously neglecting the estate. We were basically told that if we voted against demolition the estate would be run down even further.”

We can’t rely on councils, housing associations and their development partners to share the full picture of what demolition involves with tenants and residents before they go to ballot so it’s important we share that ourselves. Please help us spread the word about Estate Watch:

GOVERNMENT AND MAYORAL CONSULTATIONS

Planning for the future (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 October 2020

The government are consulting on potentially radical changes to the planning system. Proposals include scrapping Section 106 and a zoning system which sets out areas for ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protection’. Read more here.

We are very nervous about what this could mean; for social housing delivery, for liveability in poorer areas and for community involvement in the planning process. We will be in touch about opportunities to feed in to LTF’s discussions about this, and look forward to sharing with you our response to the consultation.

‘Priority housing for London’s covid heroes’ (Mayor of London)

Consultation closes on 11 October 2020

The Mayor is consulting on proposals to prioritise allocation of ‘intermediate housing’, eg. shared ownership and the ‘London Living Rent’, for ‘key workers’. Read more here.

As we know these tenures are unaffordable to many of the essential workers who have kept London running through the pandemic. We have shared our initial response to this announcement on Twitter and will keep you informed of our response to the consultation itself.

FIRE SAFETY

Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been especially hard to listen to. We’ve found Pete Apps’ Grenfell Tower Inquiry Diary in Inside Housing particularly insightful reading.

The government has now published its draft Fire Safety Bill. We aim to hold a Zoom meeting about this for tenant and leaseholder representatives. We will keep you informed on when that is and how to book.

Do you live in a high rise tower block or know someone who does? 

FixMyBlock: A Tower Block Action Guide is a new publication that could help tower block residents track and report safety and maintenance issues in their buildings. It’s being trialled by Tower Blocks UK and mySociety and they are currently looking for comments from tenants and residents. 

NEWS, BLOGS AND EVENTS

Tenants excluded from London’s Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce 

In May, we raised our voice about the exclusion of tenant and community groups from the Deputy Mayor for Housing’s taskforce on housing provision post-Covid-19. The Task Force has since published it’s report and recommendations. Watch this space for our analysis.

In figures: Why the Mayor should scrap the London Affordable Rent
The London Affordable Rent is often referred to as social rent or very similar to social rent, but the 2018/19 benchmark London Affordable Rent for just a bedsit (£150) was £44/week higher than the average London council rent (£106 a week), covering all sizes of property. We took the matter up with the regulator of social housing, who confirmed that this is compliant with the expectations for an ‘affordable rent product’.

Can shared ownership be made better for Londoners, or is it fundamentally flawed?
In May, we responded to concerns around shared ownership, raised by Unmesh Desai, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee.

Book Review: Community-led Regeneration by Pablo Sendra and Daniel Fitzpatrick
LTF rep Pat Turnbull gave her thoughts on this new book; a free resource for communities and planners. You can find a copy of the book online here.
If you’re a social housing tenant or leaseholder and you’ve read anything on housing or planning that you’re interested in writing a book review for, we’d love to hear from you. Contact zoe-comms@londontenants.org

Want some help getting on social media?

We periodically hold social media training for our members and social housing tenant and resident representatives. If there is demand, we will hold another training session via Zoom (a free online conference call service) in the autumn. If this interests you, get in touch with zoe-comms@londontenants.org

PUBLICATIONS 

Tenants’ Guide: The Mayor of London’s Powers 

The Mayor of London has wide-ranging strategic powers over housing, regeneration and large-scale developments. Intended for tenant, resident and community groups in the capital, this Guide sets out what those powers are and how they impact on us locally, so that we are better able to influence decision-making. Council and housing association tenant participation officers who are seeking to connect tenants and residents groups to opportunities to engage in wider debates about housing and planning may also find this useful. If you have a tenant participation officer, why not send them the link?

The London Tenants Guide to ‘Genuinely Affordable Housing’ 2020 

This is an updated version of the 2019 guide and includes the latest figures on London Affordable Rent for 2020/21.

Case studies 

We can’t easily get out and explore different parts of London at the moment, but there’s still virtual guided tours. We visited the Holland Rise estate in Lambeth and the New Kingshold Estate in Hackney, both filmed before lockdown.

Holland Rise and Whitebeam Close Tenant Management Organisation
Cindy and Pauline, a volunteer and Board Member of the TMO, take us on a tour of the estate’s well equipped community centre and beautiful shared gardens; a fantastic example of the possibilities and benefits of tenant management.

