|Mar 30, 2019 12:00 am
Shopping centre traders left out in the cold –
Just thirty-six independent traders from the Elephant & Castle shopping centre have been allocated new space in which to trade, in the event of the centre’s demolition and redevelopment. Despite concerns raised by the Chair of the ‘Traders Panel’ and his fellow panel member, the figure is trumpeted in a self-congratulatory press-release from Southwark Council and belies the true situation which is that at least 40 traders have been left out in the cold, according to Latin Elephant, who champion the cause of all independant ethnic minority traders. Southwark News reported that 28 applications for space were rejected.
The new spaces are a mixture of permanent affordable units, at the base of the Elephant One Tower and on the ground floor of Perronet House (the ‘Elephant Arcade’), and temporary affordable units in Castle Square.
No room on the Park
Noticeably absent from the relocation sites are the affordable retail units on Elephant Park, formerly the Heygate estate. At over 1300 sqm, with circa 800sqm available in 2019, this is by far the largest of the four sites presented to Southwark’s planning committee as alternatives for displaced traders. This 800sqm of affordable retail comprises 8 units all located on one street (Sayer St), pictured in the CGI below (extracted from Lendlease’s marketing brochure).
Unlike the other 3 sites, Elephant Park is under Lendlease control, not Delancey or Southwark, so the suspicion is that they have no desire to help Delancey, or Southwark, relocate traders, notwithstanding the ‘imagination, empathy and dedication’ it claims to be bringing to the Elephant & Castle. The CGI image above and marketing image below suggest that Lendlease’s vision doesn’t aim to include the likes of Jenny’s Burgers or the Sundial Cafe.
Lendlease’s new retail units on Sayer Street nearing completion
A predictable debacle
A relocation strategy that only to relocates half of those who need relocation is a failure by any measure, more so when that failure is entirely predictable. Objectors, led by Latin Elephant, have consistently pointed out that Delancey’s half-hearted and dilatory ‘strategy’ simply did not provide enough space to accommodate all the traders who wish to stay at the Elephant and this has remainded the case, even as the number of traders has inevitably changed over time.
In the summer of 2017 Southwark estimated that there were about 130 independent businesses, occupying 4005sqm within the ‘red-line’ of the development (excluding the Hannibal House office space). Latin Elephant calculated that all available space, including Elephant Park (East St market spaces, nearly a mile down the road), could accommodate 84 businesses on 2,263 sqm – not much more than half the floorspace required and leaving at least 38 eligible buinesses out in the cold.
In March 2018, Latin Elephant objected to Delancey’s planning application, on the grounds that the amount of affordable retail space fell far short of the 4000 sqm needed. Nonetheless, the officer’s report for the application, lumped the new shopping centre’s affordable retail with the affordable retail of Elephant One and Elephant Park. The report noted that over a third of that space would not be completed until 2024, but nonetheless reached the comforting concluson that the total of 3866 sqm was ‘only marginally short…of the 4,005sqm of space currently occupied by independent retailers on the east (shopping centre) site’ (para 221).
By January 2019, Perronet House had been approved and Castle Square itself went to planning committee, so the officer’s report for this wisely drops any reference to the shopping centre, to reach an affordable retail total of 2,859sqm. The report acknowledges that ‘whilst this would be less than the 4,005sqm currently understood to be occupied by independent businesses on the east site, some businesses may be able to operate from smaller premises’ (para 57). Southwark now identified 80 businesses in the redline and gave verbal assurances that there ‘should be sufficient’ units to accommodate everyone.
In an FOI response in March 2019 Southwark gave the number of traders as 79 (an underestimate that treats the several businesses in Arch 7 as one).
Wishful thinking and indifference
While Southwark’s approach to relocating centre traders can be characterised as wishful thinking, Delancey’s can be characterised as indifference. It’s starting position was that providing affordable retail ‘would be unviable and inapproriate’ (para 4.63) and that a relocation strategy would only be forthcoming, once Delancey had secured planning approval (an aim it acheived). Only the concerted efforts of local campaigners and councillors has dragged concessions from Delancey, including Castle Square, a relocation fund, as well as the affordable retail units, but more is needed. Traders must be given more space for relocation and securer leases; the centre itself needs urgent maintenance and promotion, so that businesses remain viable. The relocation fund of £634,700 is not enough to for the number of traders who need its help.
