Latest news on Elephant traders’ deputation this evening.

Dear Friend

Yesterday we were notified by Southwark Council that it is ‘unlikely’ that the Elephant traders’ deputation will be heard the Council Assembly meeting this evening. Southwark has suggested as an alternative that the deputation attends the Cabinet meeting on 7 Dec.

We are naturally very disappointed with this news, particularly as it comes so late in the day. We have asked Southwark and the councillors to reconsider, but as yet we cannot say what the final response will be and may not know until this evening.

The Yes to Fair Redevelopment demonstration is still going ahead and will rally outside outside Council Assembly at 6.30pm. The march will begin at the Vauban Car Park, Alscot Rd, opposite Spa Gardens, SE1 3GG (Bus 1 and 78) at 6.00pm.

Many thanks for your continuing support and please CLICK HERE for a trailer of an upcoming film on the traders plight (thanks to Emile Burgoyne).


Copyright © 2021 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

Elephant Amenity Network

18 Market Place
Blue Anchor Lane


Southwark SE16 3UQ

United Kingdom

Elephant traders’ deputation this Wednesday, 24th November

Dear Friend

Traders’ deputation to the Southwark Assembly

Many Elephant shopping centre traders still have no new premises a year after the centre closed, despite Southwark Council’s promises that ‘no-one would be left’ behind in the Elephant and Castle’s regeneration.

The traders are sending a deputation to Southwark Council’s Assembly,160 Tooley St, SE1 2QH this Weds 24 Nov. 7pm.

The deputation will be demanding that Southwark Council does more to help the traders. Southwark has legal agreements with developers Delancey and Lendlease for the traders’ relocation – these agreements must be enforced.

image image

The deputation will include representatives from Pricebusters DIY shop and La Bodequita restaurant, two of the Elephant’s longest-standing businesses, as well as from the Elephant Arcade, one of the relocation sites. There will also be a representative of the market stall holders, who are still negotiating with Southwark Council for new market stall pitches at the Elephant and Castle.

The Assembly meeting is open to the public – please join us and give your support!

Yes to Fair Redevelopment demonstration.

You can also join the ‘Yes to Fair Redevelopment demonstration’, in the run-up to the Assembly meeting.

The demo is marching to Tooley St for a rally outside Council Assembly at 6.30pm. The march will assemble at the Vauban Car Park, Alscot Rd, opposite Spa Gardens SE1 3GG (Bus 1 and 78) at 6.00pm.

The demo is to let the Council know that unfair development of council estates will not be accepted. You can read more here and here.



Copyright © 2021 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

Elephant Amenity Network

18 Market Place
Blue Anchor Lane

LondonSouthwark SE16 3UQ

United Kingdom

Meet Olympians, discover local walks and flu vaccine reminder

Southwark Council header

Try out Southwark’s newest sports facility and meet Olympians on Saturday 6 November

Come along to the opening of the Southwark Park Sports and Athletics Centre on Saturday 6 November. Book for free tasters sessions including tag rugby, introductions to long jump and sprint running and disability sports sessions. Join Olympic Champion, Christine Ohuruogu; Peckham-born Tokyo Olympic medallist, Imani-Lara Lansiquot; Team GB athlete, Conrad Williams; and professional freestyle footballer Steve Gray, who will be trying out the new facility.

Join a gym in Southwark for under £25 per month

Get unlimited use of gym, swim and exercise classes at Southwark Park Sports and Athletics Centre, Seven Islands Leisure Centre, Surrey Docks Fitness and Watersports Centre, Camberwell Leisure Centre and Peckham Pulse Leisure Centre. Kick-start your exercise routine and sign up for a gym today.

Free swim and gym in Southwark

Did you know Southwark residents can use swimming pools and gyms at our leisure centres, free of charge, at certain times? Find out more and register for free swim and gym.

Discover local walking routes: follow in the steps of Harry Potter, Bridget Jones and Del Trotter

Discover Southwark with our illustrated walking maps. Pick from 12 routes which include film locations, Dulwich’s unusual architecture, flora and fauna, and myths and legends of the borough.

Ultra Low Emission Zone has expanded: check your vehicle

The Ultra Low Emission Zone expanded up to the North and South Circular Roads on Monday 25 October 2021. Check your vehicle now via the TfL website.

Survey: your views on public art in Southwark

Public art is art that is in public spaces and is for everyone to see. It is often commissioned by councils or other public organisations. We want our pubic spaces to better celebrate our diverse communities. That’s why we want to hear your views about public art in Southwark.

Find out if you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine

The flu virus kills almost 11,000 people and hospitalises tens of thousands more in England in an average year. It’s more important than ever to get your flu jab this year. Find out if you are now eligible to get a free flu vaccine.