Victoria Community Association (The TRA for the New Kingshold Estate)
When Hackney’s New Kingshold Estate was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s, what was formerly a council estate was split between four different landlords. Pat Turnbull, LTF rep and Chair of the estate’s tenants and residents association (TRA) explains how and why the community fought to retain one joint TRA for the whole estate.

Do you have any photos or videos giving a picture of your estate and community? We’d love to see them. Email zoe-comms@londontenants.org 

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS

Could you be the next Chair of the London Housing Panel?

The London Housing Panel is looking for an independent Chair to provide leadership to the Panel as they work on housing policy issues facing London. Application deadline: Monday 17 August 2020, 5pm. More details here. 

Housing management and tenant involvement

Inside Housing held their ‘Digitial Housing Week’ in June and Andy Bates from Leathermarket JMB, an LTF rep for the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO) gave a presentation at the workshop on financial hardship in relation to Covid19. You can find slides from his presentation here.

We’re looking forward to speaking on how we get landlords to better listen to tenants at the Inside Housing Consumer Experience conference in October. We’ll report back on that too it

Highlights from Twitter, Facebook and Youtube

  • The Setchell TRA in Southwark have kept us learning with a series on Facebook about the history behind the estate’s architecture

  • Leathermarket JMB have kept spirits up in their community and on Twitter, by sharing stories of their good work 

  • The Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team held a webinar in July about sustainability in social housing, including a presentation from Anne Power on ‘the case for retrofit’. The full presentation has been uploaded to Youtube.

  • The Estate Watch launch received huge engagement and high praise from Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty who described it as a ‘Brilliant resource’.

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

Telephone
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35% Campaign update – Campaigners demand that UAL withdraws from shopping centre development.

Campaigners demand that UAL withdraws from shopping centre development.

Aug 03, 2020 12:00 am

Campaigners respond to University of the Art’s Black Lives Matter statement -Campaigners fighting against the demolition and redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre have demanded that the University of the Arts London (UAL) withdraw from the controversial scheme. The demand was made in an open letter to the UAL’s Rector, Sir Nigel Carrington.

UAL’s London College of Communication (LCC) is to benefit from a new campus in the development, after its current premises are demolished. The shopping centre is due to be closed at the end of September 2020. UAL is a key stakeholder, along with offshore developer Delancey and a signatory of the s106 legal contract that underpins the development.

Fifty traders with nowhere to go

Campaigners wrote to Sir Nigel Carrington in response to UAL’s publication of a statement in respect of the Black Live Matter protests taking place across the world. In its statement, UAL declares:

“We aim to build our anti-racism commitments through collective engagement into actions that make a meaningful difference.”

The letter points out that many traders at the Shopping Centre have not been given any relocation space and they are all from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. According to a Southwark Council report at least 28 of the displaced traders have not been offered relocation premises.1 Local charity Latin Elephant and Petite Elephant has conducted their own research which shows the figure is nearer 50 traders.

Urgent action is needed now

The letter goes on to state:

“Urgent action is now needed to rectify this distressing situation and it is within UAL’s power to effect this … We are therefore asking UAL to withdraw from the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre if the organisation is genuinely committed to anti-racism.”

The letter says:

“UAL’s alleged commitment to anti-racism will not stand up to scrutiny if it allows the imminent erasure of this community in Elephant and Castle. In this case actions will prove to speak louder than words.”

Campaigners acknowledge that the London College of Communication (LCC) is itself an important part of the Elephant and Castle, but while so many traders from BAME backgrounds have suffered under the redevelopment LCC is a big winner, gaining a new, state-of-the art campus.

The letter’s signatories are Planning Voice (Southwark Law Centre)Latin ElephantUp the Elephant campaign, Anita Israel (#UALstillsowhite), Stand Up To Racism (Southwark) and Southwark Notes. The letter has been copied to Natalie Brett (Pro Vice Chair UAL), Stafford Lancaster, (Investment Director, Delancey) Cllr Peter John OBE, (Leader, Southwark Council).

The letter was sent on the 17 July 2020 and no reply had been received, at the date of this blog post.

Southwark is listening, again…

Simultaneously with UAL, Southwark Council is conducting its own ‘listening exercise’, Southwark Stands Together, asking anyone who lives, works or visits the borough about their experiences, so that they can ‘identify solutions to address entrenched, persistent racism and injustice’.

But Southwark has been down this road before – back in 2005, London Mayor Ken Livingstone called for the Commission for Racial Equality to investigate the Elephant’s regeneration, after shopping centre traders voiced concerns about how they would be accommodated in the redevelopment. Southwark had already commissioned the Lord Herman Ouseley to investigate its borough wide practices and in 2007 the Council’s Executive signed up to a ‘Traders Charter’, setting out how ‘continuity of trading’ could be secured and how to facilitate ‘..the transfer of existing businesses to new trading locations’.