It’s not too late
In the meantime, it’s not too late to put a stop to this disastrous and inequitable scheme. The application for a judicial review of the shopping centre planning permission continues its legal progress. We want the permission quashed, for a scheme with more social rented housing and a better deal for traders.
CrowdJustice launch – TUES MARCH 5 2019
We are now very close to launching our CrowdJustice appeal for funds to quash the Elephant shopping centre planning approval.
We have had two great fundraising events, with the Distriandina Party and the Film Night. We have now set a target of £5000 for our CrowdJusticecrowdfunding appeal.
CAN YOU MAKE A DONATION?
Can you get help us off to a flying start? Can you make a donation on the first day of our appeal on TUES 5 MARCH 2019?
We then have only 30 days to reach our target of £5000. If we can raise a good chunk of this in the first couple of days it will encourage others to donate.
The donation can be any amount – all are welcome, big or small!
Delancey want to build nearly a thousand new homes, but only 116 will be social rented – and we will have to wait nearly ten years to get them. Delancey may even get away with providing no social rented housing at all.
We think this is wrong and that is why we are going to court to try to overturn the permission. We want at least 42 more social rented homes and we know the Mayor has the money to pay for them. We want a better deal for shopping centre traders – a bigger relocation fund and lower rents.
Our community deserves a development scheme that provides homes and shops that are truly affordable for local people, not one that short-changes us.
You can find out more HERE
Nov 12, 2018 12:00 am
Southwark demolishing and selling off council homes faster than it’s building them –
In 2014, as part of its manifesto pledge Southwark Council’s administration announced an “ambitious but realistic plan to build 11,000 new council homes” across the borough over the next 30 years. Concerns were raised by us and in the local press that this would fail to make up for the thousands of council homes currently being lost to ongoing estate regeneration, void disposal policies and Right to Buy applications over the next 30 years.
Extract from an Oct 2014 article in the local newspaper
Council leader Peter John subsequently issued an open letter insisting that the 11,000 council homes would be over and above the existing stock count – i.e. a net increase:
Extract from Council leader Peter John’s open letter
Councillor John went one step further to pledge that the first 1500 net additional council homes would be finished by 2018:
Extract from 2014 Cabinet report
Four years on and we have taken a look at whether Councillor John has delivered on his manifesto pledge. Official statistics from the government’s live tables on local authority dwelling stock show that since the manifesto pledge in 2014 there has been a net reduction in Southwark’s council housing stock of 476 council homes.
Extract from the government’s Live Table 116
The figures aren’t saying that Southwark hasn’t built any new council homes, only that the rate at which is building has not kept up with the rate at which it is knocking them down and selling them off. The Council has or will demolish over 7,500 council homes as part of regeneration schemes, including 1200 council homes in the Heygate estate regenerationand circa 2400 on the Aylesbury estate.
In addition, it has sold 1300 council homes under the Right to Buy since 2012 and has an ongoing policy of selling every council home that becomes vacant which is valued at £300k or more.
Meanwhile, this 30th Oct 2018 Cabinet report confirms that the council has built just 262 council homes over 5 years (para 12).
The Cabinet report confirms that an additional 239 units of developer-built (S106) affordable housing have been bought by Southwark, to become council housing (para 17). One such example is Blackfriars Circus, where the Council has bought 56 homes for £10m from developer Barratt.
A problem with this method of buying council housing is that it does not actually increase the net supply of social housing – the same units would otherwise have been bought and let by a housing association anyway. Further, Southwark is denying itself the benefit of the S106 contribution, by paying for something a housing association would have paid for anyway – and, rather perversely, denying itself funds for building units that would actually increase the net supply.
It is also not clear whether all the new homes have been let at council rents. We have blogged previously about new ‘council homes’ now being let at a percentage of market rent (40%) rather than social rent (which is currently approx 20% of market rent).
In any event, 112 of these new ‘council homes’ are temporary accommodation units in hostels (Willow Walk – 75 units, Good Neighbours House – 37 units) and are let at LHA rent levels, which are more than twice current council rent levels.
Even if we do count all these new homes as council homes at council rents, the short and long term trend is clearly one of an ongoing decline rather than net increase in the number of council homes: