E&C Shopping Centre campaign goes to court next week

Dear Friend

You are invited to join us on the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre Judicial Review Express!

Our legal challenge against the Elephant Shopping Centre planning permission goes to court next week – on Tues 22nd October – and we have hired a coach to take all our supporters along.

Coach pick-up is at 8am prompt, outside the Metropolitan Tabernacle, opposite the E&C tube station.

To reserve a place on the coach please call or text 07792 786 192.

We will travel to the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, Holborn, London WC2A 2LL and have a demonstration of support at 9am. The case then starts at 10am. You can stay for as long as you wish – the case is open to the public.

Please join us and spread the word – Facebook event page here!

We want as many supporters as possible to come along, to show the strength of our campaign for more social housing and a better deal for traders and a better deal for the local community at the Elephant.

You can read more about our case here.
Hope to see you next Tues!


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Guide for leaseholders and freeholders in Southwark

Southwark Council has updated the homeowners guide with the help of their homeowners readers’ panel who have reviewed the guide to ensure it is easy to understand. The guide provides guidance and advice on a wide range of issues from anti social behaviour through to how to extend your lease.  You can find the updated guide here: Southwark’s guide for leaseholders and freeholders

Black History Month 2019

BHM Oct 2019

Black History Month (BHM) has been celebrated widely for many years honouring the achievements, culture and the history of black people.

There is a long standing commitment to continue offering the community a vibrant selection of events and activities through programmes that provide insight into the history and culture of the African, Caribbean and diaspora communities.

In Southwark, Black History Month has been recognised for over 25 years with a month long programme of exciting and inspirational events and workshops. Every year throughout October people, schools, libraries, groups and organisations host events and get involved with the celebration of black history.

BHM Oct 2019 events brochure

35% Campaign update – Canada Water regeneration finally up for approval

Sep 22, 2019 12:00 am

15 hectares of public land, 4000 new homes but affordable housing policy requirements not met. -Southwark Council’s planning committee is set to approve the largest planning application ever submitted in the borough this week, when it considers the redevelopment of Canada Water. This huge 21 hectare site includes the Surrey Quays shopping centre and leisure park and the old Daily Mail printworks. Developer British Land’s (BL) proposals for about 7 million sq ft of development will be considered over two planning meetings on the 25th and 30th September.

The masterplan site is the final phase and main component of the Council’s regeneration of Canada Water and comprises a cluster of tall buildings up to 34 storeys, with a mix of residential, retail, office, workspace and leisure uses. It will include a hotel, student accommodation, cinema and community facilities.

The planning application is in two parts. The first part is the main outline application for between 2,000 and 4,000 new homes plus a large element of non-residential floorspace, while the second, is the detailed application for phase 1 of the scheme comprising 265 new homes, a leisure centre (a replacement for the Seven Islands centre largely paid for by Southwark), plus a petrol filling station.

 Canada Water Shopping Centre (shaded blue), Print Works (shaded green), Leisure park (shaded purple)

The Affordable Housing

The proposed scheme is for a minimum of 2,000 new homes, rising to a possible 4,000 maximum, 35% of which would be affordable (25% social rent, 10% intermediate housing). This is in line with Southwark’s own local plan.

As well as the local plan requirement, though, the Mayor’s London Plan requires a viability review mechanism, to ensure that if a scheme turns out to be more profitable than predicted, then extra affordable housing can be provided, up to a cap of 50%. Canada Water triggers this review requirement because at least a quarter of the site is either public or industrial land, and more affordable housing is expected from such sites.

But Southwark has compromised with British Land on the review mechanism, in breach of housing policy. It is allowing a 40% cap on any increase in affordable housing, instead of 50%, and is also allowing British Land to discount any profit from the commercial elements (office space, retail etc) of the scheme from any viability review.

Southwark justifies this departure from policy requirements on viability grounds. It agrees with British Land’s claim that the scheme can only viably support 11% affordable housing, not 35%, and thus British Land is incurring a ‘risk’ by committing to 35% “given the current day viability position.” This is a familiar line of argument, recently deployed by developers of major Old Kent Rd schemes. Developers claim a scheme is unviable, while agreeing nonetheless to provide 35% affordable housing, but only if there is no review, or conditions are placed on the review. The true profitability of the scheme is therefore never established.

 Extract from the planning committee report

It is difficult to understand why Southwark agrees to undermine reviews with these compromises. If the review shows that no extra profit is made, then the developer does not have to provide the extra affordable housing. If, on the other hand, the review shows enough profit is made to provide 50% affordable housing, then it makes no sense to cap it at 40%. The cap should be restored to 50% and the profit of the whole scheme, not just the residential element, should be measured – it could give us around 400 extra much-needed affordable homes, if the scheme is built to its maximum extent.

Other factors reinforce the argument for not settling for just 35% affordable housing. British Land are receiving a total of £39.1m of public money from the Mayor for the first phase alone. If the Mayor gives grants to developers without ensuring the maximum amounts of affordable housing are secured, then it simply becomes a subsidy for developers’ profit margins.

While the Mayor considers that only the Rotherhithe Police Station is public land, Southwark is in fact the freeholder of 15 hectares of the site – the Print Works and the Surrey Quays shopping centre (for which it collects £400k p.a. in rent and 5% of turnover respectively1), as well as being British Land’s development partner, with a 20% interest in the site’s development, under a Master Development Agreement (MDA).

Finding space for new affordable homes is also becoming increasingly difficult. Last week Southwark approved the purchase of its fifth site in the neighbouring Old Kent Rd area in the last two years alone2.

It would therefore be reasonable to expect that maximising affordable housing on the largest development site in the borough would be Southwark’s top priority on Canada Water, the largest of many large development sites in the borough. Southwark should not just be settling for the minimum its housing policy requires and ignoring the Mayor’s viability review policy.

A little history – British Land

British Land is Southwark’s development partner for the scheme and is one of the UK’s largest developers. It is formerly run but still partly owned by property magnate Sir John Ritblat, father of Delancey’s Jamie Ritblat (see E&C redevelopment and its offshore connections). The Ritblats are one of the Tory party’s top 100 donors.

Both Delancey and British Land were named in the Panama Papers leaks for their relationship to a network of offshore subsidiaries/parent companies.

 British Land’s network of offshore companies


  1. See para 34 of this council briefing paper. 
  2. Sites bought to date are the PC World site, a site on Verney Rd, a site at 1 Ann Moss Way, the former gas works and the B&M Ruby Triangle site. See this thread for more details. 

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