|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:
Oct 30, 2018 12:00 am
Campaigners mount legal challenge and object to insufficient temporary premises –
Elephant shopping Centre traders and local campaigners have taken the first step of a legal challenge to Southwark Council’s resolution to approve the shopping centre planning application, while also objecting to the small size of a proposed temporary facility for the traders’ relocation during the 5 years it would take to redevelop the centre.
The Public Interest Unit (PIU) of Lambeth Law Centre has written to Southwark, asking it to rescind the decision taken by the planning committee on 3 July 2018, or return the application to the committee. If the Council fails to do this an application will be made to the Planning Court to quash the decision.
The PIU is acting on behalf of a representative of the campaign groups Up the Elephant and Southwark Defend Council Housing. The campaign is supported by Southwark Law Centre and Latin Elephant. Barrister Sarah Sackman of Francis Taylor Building has agreed to represent the campaign.
The seven page pre-action letter gives two grounds for rescinding the permission. The first ground is that the planning committee was misled about public funding for the social housing in the scheme. The committee depended on an officer’s report in making its decision and this led it to believe that funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA), was secured for an increase of social rented housing, when this was not the case.
The second ground is that Southwark had not fulfilled its publIc sector equality duty (PSED) properly, neglecting the collective impact on the Latin American community across London, for whom the centre is a social and economic hub. Southwark had also not taken into account the impact on women business owners from black and ethnic minority backgrounds or on particular Latin American nationalities, such as Colombians, despite the detailed objections of Latin Elephant and Southwark Law Centre. The pre-action letter gives a deadline for reply of 24 Oct 2018 and this is still awaited.
The Mayor to respond
Aside from the legal challange, the Mayor Sadiq Khan will also be having his say, once the draft legal S106 agreement that would seal the planning approval is complete. Campaigners have written an open letter, asking him to reject the approval as it stands. Local ward councillors added their voice to the call, as did Assembly Member Sian Berry. Local Assembly Member Florence Eshalomi, on the question of traders, says “we cannot have these cultural communities being displaced.” Inside Housing reports that Sadiq Khan is keen to ensure that the development ‘delivers as much genuinely affordable housing as possible’.
A temporary new home for traders…
As well as contending with the consequences of any legal challenge or a call-in from the Mayor, developers Delancey must also provide a temporary facility for displaced independent traders, as a condition of planning approval for the shopping centre redevelopment.
Delancey have had to make another planning application to do this and propose a 2/3 storey building on the Castle Square market place, on their adjoining development Elephant One. Castle Square is on land owned by Southwark Council, but currently leased to Delancy on a peppercorn rent and a share of the revenue from the Square’s future street market. The shopping centre planning condition implies that Delancey will now be buying that land from Southwark.
The Castle Square facility would last for 5 years, until the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre development has been completed. Traders would then have the first right of refusal back into the shopping centre.
..but better is needed…
The facility is a valuable gain for the traders, won by their campaign for a fair deal. Latin Elephant and the Elephant Traders welcome the concession, but have also objected that the proposed building is too small and would have trading restrictions that would make it an impractical premises for many of the displaced businesses. Delancey’s proposals mention 33 independent traders, while the trader’s own estimate is that there is a need to provide for over 100 traders. There are also many other issues, including the level of rents and service charges, the security of tenacy arrangements, selection criteria and disability access.
Delancey have agreed to the establishment of a Traders Panel and traders want these issues, and the size of the relocation fund (currently at an insufficient £634,700) to be decided by the Panel, but trader representations on the remit and format of the Panel have gone unanswered, leaving them fearful about the make-up of the Panel and how it might deal with these issues.
Delancey is not there yet
Delancey only secured a resolution to approve their shopping centre application after three planning committee meetings. It must now get a further planning permission for the trader’s temporary facility on Castle Square, before they can undertake any shopping centre redevelopment.
We must ensure that the traders get the best possible deal, whatever happens; they need the temporary facility, but it must be better; if you would like to help achieve this, please submit an objection using our online web form.
Grosvenor takes the biscuit factory
Sep 25, 2018 01:00 am
Bermondsey’s Biscuit Factory redevelopment falls well short of policy requirements –
1300 new homes, no social rented
While most eyes have been on developer Delancey’s plans for the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, on the other side of Southwark an equally large proposal to build over a thousand homes without any social rented housing has been stealthily making its way towards planning permission.
Grosvesnor Estates bought the Biscuit Factory site in Bermondsey in 2013. The total site combines the former homes of biscuit manufacturer Peek Freans and the former Bermondsey campus of Lewisham and Southwark FE College. Peek Freans closed in 1989, the college left in 2013 and the site is currently occupied by a variety of businesses and offices.
Grosvenor proposes a £500m mixed-use development of 1343 new homes with 21000 sqm of other uses, and a new school. The homes will all be Build to Rent (BtR), owned and managed by Grosvenor; none of the homes will be for sale. Grosvesnor are offering 27.5% ‘affordable’ housing at an average of 75% market rents, near the allowed maximum of 80%. No social rented housing or ‘social rent equivalent’ affordable housing is proposed. Grosvenor offer to be ‘flexible’ about the range of affordable rents, but insist that the average of 75% must be maintained, so any gains at the bottom end would force rents at top end, beyond even 75%, or further reduce the overall quantum of affordable housing.
Southwark Council’s adopted housing policy does not support BtR. The housing policy for this part of Bermondsey requires 35% affordable housing, 70% of which should be social rent. This would amount to around 470 affordable units in total, 330 of which should be social rent. Policy also requires that the remainder of the affordable housing be shared ownership. By contrast, the affordable housing in Build to Rent is a form of affordable rent, at up to 80% market rent. Since 2011 Southwark have maintained that affordable rent does not meet the borough’s housing needs, but it is now in the middle of a sharp policy u-turn, which proposes allowing affordable rent (called Discounted Market Rent) in the latest version of the local plan, the New Southwark Plan (NSP) (see policy P4). Grosvenor are taking advantage of the situation (and employing the same tactic as Delancey) by relying on this so-called ‘emerging’ policy, rather than the policy as it stands, to get their BtR application through planning committee. The London Plan, Sadiq Kahn’s draft housing strategy 2016 and the government’s White Paper also provide encouragement to impatient BtR developers.
Even if ‘emerging’ policy were applied to allow a BtR development, Grosvenor’s affordable housing offer still comprehensively fails to fulfill its demands. The NSP Policy P4 for BtR requires 35% total affordable housing, made up of 12% ‘social rent equivalent’, 18% London Living Rent, and 5% for £60k-£90k incomes. Grosvenor falls short on every measure – 0% social rent equivalent, 0% London Living Rent, 100% at £60k-£90k market rent, and only 27.5% affordable housing in total.
Other areas where Grosvenor’s scheme fails policy tests are the number of studio flats – (146; there should be no more than about 70 (5%), according to Southwark’s Core Strategy) and the length of covenant keeping the BtR units as rented tenure (a 15 year covenant is offered, emerging policy requires thirty years). Management and lettings of affordable housing also appears to be a problem. Grosvenor makes no mention of using a registered provider and is evidently reluctant to extend tenant nominations to Southwark. Grosvenor stresses that while ‘it will work with LBS to enable prospective tenants to be sourced from any such list’ (ie Southwark’s proposed intermediate housing list)…The lettings and nominations arrangements will need to recognise that Grosvenor will need ultimate control over the occupation and management of the Proposed Development’.
Estimated profit of £99m not enough
As always the lack of affordable housing is justified by viability and it is no surprise to see that the viability assessment has been drafted by DS2, who did the same job for Delancey’s shopping centre development. In keeping with Southwark’s development viability policy we won’t get to see the full assessment until a week before it goes to planning committee, and have to rely on an executive summary for any idea of the scheme’s finances. The executive summary is deficient, policy-wise, in several respects; the construction, acquisition and other development costs and professional fees are lumped into one figure, instead of given seperately. Instead of developer profit (on cost) Grosvenor has submitted an ‘Internal Rate of Return’, which is given as an obscure percentage (7%), not as a readlily understandable cash figure. Despite the obscurity, we have run our own calculation of profit (on cost), by subtracting the total costs listed from the gross development value, which gives a figure of £99m. This is not enough for Grosvenor, who reckon a ‘reasonable return’ is 12% IRR and they‘therefore cannot afford to deliver any affordable housing’.
In the viability assessment summary Grosvenor’s total scheme costs are combined together as a lump sum of £755m. This is significantly higher than the £500m estimate stated in its marketing material, press release and media reports. Given that we are not privy to the full viability assessment or its appraisal by the Council’s appointed experts GVA, we can only hope that Grosvenor are asked to explain this £250m discrepancy…
Extract from Grosvenor’s marketing material
Grosvenor also claim that there can be no affordable housing because of a list of other benefits the scheme provides, including ‘the delivery of a new school’, despite Section 13 of its Planning Statement acknowledging that ‘the construction of the new school is anticipated to be funded by the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency)’.
All is not lost though, because Grosvenor generously propose that ‘notwithstanding the overall scheme viability, it would be willing to offer 27.5% affordable housing, delivered as discount market rented (“DMR”) homes (“Grosvenor’s Offer”).’ The average discount would be 25% ie 75% market rents, close to the maximum of 80% allowed for ‘affordable rent’. Exactly how much this will be we are left to guess – unlike Delancey’s proposals for the shopping centre Grosvenor does not provide any rent tables for either the market or affordable housing. Current new-build market rents in the SE16 postcode are upwards of £1500pcm.
The House of Westminster
The Grosvenor Estate ‘represents all the business activities of the Grosvenor Family, headed by the Duke of Westminster’. One of its three arms is Grosvenor Group which ‘represents the majority of the Grosvenor Estate’s urban property activities and is its largest business’. This in turn includes Grosvenor Americas, Grosvenor Asia Pacific and Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, which has £5.1bn of assets and is the applicant for the Biscuit Factory. The Biscuit Factory is also the number one development listed in the Grosvenor Britain & Ireland’s summary of developments.
Thanks to a secretive network of offshore firms, the Duke of Westminster is reputed to be worth £9bn and is the world’s richest man under 30. The Biscuit Factory on the other hand, is on the doorstep of South Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, two of six Southwark wards with neighbourhoods classified as being in the bottom 10% most deprived in the country, so the need for social rented housing hardly needs demonstrating.
Grosvenor’s spin on the Biscuit Factory that it will bring life to a ‘burgeoning new neighbourhood in London’, artfully propogated by the usual community engagement soft-soap, but if Grosvenor had any genuine interest in the community it would simply build the affordable housing that local planning policy requires and build social rented housing; the demands are not onerous. As it is, one of the very richest families in the country will be getting richer at the expense of people in one of its poorest areas, by depriving them of the homes they need.
This is not a planning application that deserves approval, by any measure. Southwark’s planning committee came close to throwing out Delancey’s shopping centre application; it should make no mistake this time and send Grosvenor and its dreadful planning application packing.
You can help by objecting to the application, either by following this link or by using the automated objection form below with our suggested wording.
Fill in the details below to object to Delancey’s revised planning application.
* indicates required
First Name: *
Comment: Dear Southwark Planning, I am writing to object to the planning application for the redevelopment of the TOWER BRIDGE BUSINESS COMPLEX, 100 CLEMENTS ROAD AKA THE BISCUIT FACTORY & BERMONDSEY CAMPUS SITE, KEETONS ROAD LONDON, SE16 4DG (ref:17/AP/4088). Affordable Housing: This application does not propose a policy compliant affordable housing mix. Southwark’s policy for this site requires a minimum of 35% affordable housing, of which 70% must be social rented. This should provide around 470 affordable units in total, about 330 of which should be social rent. Grosvenor is proposing 27.5% affordable housing, but not social rented housing. The affordable housing will also be affordable rent at an average 75% market rent, near the maximum 80% market rent allowed. Since 2011 Southwark Council has maintained that affordable rent does not meet the borough’s housing needs. The development will be on the doorstep of neighbourhoods that are amongst the most deprived in the country and the borough has a desperate need for social housing. There can be no justification for approving this application and it should not be considered until there is a policy compliant mix of affordable housing. Yours sincerely,