Plans approved for 162 new council homes at two developments in Southwark

New Homes image We have permission to build 162 new council homes at two developments in St Giles and Peckham

The development in St Giles will see 79 new council homes built at Sceaux Gardens. The development in Peckham will see 83 new council homes built at Bells Gardens Estate.

Get the Transport for London app to help you travel safely across London

If you’re out and about you can plan your journeys across London using the TfL Go app. Get live bus and train times and quieter times to travel, all Tube, London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and tram lines updates, walking and cycling routes, and accessible routes using the step-free mode.

New service launched to help people get online

We have launched a new digital inclusion service for residents to provide information, help and guidance about how to get online or improve their internet skills. If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from this service please get in touch by calling our helpline 07783 776 066.

How to keep yourself safe during COVID-19

Kieron Williams Header

Dear resident

I’m sure you will have seen the news that COVID-19 infection rates across the country are rising again. I’m writing to ask for your help in keeping rates in Southwark low, so we can all keep each other safe.

From the vaccine, to face coverings, to tests, to keeping rooms well ventilated, there are lots of details on the things you can do to help below.

I want to thank everyone who’s worked so hard to do these things over recent months.

The council has been working hard with other organisations to help keep Southwark safe. Whether it’s been supporting vulnerable residents through our community hub, working with colleagues in the NHS to put on more local vaccine clinics, sending mobile testing vans into our communities or supporting the vaccine roll out for 12–15-year-olds in secondary schools, it’s been fantastic to see.

However, with the number of people catching COVID-19 across the country now high and rising there is a very strong chance rates will rise in Southwark too. We can all help keep them low.  That’s why I encourage you to:

  • wear a face mask on public transport and when in crowded enclosed spaces
  • get vaccinated if you’re eligible
  • get the booster vaccination if you’re eligible
  • get tested regularly even if you don’t have symptoms
  • self-isolate and book a PCR test if you have symptoms
  • keep rooms ventilated if you’re meeting with others inside

If you would like to do even more there are also lots of ways you can volunteer to help in your community.

Please see below for more information on how to keep yourself and others safe.

Thank you


Get the recommended number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to protect yourself

If you’re aged 16+, you can get your first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose in different ways:

Get your questions or concerns about the vaccine answered on this NHS website.

Booster vaccines for people most at risk from COVID-19

If you’ve had your second dose at least six months ago, you’ll be contacted about your booster jab if you are:

  • Living in a residential care home for older adults
  • Aged 50 or over
  • A frontline health and social care worker
  • Aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk of severe COVID-19
  • An adult household contact of an immunosuppressed person/people.

Vaccines for 12–15-year-olds

12–15-year-olds are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the school-based vaccination programme (parental consent will be sought). Vaccinations for 12–15-year-olds can also be booked online. There are now walk-ins vaccine clinics for 12–15-year-olds too. You are advised to book online to avoid disappointment.

Read more about the vaccine programme for 12–15-year-olds.

Find out about pregnancy, fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine

Watch a 30 minute Q&A about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine. GP Registrar, Dr Juliet Grenham covers the importance of being vaccinated if you’re pregnant or thinking about starting a family.

Get tested for COVID-19 twice a week for free

You should get tested regularly, even if you’ve been vaccinated, and don’t have symptoms. 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms. You’re advised to do a rapid lateral flow test twice a week (every 3 or 4 days). If you don’t have symptoms, there are different ways to get COVID-19 tests in Southwark.

Get a collect code to pick up COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests from a pharmacy

You now need to get a code to pick up tests from your pharmacy by creating an online account or calling 119. You will need a new code for each collection. You can pick up rapid tests for your or another household, but you must get a separate code for each.

Continue to wear a face covering to protect yourself

It’s not mandatory, but still advisable to wear a face covering (unless exempt) in crowded places. Face coverings must still be worn if you are traveling on the Transport for London network. Cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings work best if they are made with multiple layers (at least two) and form a good fit around the face.

Ventilate rooms for indoor visitors, or meet outside

Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, or passing it on, minimise the amount of time you spend indoors with people you do not live with. Meet outside if possible.

Advice on potential COVID-19 related scams

Find out how to be aware of potential COVID-19 scams in person and online and how to protect yourself.

Volunteer to share key information about COVID-19 with your community

We’re working with Community Southwark to find volunteers to keep people up-to-date with COVID-19 advice, mental health or financial support, and food security. Ambassadors receive training, resources and networking opportunities. Find out about volunteering and how to sign up.

Financial support if your income has been affected by the pandemic

Get support if you’re under increased financial pressure due to COVID-19. Advice includes applying for Universal Credit, what to do if you can’t pay your rent, Council Tax, or homeowner annual and major works service charges, and COVID-19 self-isolation payments.

Help for vulnerable residents

Our community hub was set up to help residents during the COVID-19 crisis. It can help you if you need:

  • Food, medicine or other items delivered
  • Financial advice
  • Help for someone you know
  • Advice about where you can get support and information on childcare, education and your local mutual aid groups.

Contact the community hub for support.

Invitation to Elephant exhibition this Saturday 25th September

 Dear Friend

You are cordially invited to a
 Photographic exhibition to mark one year since Elephant and Castle shopping centre closed.

An exhibition of photographs of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre will be taking place this Saturday 25 September 2021 at flat 70 on Sayer St, SE17 1FY at the Elephant and Castle, opening 12 noon, to 8pm.
The exhibition will emphasise the importance of what was lost when the shopping centre was closed, but also highlights the successes and struggles of the small independent traders since losing their premises and market stalls.

 A relocated traders walking tour will start at 2pm.
There will be speeches from invited guests at 3pm.
Various performances will also happen throughout the day. 

The exhibition has been organised by flat 70 co-founders Anthony Badu and Senam Badu and Latin Elephant, the local charity which campaigns and advocates on behalf of all traders at the Elephant. It will form part of a wider ‘Elephant Carnival’ which aims to celebrate the resilience of the local community.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Copyright © 2021 Elephant Amenity Network, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Elephant Amenity Network18 Market PlaceBlue Anchor LaneLondon, Southwark SE16 3UQUnited Kingdom

35% Campaign update – Lendlease’s final plot for Elephant Park – offices, not homes

Sep 17, 2021 01:00 am

Southwark to change rules to allow office block on former Heygate estate.Southwark Council is set to change its planning rules to enable developer Lendlease to build an office block on the site of the former Heygate estate. The block would be on the final development plot of Elephant Park, Plot H1, which is earmarked for housing under Lendlease’s current planning consent. Lendlease has now applied to replace this consent with an entirely new one, to build an office block, not housing.Southwark is also ready to change the New Southwark Plan (NSP) to pave Lendlease’s way to a successful approval of the application. The change will allow an increase in the office floorspace on Elephant Park, from the maximum of 5,000 sqm that Lendlease is presently allowed, to the 49,565 sqm it is proposing in its new planning application. Southwark has said ‘an office development on this plot is broadly supported’ in the ‘Conclusion’ of pre-application discussions with Lendlease.Late changes to the New Southwark PlanThe change to the NSP, which governs all development throughout the borough, is part of a ‘main modification’ to the Plan. The modification MM7 would allow 60,000 sqm of ‘employment floorspace’ to be built specifically on Elephant Park; at the moment the local plan envisages a maximum of 30,000 sqm of ‘business floorspace’ for the whole Elephant and Castle Opportunity Area.The NSP, including the main modifications, is in the final stages of approval by government inspectors. Comments on all proposed modifications can be made up to a deadline of 24 September 2021.From open space to office spaceA good part of Plot H1 sits on land that was covenanted for use as open space, in perpetuity, when ownership was devolved to Southwark in 1985, on the abolition of the Greater London Council (GLC). In 2014 Southwark transferred ownership of the Heygate land, including Plot H1, to Lendlease, removing the covenant in the process.In 2019 Lendlease took advantage of a poorly drafted s106 legal agreement with Southwark to increase the maximum number of homes allowed on Elephant Park by 220 units, to 2,689. Lendlease is using ten plots of land for these homes, instead of the eleven available, leaving itself a spare plot. This is the justification for the new planning application – Lendlease claims that they have fulfilled their housing obligations under the current planning consent, so Plot H1 can be used for an office development, which would create jobs.Lendlease does not say in their new planning application how many homes could be built on Plot H1, if it were used for housing as originally intended, but by making a rough comparison with neighbouring plot H7, a capacity for about 340 homes can be calculated.Lendlease on manoeuvresLendlease’s Plot H1 planning application is the latest of a succession of self-advantageous manoeuvres. As well as increasing the number of homes on the estate and squeezing them into fewer plots, Lendlease has also announced that over 900 of the free-market homes would no longer be for sale, but kept under their ownership, and let to private renters, not sold. Before this, they marketed and sold substantial numbers of homes overseas . This all followed the notorious 2010 Heygate regeneration agreement, which reduced the affordable housing to 25%, from 35%, with a meagre 79 social rented units (later inching up to 100 units).Southwark Council is now poised to give up a prime housing site (in the middle of an opportunity area, on former council estate land) at Lendlease’s behest. Southwark is doing this while embroiled in controversies across the borough about infill development on council estate sites, none of which are anywhere near the size of the plot it is about to give up.Object!Lendlease’s argument that offices will good for employment is entirely self-serving. They did not make this proposal for Plot H1 in 2012, when applying for their first planning permission. Instead, they have tricked their way into a position where they have built more homes than originally consented, on a smaller space, and now want to squeeze in an extra office block for good measure.Southwark Council have aided Lendlease’s application by proposing a ten-fold increase in ‘employment space’ on Elephant Park, in the New Southwark Plan – a huge uplift, introduced to boost the chances of an office-space application being approved.There has been much speculation about whether Southwark’s recent change of leadership has resulted in a change of direction for the Council.This is the planning committee’s chance to prove that the Council won’t roll over to Lendlease indefinitely. The committee must stop this cynical attempt to manipulate planning policy to Lendlease’s advantage and reject this planning application.Once this is done, Southwark should start a sensible discussion on what is to be done with this prime site, with the focus on the local community’s real needs, including affordable housing, with all the amenities and open surroundings needed to make life liveable in London.470 comments and objections have been made to this application.If you would like to add your objection, you can do so here.You can use this model objection text or view our full letter of objection here.
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Recent Articles:Former Council leader glides through revolving doors
Legal battle for the Elephant and Castle shopping centre ends
Southwark rips up Aylesbury Area Action Plan
Action on Southwark’s empty homes
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35% Campaign

New adult learning courses, activities for children, food, music and more


There’s lots on this summer in Southwark!


Southwark summer

What’s on for children, young people and families


Visit Elephant Springs: a new natural play area in SE1

Elephant springs is a new urban oasis in Elephant and Castle with rocks, streams, sand and water fountains. If you’re local, pop along for a unique experience.

Enter a graphic art competition

Our annual summer art competition for ages 7 to 17 is back! Share your art and win prizes for you and your school. Your drawing can be of an existing graphic or comic character, scene from a book or you can create your own.

Time to go adventuring

Enjoy the exciting outdoors at Mint Street, Peckham Rye and Ellen Brown Adventure Playgrounds. The free summer programme runs until Friday 27 August and is open to all children aged 8 to 15 years.

Free: join pan-disability inclusive sport sessions

Join an inclusive summer of sport festival throughout August in celebration of the Paralympics, including a free virtual inclusive sport festival on 24 and 25 August, featuring online sports activities, creative sessions and insight panels. 

Community jam session on the Kingswood estate

Celebrating the expressive and creative voice of young people with dance, music and words. No need to book for this family-friendly event, just drop in with a picnic and enjoy. 21 August 2021, 3pm to 6pm.

Songs and rhymes in the garden

Sing your favourite rhymes in Dulwich Library Garden, while baby listens, sings along and dances to the rhythm. Suitable for children aged 0 to 4 years. 27 August 2021, 11am to 11.30am.

>> Check out all our summer listings for children and young people

What’s on for all ages


Music, food, a dog show and more at Dulwich Park fair

Dulwich Park fair on 5 September is a free outdoor, family-friendly event which includes a fun fair, farm, interactive performances and a dog show. There will also be local musicians, brass bands, choirs and dance acts, as well as food, craft, drink and charity stalls.

Art and music with a view

Bold Tendencies’ Visual Arts Programme, ‘Arcadia’, features performances and new works in the site’s unique spaces at Peckham multi-story car park, with panoramic London views. Check out the programme which runs until 18 September 2021.

Yoga, Pilates and artisan market stalls in SE1

Courage Yard in SE1 is hosting a Wellness day on Saturday 21 August featuring yoga, Pilates and stretch classes from local instructors. There will also be artisan market stalls selling kombucha, vegan food, candles, and more!

Elephant Arcade Carnival 

Elephant Arcade celebrates Carnival over the Bank Holiday Weekend. From 27 to 30 August this new shopping arcade in Elephant and Castle will host free events for all the family. Expect music, costumes, a carnival catwalk and face-painting. There will also be special offers and give-aways from the traders throughout the weekend.

*Please enjoy events safely, and remember hands, face and space.*

>> Check out all our summer listings 

COVID-19 updates

Everyone aged 16 or over can now get vaccinated

If you’re 16 or 17, the NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll be invited to a local NHS service such as a GP surgery. Some children aged 12 to 15 may also be eligible for a vaccine.

Everyone else can get a COVID-19 vaccine in south east London – no need to book

There are lots of ways to get vaccinated, including at regular walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and King’s College hospitals, plus other places across south east London. Check the individual COVID-19 clinics for full details and to see who offers free Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines. You don’t need to book, or provide proof of address, immigration status, or an NHS number.

Get tested for COVID-19 twice a week, free of charge

It’s important we continue to get tested regularly, even if we’ve been vaccinated. If you don’t have symptoms there are different ways to get tested in Southwark:

  GovDelivery logo

Free adult swim sessions, cage cricket and bitesize festival fun for all

There’s lots on this summer in Southwark!

Southwark summer

What’s on

Free, adult swim sessions are coming back

We’re excited to restart our free swimming lessons for residents aged over 16 years, this September. Being active is a great way to prevent illness and boost mental wellbeing. Sign up now to secure your place and come and learn to swim in a friendly, supportive environment, at your own pace.

Some Bitesize festival fun is heading to Southwark Park

Come down to Bermondsey Bitesize on Saturday 14 August, 12noon to 6pm to enjoy a traditional funfair, family activities and good food. Live music on the bandstand is headlined by reggae band Indika, led by Bermondsey’s own Phillip Poleon. Free entry via Jamaica Road, all ages welcome.

Let a magical orb take you on an outdoor sonic adventure

Go on a tour of London Bridge, guided by sound alone. £5 per ticket/orb, book for an individual or up to a group of four people per orb. Children are welcome when accompanied by an adult. Friday 13 August to Sunday 15 August 2021, various times.

Get your BMX skills up to an Olympic level in Burgess Park

If you were inspired by Kye Whyte’s silver medal in the BMX racing, then book a session at the track in Peckham where he trained. BMX Track London offers experienced coaching, equipment hire and bookable sessions for riders of all abilities.

*Please enjoy events safely, and remember hands, face and space.*

>> Check out all our summer listings 

What’s on for children, young people and families

Free ‘Create and Play’ session in Burgess Park tomorrow

Children aged six to 16 years are invited to our ‘Summer of Play’ pop up event in Chumleigh Gardens, Burgess Park on Saturday 14 August. Children can try six different fun and creative activities run by artists and a gardener, both in the morning and afternoon.

Time to go adventuring

Enjoy the exciting outdoors at Mint Street, Peckham Rye and Ellen Brown Adventure Playgrounds. The free summer programme runs until Friday 27 August and is open to all children aged 8 to 15 years.

Babies invited to rhyme time

Babies love to listen to the words of rhymes and dance and move to the rhythm. Come along with your baby and enjoy popular nursery rhymes on Thursday 19 August, 11am to 11.30am. For ages 0 to 4. It’s free, but booking is essential.

Six cricketers go into the cage, one will emerge victorious

Cage Cricket is dynamic, visual, high-octane entertainment. Sessions run until 29 August for those aged 12 to 16 years.

>> Check out all our summer listings for children and young people

COVID-19 updates

Everyone aged 16 or over can now get vaccinated

If you’re 16 or 17, the NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You’ll be invited to a local NHS service such as a GP surgery.

Everyone else can get a COVID-19 vaccine in south east London – no need to book

There are lots of ways to get vaccinated, including at regular walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and King’s College hospitals, plus other places across south east London. Check the individual COVID-19 clinics for full details and to see who offers free Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines. You don’t need to book, or provide proof of address, immigration status, or an NHS number.

Get tested for COVID-19 twice a week for free

It’s important we continue to get tested regularly, even if we’ve been vaccinated. If you don’t have symptoms there are different ways to get tested in Southwark:

GovDelivery logo

35% Campaign update – Former Council leader glides through revolving doors


Aug 11, 2021 01:00 am

Former Southwark Council leader Peter John OBE has joined the long list of councillors and ex-council staff now working for property developers. Cllr John led Southwark from 2010 to 2020, and was chair of London Councils from 2018 to 2020.

Cllr John was recently appointed Chairman of the Terrapin Group, a lobbying firm, whose client list is dominated by property developers and real-estate investors. Cllr John joins three other serving councillors, from different boroughs, as a Terrapin ‘practitioner’, but in the more senior chairman’s role.

Terrapin was founded by former Tory politician Peter Bingle in 2012 and has acquired a reputation for lobbying local government politicians to help developers get planning consents.

The Public Affairs Board Register shows Elephant & Castle developer Delancey is one of Terrapin’s oldest clients, having benefited from their consultancy services since 2013. The Elephant Park (formerly Heygate estate) developer Lendlease was also on Terrapin’s books for 4 years, from 2013 to 2017.

Other Terrapin clients with schemes in Southwark include Barratt Homes (from 2013 to 2017; Blackfriars Circus, Maple Quays, the Galleria, Redwood Park); Telford Homes (from 2019; Bermondsey Works), Hollybrook Homes Ltd (2018 – 2020; Eagle Wharf) and Bellway Homes (from 2013; Elmington estate regeneration, Phase 3).

The biggest developer in the Old Kent Rd Opportunity Area, Avanton Ltd, was also a Terrapin client from 2017 to 2019. Avanton is behind the approved Ruby Triangle development and the upcoming Gasworks and Carpetright schemes, which together will have over 2,100 homes. Ruby Triangle Properties Ltd was also on Terrapin’s books, from 2017 to 2019, as was its affordable housing partner A2 Dominion, for different periods.

Other developers with smaller schemes in Southwark, who are or have been registered with Terrapin include Higgins Homes plc (Cherry Garden School); Southern Grove, who are looking to develop two sites (the ‘Brooklyn’, near Rotherhithe tunnel, and the St James, Bermondsey) and Pocket Living (Varcoe Rd and Credon House).

Peter John’s relationship with Terrapin’s Peter Bingle spans most of the years of his leadership at Southwark. The Council’s Register of Interests shows a number of dinners paid for by Terrapin, Bingle himself or his previous company – the disgraced Bell Pottinger.

The announcement of Cllr John’s appointment as Terrapin chair gives us an opportunity to look back at some of the controversial schemes signed off during his 10 years as Council leader.

Heygate estate redevelopment

In July 2010, just months after taking the reins at Southwark, Peter John signed a development agreement with Lendlease for the demolition of the 1,200 homes of the Heygate estate and its replacement by a private development with only 25% affordable housing – 10% less than Southwark’s policy requirement – and with a minimum of social rented housing. In the event, Lendlease has built nearly 3,000 homes on the site, with just 100 at social rent.

It emerged that the deal involved a payment to the Council of just £50m for the 25 acre site – barely enough to cover the cost incurred by the Council in emptying the estate.

Later, in 2012 and 2014 Cllr John came under fire for accepting tickets to the London Olympics, paid for by Lendlease and for making a trip to Cannes, to attend the MIPIM developer jamboree.

Aylesbury estate redevelopment

In 2014, Peter John signed-off the sale of the 2,759 council homes and 60 acres of land of the Aylesbury estate for demolition and redevelopment to housing association Notting Hill Genesis. Whilst the deal required Notting Hill to provide 50% ‘affordable housing’ it failed to secure any of the 3,500 proposed new homes as council homes and would have entailed a net loss of social rented housing.

Delays and political pressure forced Southwark into a U-turn last year, when it agreed to pay Notting Hill £193m to convert 581 new homes in phase 1 of the scheme into council homes. Southwark has also now committed to no net loss of social rented housing.

Canada Water redevelopment

In 2018, Peter John signed off the sale of 15 hectares of council-owned land at Canada Water to developer British Land.

The deal secured 35% affordable housing, but this is below the 50% requirement for publicly-owned land, set by the Mayor in his London Plan 2021 (Policy H4A).

It is unknown what land receipts (if any) the Council will receive in return for its 15 hectares, because the development agreement with British Land has been heavily redacted.

Elephant & Castle shopping centre

Also in 2018, Cllr John took the unusual step of announcing his support for Delancey’s proposed redevelopment of the shopping centre despite it having been knocked-back by the planning committee earlier in the year. Amongst other things, the scheme, while exceeding density limits, didn’t meet minimum social rented housing requirements, or offer any relocation support to existing traders.

It was only after a concerted local campaign (leading to legal action) that Delancey improved its offer from 33 to 116 social rented homes and agreed to provide relocation units and financial support for some of the traders.

Southwark also boosted Delancey by adopting Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers to help clear the site of traders. This little-publicised power gives local authorities a great deal of legitimate leverage in its negotiations with developers; if a site is not empty, it cannot be developed. But rather than use the power to get a better deal for traders, it stood behind Delancey, whose own hand was strengthened at the traders’ expense.

Letting developers off the hook

Aside from the shopping centre, Delancey has also been involved in other schemes in the borough, including Elephant Central (formerly Elephant One), with 272 student rooms and 374 private residences and 185 Park Street (next to Tate Modern) with 69 new homes – neither development has any social rented housing.

These schemes are not exceptions. Our research shows that only 456 new homes, out of 11,863 units in 25 major developments, approved in Southwark from 2006 to 2016 were social rented tenure – 3.8%. Had these schemes to complied with minimum policy requirements then around 2,500 social rented homes would have been delivered in total.

What we say

Confidence in the planning system has been badly dented by high profile schemes not delivering the affordable housing we need. That confidence is not improved when the former leader of the council becomes the chair of a lobbying firm whose business is ‘influencing government’, including ‘public authorities’, such as councils.

The Terrapin Group boasts that it is a ‘market leader’ and has ‘a superb track record of helping our clients achieve successful planning consents right across Greater London’ and invites inquiries for ‘potential assignments’.

We cannot know for whether any of the developments featured above are examples of such successful ‘assignments’. More recent developments, such as along the Old Kent Rd, have at least 35% affordable housing, most social rented and so it looks as if the current administration may not be cut from quite the same cloth as the previous one. But more needs to be done; the bar has been stuck at 35% affordable housing for too long and should be raised to 50%. To help achieve this behind-the-scenes lobbying by developers must be ended. Southwark can take a lead on this by taking two immediate measures;

  1. No sitting councillor should also work for a public affairs company whose clients are property developers and investors. It is not enough that councillors do not engage in such work within their own borough, as required by the Public Affairs Code. They should not be trying to persuade fellow councillors in other boroughs to approve schemes either. Planning decisions must be seen to made solely on the merits of the application, with all discussions open to public view.
  2. A local register of public affairs companies for the borough should be established. Every applicant for at least major schemes should be required to list their agents, including public affairs companies.

These measures would not only help maintain the integrity of the planning system, but might also avoid this kind of damaging headline:

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Legal battle for the Elephant and Castle shopping centre ends

Jun 12, 2021 09:54 am

Final decision goes Delancey’s way

The Appeal Court has upheld the High Court decision allowing developers Delancey to proceed with the demolition and redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, after it found that there were no grounds for reversing the High Court’s decision.

The legal challenge was mounted as part of a hard-fought 4-year campaign by Up the Elephant. This brought together housing campaigners (including the 35% Campaign), students, tenants’ groups, local councillors and trade unionists, in the fight for more social rented housing and a better deal for traders displaced by the proposed development.

The decision will now allow the mixed-use development of new shops and homes to proceed, with 116 social rented units, out of 979 ‘Build to Rent’ homes.

Despite the legal outcome the Up the Elephant Campaign secured many improvements to the original proposals, compared to the baseline of the original application, made in October 2016.

  • Increase of social rented housing from 33 units of ‘social rent equivalent’, owned and managed by the developer, to 116 proper social rented units, owned and managed by the Council or housing association
  • Provision of affordable retail space
  • An established traders’ panel
  • Temporary traders’ premises on Castle Square
  • Trader relocation to Elephant Arcade (Perronet House)
  • Trader relocation and assistance funds of £634,000 and £200,000
  • 15-year affordable retail lease

What we have lost

Despite these improvements Delancey’s scheme still remained a bad one, hence the legal challenge. The shopping centre may have been shabby, but it housed one of the largest bingo halls in Britain, much used by older people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, with a bowling alley next door, equally popular with younger people.

It had over decades become one of two social hubs for Latin Americans living in London (along with Wards Corner, in Seven Sisters). Most of the other independent traders come from other parts of the world and had built businesses for themselves and their families. All this would be lost. And while the affordable housing ‘offer’ was improved it still did not meet Southwark’s minimum policy requirements, falling short by over fifty homes for social rent.

The GLA grant mystery

The status of a purported £11.24m grant from the Mayor, that allowed Delancey to improve the social rented housing offer from 74 to 116 units and how this was reported to the planning committee was a key question before the court. The planning committee was told variously that the grant was ‘an agreement in principle for grant funding’ (Officer’s report Adden. para 11), or ‘recently confirmed’ (OR 371), when in fact it was neither. There was no grant and no application had been made. Delancey had only been advised by the Greater London Authority (GLA) that an application would be welcome (Appeal Judgement para 87) and of the steps that they needed to take to make an application.

On this point, the appeal court ruled that while there had been an ‘overstatement’ (AJ 87) of the position, all-in-all the committee had not been misled, particularly as Delancey had committed to building the social rented housing, with or without grant (AJ 85,86).

This commitment naturally led the legal challenge to argue that if Delancey could provide 116 social rented units without grant, they should be able to provide more with a grant. Again, the appeal court did not agree, citing the viability assessment, which stated that 116 units was ‘the maximum reasonable amount’ of social rented housing, and accepting that Delancey was committed to building the social rented housing at their own risk, even if grant were not available (AJ 91).

‘The land and sum of money’

The appeal court also found that the officer’s report and two addenda were only guidance and allowed council officers discretion in how the committee’s decision was practically put into effect (AJ 49, 50). This ruling had important consequences. One of the main grounds of the legal challenge was that a stipulation that would allow Southwark, not Delancey, to build the social rented housing, but without cost to itself, had not properly found its way into the legal agreement that sealed the planning permission.

To this end, the officer’s report had said that ‘The s106 agreement would therefore stipulate that if the development on the west site has not substantially commenced within 10 years of the east site commencing, the land and sum of money sufficient for construction and completion of the social rented units would be transferred to the council, to deliver the social rented units’. (OR 364)

What actually appeared in the s106 agreement was a more complicated arrangement of three options, two of which require Southwark to find up-front costs of construction. Delancey argued that the land value and non-residential elements of the social rented housing block had to be taken into account in this transaction and that this arrangement was therefore perfectly correct. Surprisingly, given that it was putting itself in a position of finding money to build something that Delancey would otherwise have to pay for, Southwark agreed with Delancey. The judge agreed with both, against the campaign’s arguments, ruling that this was a fair rendering of the committee’s decision (AJ 57-60).

Social rent and social rent equivalent – different, but the same

The legal challenge also took issue with Southwark and Delancey effectively treating ‘social rent equivalent’ and ‘social rent’ as being the same tenure.

This distinction becomes relevant if part of the development were to be switched from ‘Build to Rent’ to ‘Build to Sell’, with a higher affordable housing requirement and higher profit leading to an uplift to the social rented housing numbers. Delancey argued that any such uplift would have to be housed in towers that were managed by the affordable housing provider, who could not cope with real social rented housing, for stock-management reasons, and so the uplift would have to be social rent equivalent.

Despite the campaign offering three sets of differences between the tenures – including differences of security of tenure (3 years assured short-hold for social rent equivalent against lifetime tenancies for social rent) and differences in regulatory oversight – the appeal court judges these differences to be ‘nuanced’ rather than ‘material’ (AJ 77-79).

The implications of the judgement

While the Court of Appeal’s decision is disappointing, and the end of the legal challenge against the redevelopment of the shopping centre, we are not disheartened. The Up the Elephant campaign took up the fight in defence of council policy for a minimum amount of social housing, about 170 units, when Southwark Council refused to do so. The campaign did not succeed in getting 170 units, but it did raise the number from 33 social rent equivalent, to 74, then 116 social rent. Other gains have been made along the way, as noted at the beginning of this blogpost.

But though the local community and the Up the Elephant campaign won 116 social rented units, Southwark’s track record of repeatedly conceding ground to Delancey shows that it is more than capable of losing them.

It was not enough for Southwark to allow Delancey almost 10 years to build the social rented housing; Southwark then allowed Delancey the option of passing the task back to them, without adequately securing the resources to do the job. Southwark then went to court, not to make sure that they got the social rented housing, but to defend this lopsided arrangement, and back Delancey up, when it argued that this was all fair and proper.

The appeal court’s endorsement of Delancey and Southwark’s interpretation of ‘land and a sum of money’ (AJ 58, 59) now opens the door, under one option, to Southwark getting nothing more than the land and £1 (one pound). A second option will get Southwark money to build the social rent, but not the full construction costs. Both options would leave Southwark having to find upfront the construction costs. And, despite the appeal court’s judgement, we don’t believe that this is what the planning committee had in mind when it approved Delancey’s scheme.

Southwark should also demand to know when Delancey are going to make the application for the £11.24m that back in 2016 was claimed to be both agreed in principal and confirmed, but in reality, in 2021, does not seem to exist. As at June 2021, Delancey had not completed the registration of its affordable housing provider T3 Residential Limited with the Regulator of Social Housing, that the GLA advised was a condition of a successful grant application. As a recent Sunday Times exposé has shown, Delancey are well versed in how to use the public purse to its own advantage, when it comes to affordable housing. It is not difficult to envisage a scenario where it does so again, at Southwark’s expense.

35% Campaign  


Free holiday activities, BMX inspiration and rooftop art

Southwark summer

What’s on for children, young people and families

There’s a host of events and activities for children and families this summer as part of our Summer of Play programme. Check out a few up-coming highlights below.

Free summer holiday food and fun activities for 5 to 16 year olds

The Southwark Food and Fun holiday programme runs until 27 August and is for those eligible for benefits-related free school meals. If you’re a parent or carer of children or young people that might benefit from healthy food and fun activities, contact the various providers to sign up.

Get your BMX skills up to an Olympic level in Burgess Park

If you’ve been inspired by Kye Whyte’s silver medal in the BMX racing last week, then book up at the track in Peckham where he trained. BMX Track London offers experienced coaching, equipment hire and bookable sessions for riders of all abilities.

Book for family yoga every Tuesday in Brunswick Park, Camberwell

Enjoy some active family time, improve your movement and fitness in the park every Tuesday from 10am to 10.45am, until 28 September. Book a free family yoga session in Brunswick Park, SE5.

Free family workshops and performances from Blue Elephant Theatre

The theatre is running free, bookable workshops and performances for children aged 2 to 10 years old in Elephant Park. Sessions include caring for the environment, exploring nature and numeracy and literacy skills, with some in Spanish.

*Please enjoy events safely, and remember hands, face and space.*

>> Check out all our summer listings for children and young people

There’s lots on this summer in Southwark! Check out some highlights below:

What’s on

Rooftop visual art, architecture and live music in Peckham

Book tickets for eclectic events in the unique multi-storey car park with open panoramic views of London.

A ‘Fine Day For Seeing’ at Southwark Park Galleries, SE16

The free exhibition celebrating words and images, pairs acclaimed poets and artists and is open 11am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Workshops and performances run until 29 August.

New play launches at the Golden Goose Theatre in Camberwell on 10 August

‘A Rat, A Rat’ features an all female cast and portrays character Charlie, a teenager being treated in an adult psychiatric unit, and reflects on how we as individuals care for one another. Book tickets from £12 for performances of A Rat, A Rat until 28 August.

>> See all listings

COVID-19 updates

Get an NHS COVID Pass to show you’ve been vaccinated, or results of a COVID-19 test

You may be asked to show a COVID Pass to get into some venues or to travel abroad. Find out how you can get an NHS COVID Pass to show your vaccination status or COVID-19 test results.

Vaccination walk-in sites in south east London

There are lots of ways to get a first or second dose, including at daily walk-in vaccine clinics at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and King’s College hospitals, plus other places across south east London. Check the website for full details and to see who offers free Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines. You don’t need to book, or provide proof of address, immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

You can also book your vaccine appointment via the NHS website.