|No room for social rent at Pocket Living on the Old Kent Road Oct 06, 2020 12:00 am|
100% affordable housing, zero social rent, zero family housing -Southwark Council is set to approve a mixed-used residential scheme in the Old Kent Rd Opportunity Area with no social rented housing or family housing, at its planning committee meeting this evening.The proposed development on Ossory Rd is for 105 units of housing, with light industrial space beneath this. All 105 units will be affordable housing, but of the most expensive type, sold at 80% market value. The applicant is Pocket Living, which specialises in maximising the amount of housing on small sites. All the homes will be one-bed, one person units, without family housing. This is the second such Pocket Living development in the area; the first, in Varcoe Rd had 57 units and a third, Credon House, also for 57 units is in the pipeline.Pocket Living make up their own rulesSouthwark Council requires 35% affordable housing, 70% of which should be social rented, on all developments of this size. This has been the case since 2007 and the requirement has been retained in a succession of local planning documents, up to the draft New Southwark Plan and the Old Kent Rd Area Action Plan. All major approved developments within the Old Kent Rd have pledged to deliver that amount.There should also be at least 20% family housing of 3, 4, 5-beds in major developments and 60% of should comprise 2-bed homes1.Pocket Living, however, want to make up their own rules. Their sites are small and it wishes to maximise the number of homes built, so they are all one -bed/one person units, though 10% of their occupants appear to be couples, with most units barely above the minimum size allowed (37 sq metres) 2.The amount of open and amenity space for occupants is also squeezed. In a development of this size there should be 1,050 sqm private amenity space, Pocket are providing a miniscule 42 sqm. Developers can compensate for a lack of private space with more communal space, but Pocket falls well short here, too, providing less than half the amount required (506 sqm instead of 1,058 sqm) 3 .Not that affordablePocket Living justify their radical departures from Southwark’s affordable housing requirements, by claiming they are serving the hard-pressed, young first-time buyer and supply their own statistics and census figures to back this up, dutifully reproduced by the officer’s report, which recommends approval of the scheme 4. The report also makes the confusing claim that the affordable housing offer is policy compliant:Buying a decent home in London is undoubtedly hard for the young professionals Pocket Living housing is squarely aimed at, but they are still relatively much better off than those excluded by the absence of social and family housing from Pocket Living developments. Pocket’s typical purchaser will have an average income of £44,000 (OR, Para 60), an income enjoyed by less than 4.5% of Southwark’s households. Pocket Living estimates that its homes will sell for approximately £300k each (with the 20% discount). Supplying homes at these prices to those who earn £44k per year, at the expense of those who earn barely half that is not what affordable housing should be about5.Density and un-exemplary designUnsurprisingly, given Pocket’s ambitions to maximise the number of units, they are proposing a scheme which is twice the density it should be, (at 2,333 habitable rooms per hectare against a maximum allowed of 1,100 hrph), justified on the basis of exemplary design. However, many of the measures for ‘exemplary’ design are not met – it does not have enough amenity space, there is no ‘predominance’ of dual aspect flats, it does not have any 2-bed or more flats, and the flats do not ‘significantly exceed minimum floor-space standards’ 6.Equality not a great considerationThe lack of social and family housing and the provision of all the homes as single bed units, targeted at middle income professionals, would also seem to have clear implications for the various social groups protected under equalities legislation. Southwark have a legal duty to consider this, but have not done so in any detail, content just to note of affordable housing, that there is ‘a high demand for such accommodation and a relatively high BAME population’ 7.Viability and the Bakerloo Line ExtensionThe officer’s report and recommendation for approval was written before press-reports that the Bakerloo Line extension has fallen down the list of priorities for Transport for London (TfL) and may not be built for many years. Pocket Living’s proposal is, according to themselves, technically non-viable and depends upon the delivery of the BLE to turn a profit (as do many other Old Kent Rd schemes) 8. There is no mention of a late stage review of the scheme’s viability, which removes the possibility of any improvement in the affordable housing offer, such as a greater discount in the selling price.The Mayor likes itWhile Pocket Living pretty much ignores Southwark’s own housing policy, so does the officer’s report to the planning committee, which notes the departures, but nonetheless recommends approval on other ‘material’ grounds. The report also cites the enthusiastic support of the Mayor (matching his enthusiasm for Build to Rent, another middle/upper income affordable housing tenure that sacrifices social rent)9.What we say…It is hard to see what this scheme brings to the Old Kent Rd, in housing terms. It has no social housing and no family housing. The affordable housing it does provide is of the most expensive kind. The scheme does not have the private and public space that it should have and it serves a very narrow demographic, while excluding broader sections of the community.Pocket Living would argue that the constraints of the site and the housing needs of a relatively well-off section of the community should outweigh these shortcomings, but Southwark’s local plan already addresses how much housing there should be for different income groups, with the overarching aim of building a mixed and cohesive community. Pocket Living simply ignores this, so the planning committee should reject this application.You can find the 35% Campaign objection to this development here. Footnotes:Southwark’s Core Strategy Strategic Policy 7 – Family homes, pg 86 ↩Officer Report Table pg 42 ↩Officer Report para 133,134,135 ↩Officer Report para 112 ↩New Southwark Plan Submission Version Jan 2020 Fig 2 ↩Officer Report para 118, 119 ↩Officer Report para 28 ↩Officer Report para 64, 65 ↩Officer Report para 229-237; 57 ↩
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Shopping Centre closes, but campaign for traders continuesSep 28, 2020 12:00 am
Protesters mark the final day for Elephant shopping centre -The closure of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre last Thursday was marked by protest, impassioned speeches and widespread media coverage. The centre closed after 55 years’ service to the local community and is now set to be demolished, to make way for a new retail, leisure and residential complex. Shopping centre owner, Delancey, leads the development partnership behind the new scheme.While the centre’s major stores had gradually left over the previous months, many of the independent businesses were trading up to the final day. The closure also brought the end for the market which occupied the centre’s ‘moat’, which numbered around 60 stalls just under 2 years ago when Southwark’s planning committee first considered developer Delancey’s proposals for the centre’s redevelopment.Only 40 traders have been relocated to three sites – Castle Square, Perronet House and Elephant Park – ‘leaving about 40 traders who have been trading at least since January 2019 (as per the s106 agreement) without alternative premises’. A major aim now of the traders and their supporters is to secure space that could double the number of relocated traders, with a proposal to the Mayor for new market stalls at the Elephant.Up the Elephant solidarityA large protest organised by the Up the Elephant campaign (which includes the 35% Campaign) marked the centre’s closure and commemorated the people who had worked there, many from for black and ethnic minorities, and its role as a social hub for the Latin American community in particular. The campaign has long fought against the demolition and Delancey’s redevelopment plans and while the centre’s fate was lamented, speakers also noted the gains that the campaign had made – more social housing, affordable retail space as well as new premises for some displaced traders, along with transition and relocation funding.What the Papers say…There was extensive press and media coverage of the closure and protest, including articles on the SE1 website, Southwark News, South London Press, South West Londoner, Morning Star, The Guardian (and here), the Justice Gap, Vice and the Spanish language Express News UK (and here) and the BBC’s Drivetime with Eddie Nestor.Amongst the comments from protest speakers highlighted in SE1 website were those from Patria Roman of Latin Elephant, a mainstay of the campaign, and trader Emad Megahed.Patria expressed her sadness at the closure of the shopping centre but noted that campaigning efforts had yielded improvements in the support provided by developers and the council to local traders.‘I am incredibly proud of all we achieved,’ she said.‘If today we can say that some traders have been relocated, it is because the campaigners fought fiercely. Everything they have is because campaigners fought for it. Nothing came for free.’Emad said – ‘I am so proud of my community. I am proud that my community stuck together – whatever nationality … we all speak the same language, the language of love, and sticking together as one. That’s the lesson we want to teach our kids.’The Guardian noted ‘the shadow of decades of underinvestment’and commented-‘rarely has a managed decline been so obvious, or so long-winded’adding-‘you don’t need to love the shopping centre as it is right now (or at all), or worry about what happens after its demolition to the meeting places, public spaces and social bonds it offers, …. to raise questions about who must leave and who can stay, when the developers arrive in town’.Southwark News also covers the rebuttal of Southwark Council and Delancey claims that nearly all traders have been satisfactorily relocated. It quotes Latin Elephant, which has profiled those turned down for new premises or unable to find appropriate space, and who say-‘Our research has been widely documented, and it was carried out independently with an effort to enforce transparency and accountability. This has been discussed several times with Southwark Council and Delancey. It is unacceptable to see the closure of the Shopping Centre with many traders still without relocation, so we will continue our advocacy work in a constructive way to support the local community.’The Mayor responds to traders’ proposalA day before the centre’s closure Mayor Sadiq Khan responded to the traders’ proposal for new market stalls to accommodate traders who have not been allocated new premises.Southwark News and The South London Press highlighted the response. The Mayor, quoted in the SLP, says ‘It is disappointing that a number of small businesses still don’t have the certainty they need….in general I would welcome any workable solution that would provide these businesses with the space they need to trade’ while cautioning that the traders’ proposal ‘would be subject to various planning and licensing consents’ making it ‘not appropriate’ to comment on the specific plans being presented.The traders’ proposal is supported by Florence Eshalomi MP, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, local councillor Maria Linforth-Hall and London Assembly members Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry, 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.The traders and their supporters will now be building on this support to get new market stalls and kiosks for those traders without new premises and repair some of the damage done to their businesses and livelihoods, by the centre closure.
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Many thanks to all of you who joined us on our great protest to mark the closure of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre last Thursday. The large crowd marched round the shopping centre and heard impassioned and heart-felt speeches from Latin Elephant’s Patria Roman and shopping centre trader Emad Megahed, both mainstays of the Up the Elephant campaign.
The protest and closure drew widespread media coverage, with
articles in the SE1 website, Southwark News, South London Press, South West Londoner, Morning Star, The Guardian (and an opinion piece), the Justice Gap, Vice and the Spanish language Express News UK (and here) and the BBC’s Drivetime with Eddie Nestor.
See More photos of the protest here
Thank’s to Emile for photo
While the centre has closed the campaign in support of the traders continues. The day before the centre’s closure Mayor Sadiq Khan responded to the traders proposal to the Mayor for new market stalls at the Elephant to accommodate traders who have not been allocated new premises.
The Mayor has said ‘It is disappointing that a number of small businesses still don’t have the certainty they need….in general I would welcome any workable solution that would provide these businesses with the space they need to trade’.
The traders’ proposal is supported by Florence Eshalomi MP, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark, local councillor Maria Linforth Hall and London Assembly members Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for Mayor. The Camberwell and Peckham Constituency Labour Party also passed a motion in support of the traders’ Proposal at their meeting last week.
The traders and their supporters will now be building on this support to get new market stalls and kiosks for those traders without new premise and repair some of the damage done to their businesses and livelihoods, by the centre closure.
You can read more here.
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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.
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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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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|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
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Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homesfollow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend 35% Campaign
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.
We look forward to hearing your views.
Robert Weallans, Housing Strategy Manager
Housing Strategy and Business Support, Resident Services Division, Housing & Modernisation Department
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.