Nobody should be left behind…

So, the problems traders face because of the regeneration are well-known and long acknowledged. According to Southwark forty-five traders have been relocated, but as many still have nowhere to go 2. The relocation and transition funds set up to assist traders are a fraction of the £148.4m profit Delancey stand to make from the redevelopment.

There can be no more blindingly obvious injustice than that longstanding shopping centre traders, all from BAME backgrounds, should face the loss of their stalls and premises, with no compensation and little prospect of continuing their businesses, to make way for a profit-spinning development that has no place for them.

We do not believe that between them the University of the Arts London, Southwark Council and Delancey with the vast resources at their command, cannot either find all traders new premises or pay them suitable compensation for the loss of their livelihoods. Now is the time for them to do so.

Footnotes:

  1. Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre Progress Report Appendix D para 23 
  2. number of relocations given in email correspondence 24 April 2020 

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Construction of 4 new flats at Balin House

Planning Application 20/AP/1159

EXISTING_PLAN__SECTION___ELEVATIONS-868963

20_AP_1159-APPLICATION_FORM_-_WITHOUT_PERSONAL_DATA-867293

20_AP_1159-DESIGN___ACCESS_STATEMENT-867289

20_AP_1159-SITE_LOCATION__EXISTING___PROPOSED_BIN___CYCLE_STORAGE-867287

20_AP_1159-EXISTING___PROPOSED_ROOF_PLAN-868970

PROPOSED_PLANS__SECTION___ELEVATIONS-868969

EXISTING_PLAN__SECTION___ELEVATIONS-868963

20_AP_1159-FLOOD_RISK_ASSESSMENT-876910

35% Campaign update – Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homes

Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homes

Jul 12, 2020 12:00 am

Notting Hill Genesis to receive £210m bailout from Southwark -Southwark Council has announced that the First Development Site (FDS) of the Aylesbury estate regeneration will now deliver 581 council homes, increasing the number of social rented homes on the site by 280 units. The figures come from a Cabinet report to be considered on Tuesday 14 July. These will be the first new council homes on the regeneration.

Southwark will be paying for the new council homes, which will consist of 520 general needs, 54 flexi-care and 7 specialist learning homes, while Notting Hill Genesis will build them. This is a new ‘arrangement’ ; previously the homes were to have been built and paid for by Notting Hill Genesis, under the terms of a planning permission granted to Notting Hill Housing Trust, as it then was, in 2015. Southwark will pay £193m in development cost; it will also forego a further £17.8m in lost receipts from NHG, giving a total cost of £210.8m. Two GLA grants, totalling £54.5m, would bring the cost down to £156.31.

 Extract from Tuesday’s Cabinet report approving the decision

The good news

Understandably, Southwark councillors are making the most of the gain in council housing, which is undeniably good news. Local housing campaigners, both on and off the estate can also take credit – reducing the loss of social housing has been a consistent aim and at the centre of many hard-fought battles.

There are a couple of wrinkles though – a proportion of these social rented units will be needed to rehouse leaseholders decanted from later phases. How many remains to be seen – Phase 2 and 3 has 62 leaseholders yet to be bought out and their options include the new shared equity scheme introduced in response to the Secretary of State’s CPO ruling that BAME leaseholders were being wrongly displaced from their communities 2.

Also, the report is silent on whether the new council housing means that there will be a reduction in the net loss of social rented housing in the overall regeneration, or whether it is simply social housing being brought forward from later phases in the regeneration. The outline planning permission granted to NHG, who remain responsible for delivering the rest of the regeneration’s 2,745 units, still allows for a net loss of between 778 and 1,166 social rented units 3.

The not-so-good news

Southwark Council presents the cost of building the new council and other FDS homes as being a reasonable £238.4k per unit. Southwark arrives at this figure by assuming receipt of two GLA grants, reducing development costs from £193m to £138.5m.

But only one GLA grant has been secured and leaving the unsecured grant out of the equation and including the loss of £17.8m from NHG (for the land, and contributions to infrastructure costs) gives a total cost to Southwark of £182m and a less flattering cost per unit of £313k.

Neither of the above calculations, though, take properly into account the major fact that, under the existing delivery arrangements with NHG Southwark was to pay nothing for the housing, including the 240 social rented units; this was to be met by NHG.

So, while Southwark is now to get 581 council homes, instead of 240 social rented homes, this net gain requires an outlay of £193m gross – equivalent to £690k for each of the extra 280 units 4.

NHG takes all the private housing

NHG also get to keep part of the FDS land, so-called Package C, on which to build 261 homes for themselves, most of which, 170 units, will be private homes. These units comprise all the private housing on the FDS. There will also be 57 shared ownership, and 34 social rent 5.

NHG will also continue to build the homes on Plot 18, most of which are again private – 99 private homes, 6 shared ownership and 17 social rent. (This is despite the fact that it is no longer paying £6m towards Plot 18’s community infrastructure) 6.

This is all in stark contrast to the what NHG was supposed to deliver across the whole FDS under the Development Partnership Agreement (DPA) between Southwark and NHG, signed in 2014. Under the DPA, NHG was obliged to provide at least 50% affordable housing, 75% of which social rent – now this requirement has been abandoned 7.

An explanation?

NHG therefore appear to be walking away unscathed from their FDS obligations and while Southwark are getting many welcome council homes, they are having to dig deep financially to pay for them. The Cabinet report notes a knock-on effect for future housing investment 8.

An explanation for all this lies with the Development Partnership Agreement, which gives NHG an effective ‘viability veto’ on the progress of the regeneration. A DPA clause allows NHG to decide whether or not a particular plot or phase can proceed, depending on its viability. This viability test includes a 21% ‘priority return’ of revenue to NHG and is determined by their own assessment.

NHG’s circumstances have also changed for the worse since it signed the DPA in 2014. It has been forced to ‘significantly scale back’ its development pipeline, after a Regulator of Social Housing report last August concluded NHG, with more than 400 unsold private market homes sitting on its books, “faces a range of risks and exposure to sales” .

Southwark, on the other hand, has invested heavily, both financially and politically, in delivering the Aylesbury regeneration. It has been decanting homes for nearly 10 years and now 500 or so stand empty, or are being used for temporary accommodation. The first FDS homes were supposed to have been completed this summer (a two-year delay on the original timetable), but much of the site is still rubble. Phase 2 is still not fully empty and no planning application has been submitted. Further delays can be expected for any compulsory purchase order and a demolition notice.

It is therefore not difficult to see why Southwark might have felt compelled to make concessions to NHG, by taking over the delivery and meeting the cost of nearly all the affordable housing, while leaving all the revenue-generating free-market homes to NHG.

NHG holds Southwark over a barrel – again

Southwark has been forced to make such concessions twice before. In September 2016, Southwark agreed to underwrite or advance £22.1 million to NHG, for the FDS demolition and design costs, including a payment of £16.8m for demolition, that was to have been paid by NHG. This advance funding was to be recouped by the FDS land receipt, which will now not be paid. The report agreeing this also noted that Southwark was due to spend £52.5m on the Aylesbury regeneration by 2018/19 9.

In 2018, NHG was awarded £30m of GLA grant funding for the first phase of the scheme. The Development Partnership Agreement set out that any grant funding awarded to the scheme should go to Southwark, such that it receives some kind of remuneration for the sale of its land (see para 4.1, page 111). But NHG forced Southwark to agree to a variation allowing it to pocket the entire £30m 10.

What next?

Gaining 581 council homes is a boon for everyone in Southwark who depends upon social housing. Delivering these in the FDS phase also has the advantage that existing residents from later phases have a better chance of remaining on the Aylesbury.

But rescuing the Aylesbury regeneration is costing Southwark dearly. Southwark is plugging holes left by NHG’s failure to deliver. Southwark is paying not just for council housing on its own account, but also for social rented housing that NHG should have paid for, and Southwark is doing this with money that could otherwise be spent on building more council housing elsewhere. Meantime NHG retains choice pieces of land, in the middle of the Aylesbury, to build nearly 270 private homes. No figures are given in Tuesday’s cabinet report of how much NHG stand to make from this.

This is also not the first time Southwark have come to NHG’s rescue. Southwark has also spent £101m keeping the estate habitable, while the regeneration stalls under NHG’s stewardship 11.

At least four of the DPA milestones haven’t been met:

….and Southwark has the right to terminate the DPA if Notting Hill doesn’t meet milestones:

There is also a clause that allows the Council to terminate 3 years after it was first found that a plot wasn’t viable:

It would be a serious matter for Southwark to consider such a step, but given its past performance and its present circumstances it would be no surprise if NHG do not return, asking for more concessions and for more money. If this does happen, Southwark should take stock of the situation and consider whether this is the best use of its money.

Footnotes: