35% Campaign update – Southwark rips up Aylesbury Area Action Plan

Latest blog update on regeneration in Southwark.
 

Southwark rips up Aylesbury Area Action Plan

May 09, 2021 10:05 am

Without consultation, Southwark Council has decided to scrap the 182-page planning document which sets the parameters for its redevelopment of the Aylesbury estate. The so-called Aylesbury Area Action Plan (AAAP) will instead be replaced by a 2-page ‘Area Vision and 5-page ‘site allocation’, as part of the New Southwark Plan.

The decision was revealed in a late background paper for the Examination in Public of the New Southwark Plan (NSP). Described by the government Inspector at the Examination in Public (EIP) as a ‘raft of policies’, the AAAP incorporated 29 policy documents, covering all aspects of the redevelopment, including housing, design, open space and the phasing of the development. It was adopted as the effective rule-book for the redevelopment of the estate in 2010, after four years of extensive public consultation, including its own separate public examination.

Image of front cover of AAAP

The implications of this are significant; while Southwark claim that all the relevant policies in the AAAP will be taken into account by the NSP, so that such things as more generous space standards, more family housing and car-parking for residents are retained, the lack of any prior notice or consultation has raised strong fears that much that was beneficial in the AAAP will not be carried across into the New Southwark Plan.

Zero Carbon Growth

Amongst the policies supporting the AAAP, policy at 3.6.1 requires the scheme to result in ‘zero carbon growth’:

“The development will be designed to result in zero carbon growth, that is, no net growth in carbon dioxide emissions despite an increase in the number of dwellings. This will require buildings which are highly energy efficient.”

While the NSP requires developers to take measures towards achieving carbon neutrality, and has targets for major developments (Policy P69), the very specific requirement that the Aylesbury achieves zero carbon growth will be lost.

Experience has shown that unless such a requirement is exact and explicit, as it is for the Aylesbury, it can be lost when complicated, large schemes are considered for planning approval and the decision is made by balancing out how well the development meets all planning requirements, not just the environmental ones.

Open Space

Policy at 4.5.1 of the AAAP requires that the Aylesbury redevelopment results in no net loss of open space. Again, while the NSP has the strategic target for the borough, to retain and protect all open space, it makes no specific reference to open space requirements for the redeveloped Aylesbury.

This is a particular concern, given Southwark’s welcome new commitment to re-provide all the social housing on the new development, which could put space at a premium. The NSP also allows payments in lieu of providing open space, a get-out that is often used by developers who want to build to maximum density.

Children’s Play/Youth Space

Paragraph 4.5.2 of the AAAP says: “We will require children’s play areas to be integrated into the residential areas. About 3 hectares of children’s play space and youth space will be provided”.

The proposed New Southwark Plan makes no requirement to replace any of the children’s play and youth space.

Campaigners and residents giving evidence at the EIP also pointed out that there were three separate policies for play space and open space in the AAAP (PL5, PL6, PL7), and that they provided space well beyond that which was standard. This generous allocation of space in the AAAP reflects the estate’s design, around an extensive network of children’s and youth play spaces. Campaigners noted that this was part of the family orientation of the AAAP, and that these policies would need equal prominence in the NSP, to make sure that families remained a priority in the redevelopment.

Replacement Social Housing

In March 2019, Southwark announced in a Cabinet report an ‘important shift’ in its plans for the Aylesbury, with the ‘ambition… to see the replacement of the number of social rented homes on the footprint of the estate’. The density and number of homes on Phase 2 was therefore increased, with 400 extra units, up to about 1,250 homes in total.

The New Southwark Plan follows through on this, now saying that “it would now be appropriate to consider an increased number of homes within the land covered by the Action Area Core, replacing all the existing social homes within the footprint of the estate”.

But only 148 social rented units have been delivered so far, with a further 581 council houses under construction on the First Development Site. These leaves about 1,500 social rented units to be built, which is about half of the total remaining development, if Southwark is to replace the Aylesbury’s social rented housing (see Table 14 here).

Meantime, Notting Hill Genesis remain in possession of a planning permission that allows for a loss of social rented units, which points to either further increases in density or a deal with Notting Hill Genesis, as was done for the First Development Site, or some combination of the two.

End of service life?

The NSP described the Aylesbury estate as “characterised by large concrete slab buildings built in the mid-1960s –70s, now at the end of their service life.”

This drew criticism from residents, leading to a change of wording. Further objections during the EIP hearing, argued that the Council had submitted no evidence supporting the claim that the estate was at the end of its service life and had failed to investigate whether refurbishment could be a more viable and sustainable option. This was contrasted to Southwark’s decision to bail out Notting Hill Genesis housing, at a cost of over £200m, after the housing association failed to deliver the First Development site, evidently hit with financial viability problems.

Successful examples of the refurbishment of estates built using the same system as the Aylesbury and which might usefully be examined, can be found on the Six Acres estate in Islington and the Doddington estate in Battersea.

Long delayed delivery

Residents at the EIP also argued that the loss of the AAAP would allow Southwark to gloss over delays to the redevelopment. Southwark insisted that the monitoring provisions of the AAAP would be retained, but in any event the dismally slow pace of progress cannot be disguised.

While various community facilities have been completed, the house building programme has fallen many years behind schedule. Over 2,500 new homes should have been built by now, according to the AAAP’s timetable (Table A7.1), at an average rate of 221 homes per year; in fact, only 408 have been completed, giving a rate on only 40 homes per year.

These figures also take no account of the homes lost through demolition. When this is factored in, the situation is even worse. Southwark will have to build 2,750 homes just to get back to where we were, before demolition began. Southwark claim that this will be done by 2027/28 (see para 31 here), but they then must build 1,500 more homes to reach 4,200 homes and this will not be achieved until 2035 (Appendix 2: Sites Methodology Report pg 60 April 2021).

Campaigners cast some doubt on whether this large net gain in housing will ever be achieved, without which the huge displacement and disruption of the whole regeneration can barely be justified. The additional pressure on the housing waiting list of rehousing displaced tenants was also noted.

The time has come for a rethink….

The Aylesbury Area Action Plan (AAAP) was adopted 10 years ago and was supposed to govern the 25-year redevelopment of the estate. Action Plans are special planning policy documents for big, extensive redevelopments. They require a high level of consultation and the involvement of affected residents.

The Aylesbury AAP is a complex document, with a large evidence base and was only finalised after its own Examination in Public. There may now be good reasons to update it, not least because it comes into conflict with more recent planning policy documents.

But it cannot be right that it is simply discarded, at short notice, half way through the estate’s redevelopment, without first carrying out a proper public consultation. Southwark’s reassurances, given in the EIP, that all the key policies will be carried over to the New Southwark Plan are not good enough, particularly given the sorry history of the estate’s regeneration so far

Any proper consultation must also take into account the slow progress of the redevelopment to date and the urgent need to address the climate emergency. It should also assess the impact of the redevelopment on the residents, the majority of whom are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and what benefits, or otherwise, will fall to them – a point forcefully made by long-term residents, past and present, in the EIP.


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Action on Southwark’s empty homes

Apr 11, 2021 12:00 am

Day of action to highlight borough’s estimated 2,300 empty homes –

Manor Place Depot photoshoot

Manor Place Depot will be one of one of the next sites for a nationwide Day of Action on Empty Homes on Sat 17 April 2021. When we last looked (10 April 2021) at least 14 homes stood empty on a single street within that development. There will a Photoshoot and livestream 11am to 11:30am – click here to find out more and join event.

The Depot is a Notting Hill Genesis development, on the site of the Manor Place Baths, one of Southwark’s most characterful development sites. The baths provided laundry and bathing facilities to Walworth people for 80 years, until the demolition of the surrounding streets and the removal of the local population to the Heygate and Aylesbury estates sounded its death knell in the 1980’s.

Manor Place Depot is also a symbol of much that is wrong with ‘regeneration’ – public land sold off cheaply, for an expensive housing development (starting price £557,500 rising to £882,500) with only a small fraction social rented housing. Only 44 of the 270 units are social rented and most of this was only provided only after Notting Hill Housing, as it then was, was caught out failing to provide the right amount of social rent on another development.

Southwark–London’s empty homes hotspot

Action on Empty Homes has identified Southwark as London’s empty homes hotspot, with a 61% rise in the number of long-term empty homes – up from 1,469 to 2,358 in the year up to October 2020topping the league for London boroughs. And most concentrated empty home areas are in the north east quarter of the borough, the site of three of Southwark’s opportunity areas. The fourth, at Canada Water, has its own concentrations of empty homes.

Number of second homes and Airbnb’s explode

As well as empty homes, Southwark has seen a massive increase in second homes – 3,630 in 2020, nearly six times the number of the previous year. But this could be matched, if not outstripped, by the number of Airbnb whole home rentals, which stood at 2,635 in November 2019. Unsurprisingly these are also concentrated in the north east quarter of the borough, another consequence of regenerations that produce overpriced housing that make for better investment opportunities than homes for local people.

 Lights out on the redeveloped Heygate estate.

More empty homes than households in temporary accommodation

This is all at a time when Southwark has 14,000 households on its housing waiting list, 3,000 in temporary accommodation and plans to increase the already large number housed outside the borough.

So, when we have more empty homes than households in temporary accommodation, ACTION ON EMPTY HOMES is vital.

We must fight for a borough and a city where ordinary people can afford to live; filling empty homes won’t solve the housing crisis, but it must be part of that solution.

#RequisitionEmptyHomes #FillEmptyCouncilHomes #PrettyVacant
#EmptyHomes
#Fillemup
#HomesNeedResidents
#TheWrongHousing


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Appeal against Elephant Shopping Centre development tomorrow

Mar 15, 2021 12:00 am

Challenge against High Court on 16 and 17 March. –

Campaigners to hold Rally in support

The long-awaited Court of Appeal hearing against the High Court decision to uphold the planning approval for the demolition and redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre will be held on the 16 and 17 March 2021. The hearing will be online. Permission to mount the appeal was granted to Jerry Flynn, of the 35% Campaign, who is supported by local campaigners Up the Elephant. David Wolf QC of Matrix Chambers, Sarah Sackman of Francis Taylor Building and Paul Heron of the Public Interest Law Centre represent Mr Flynn.

The planning approval was granted by Southwark Council in January 2019 to shopping centre owner and developer Delancey and the appeal follows an unsuccessful High Court challenge, when Mr Justice Dove refused to quash the planning approval, after a two-day hearing in October 2019.

While the demolition of the shopping centre has begun, the legal challenge has focused on the shortage of social rented housing in the proposed development. Delancey has increased the amount of real social rented homes from zero to 116 units under the pressure of a 3-year campaign by Up the Elephant, but it is still only a fraction of the nearly one thousand in the new development. The social housing could also be at risk, if Delancey doesn’t deliver on the “West site”, not due to be built for nearly another decade.

Campaigners also believe Southwark’s Council’s planning committee was misled as to the maximum amount of affordable housing the scheme could viably provide and that there could be at least another 42 social rented homes, with help of Mayor of London funding.

Over £8000 has been raised to support the legal challenge through a CrowdJustice appeal and the Up the Elephant campaign continues the struggle for a better deal for the many traders who have not been properly relocated.

The online rally, supporting the legal case, will be held on the morning of the appeal and will hear from Mr Flynn, traders, lawyers and trade unionists.

The Elephant and Castle shopping centre appeal rally

Homes for People, Not for profit!

9:30am, Tuesday 16th March

Join the Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84686776386

Meeting ID: 846 8677 6386

The rally can also be seen on YouTube and Facebook.

Jerry Flynn of the Up the Elephant campaign has said;

“Delancey may have already begun the demolition, but the battle for what is to be built is not over. Southwark is not getting as much social rented housing from Delancey as it should, while the need for it has become even more acute. Delancey are not building the homes and new shops that local people need. Their planning permission should be quashed and homes and shops that local people can afford built instead.”

Paul Heron, solicitor from the Public Interest Law Centre, who is representing the campaign, adds:

“We are happy that the matter will now be considered by the Court of Appeal. The case raises a number of important legal issues regarding how local councils should handle these developments. One concern is that Southwark council, and many councils like them, are failing to maximise social housing in these developments. Another concern is that councillors are failing in their duties – far too much power is being given to unelected council officials in the decision-making process. This has to stop otherwise there will be a democratic deficit in planning law”.

Tanya Murat, of Southwark Defend Council Housing, supporters of the campaign, said:

“Southwark Council should now listen to the views of its own residents instead of throwing yet more money on lawyers to prop up the mega profits of its friends in the development industry. This development wouldn’t have gone ahead without the Council’s active support. Councillors should put the needs of homeless and low paid residents above the needs of developers.”


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35% Campaign update – Social Rent or Affordable Rent?

Social Rent or Affordable Rent?

Jan 16, 2021 12:00 am

Five years on from Ombudsman’s report the question mark remains. -Five years ago today, Southwark Council rejected our complaint that affordable homes secured from private developments weren’t in fact being delivered, Southwark’s Director of Planning saying ‘Southwark Council has appropriate safeguards in place and has not failed in its duties .. therefore your compliant is not upheld”.

We made the complaint after discovering that Neo Bankside, a high-profile development next to the Tate Gallery, had only delivered 62 of the 94 social rented homes required by the planning approval. The story was taken up by the Guardian.

 Guardian article including our findings at the Neo-Bankside development

We were later contacted by a resident living at the Signal building, a new development at Elephant & Castle, who was confused about an affordable housing tenant pack put through his letterbox. He was concerned that a similar trick had been pulled by the developer of his building, as he was paying market rent for his flat. He asked if we knew how to find out if his flat was supposed to be one of the 11 affordable homes in the building and what implications that would have.

We told him that we had no way of knowing whether his home was one of the 11 affordable units and advised him to contact the Council.

 The Signal Building at Elephant & Castle where affordable homes were let at market rent and then sold on the open market

It later emerged that the housing association concerned had sold these and other affordable homes across the borough on the open market, resulting in a court case, brought by Southwark Council.

 https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/the-court-battles-over-section-106-delivery–56141

Given these examples of where there appeared to be no control over affordable housing delivery, we checked the Council’s choice-based letting system for social housing and found homes approved as social rent being let at more than twice social rent levels.

 Extract from the Council’s lettings system for households on its waiting list

We then cross-checked planning committee reports with section 106 agreements, Land Registry information, the GLA affordable housing outturn dataset and the government’s CORE lettings data. From this we compiled a long (but by no means exhaustive) list of 46 schemes which indicated that there had been a potential breach in provision, involving a total of 1,145 social rented homes. We submitted these to the Council as evidence that it was not getting the affordable housing it should be and asked them to investigate.

The Ombudsman

When Southwark rejected our complaint we referred the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman and in November 2016 he published a damning report stating that Southwark actually have no proper procedures for monitoring the delivery of affordable housing. In response Southwark undertook to introduce monitoring procedures and conduct an audit of all the section 106 affordable housing in the borough.

In late 2019, after three years of badgering, the Council finally published a spreadsheet, which it claimed to be an audit.

But the audit is in fact only a list of developments, detailing affordable housing required according to the s106 agreement. A necessary link to what was actually delivered is absent and any breaches cannot be identified from it. It is therefore impossible to tell from the audit if the affordable housing has been delivered according to the planning consent.

In addition, the audit shows that in over two thirds of the developments, the Council still doesn’t have confirmation of the affordable housing provided and nearly one thousand homes have ‘Not Known’ tenure, out of nearly 7,000 affordable homes listed.

In many cases where the housing association has responded confirming the tenure and number of homes provided, they clearly don’t match with the requirements of the planning consent.

For example, phase 1 of the Aylesbury estate (07/CO/0046) is listed as being let at affordable rent (i.e. up to 80% market rent) but the s106 agreement for this scheme requires social rent.

Similarly phase 1 of the Canada Water regeneration (09/AP/1870) required at least 123 homes at social rent. The audit shows these all at being provided at affordable rent.

Also, the 553-home Tabard Square scheme (02/AP/0168) was approved with a requirement for at least 79 social rented units. These are being listed as having been provided by Horizon Housing Association as affordable rent.

Show us the 5,462 social rented homes

The audit clearly hasn’t been conducted effectively. It remains impossible to know with certainty how much affordable housing has been delivered or whether it has been delivered under the tenure required by the section 106 agreement.

Southwark’s Housing Engagement and Scrutiny Commission considered affordable housing delivery at its last meeting at the beginning of December and we have sent the Commission a detailed account of the gaps and flaws in the audit. We have told the Commission that five years on, Southwark still has not properly fulfilled the requirements of the Ombudsman’s decision.

As we have pursued this issue, Southwark’s response has been that it is in the process of developing new software to deal with monitoring. But after 5 years of development this software is still not operational.

Southwark Council has lately been emphasising the number of affordable and the number of social rented homes that they have succeeded in securing from developers at the planning stage, but this is obviously a hollow claim if the homes are not built and or are then let at a higher rent tenure. Until a proper audit is conducted (plus an investigation of any apparent infractions) Southwark’s claim to have delivered 5,462 social rented homes, in particular, can only be met with scepticism.

Southwark Council is now under new leadership – solving this issue head-on, instead of just muddling along and sweeping it under the carpet will be a test of whether it will be any better than the old leadership.

 Southwark’s website claims it has delivered 5,462 social rented homes

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35% Campaign update – The Elephant traders who face the end without new homes

Latest blog update on regeneration in Southwark
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.

No commitments
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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Recent Articles:
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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35% Campaign update – Shopping Centre traders propose new stalls for the Elephant

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
The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration
Campaigners demand that UAL withdraws from shopping centre development.
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35% Campaign update – Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners

Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners

Aug 31, 2020 12:00 am

Council put on defensive by fierce criticism -Southwark Council has posted a lengthy statement in defence of its treatment of the shopping centre traders, as around 40 face the loss of their livelihood when the centre closes on 24 September, according to research by local charity Latin Elephant.

The updated statement tries to answer the fierce criticism of Southwark and developer Delancey from the traders and their supporters, as voiced on the BBC Radio London’s Drive time with Eddie Nestor programme and detailed in Latin Elephant’s twitter feed.

Southwark’s statement says that 45 traders have been relocated, with 33 ‘remaining’. Thirty-one of the ‘remaining’ unallocated traders, with nowhere to go, have received £3000 each from the Business Transition Grant. They will receive a second payment of an unspecified amount ‘near the closure of the shopping centre’ ; given the number of traders and the total size of the Business Transition Grant fund (£200k) this is likely to be about another £3000. Southwark also say that unallocated traders ‘are able to claim from the relocation fund’ – a consolation, no doubt, but of limited use to them if they have nowhere to relocate to.

Other than this the statement details various generic ‘business support’ measures, such as access to websites and databases and advice from ‘independent business and relocation advisor’ Tree Shepherd (remote access only).

The inadequacy of these ‘business support’ measures barely needs stating; if they were of any use nearly half of the remaining traders would not be without new premises. Our webpage E&C Traders with nowhere to go has the testimonies of six unallocated traders, who have been at the centre for between eight and 20 years each (a total of nearly a hundred years between them). They are all experienced traders who would otherwise be continuing in their trade, but for the regeneration. They deserve something more than ineffectual promises of help, with a derisory £6000 to see them on their way, come 24 September.

The Relocation Fund

While Southwark says ‘the Relocation Fund (£647,835) has been available for eligible traders …from February 2020 traders have not in fact been getting the money they need because Southwark, Delancey and Tree Shepherd have shown no urgency in resolving issues around the costs of fit-outs and lease and rent arrangements. Southwark says these are being ‘currently’ resolved, when there is less than a month to go before closure. There is also no on-the-ground practical help, of the kind Tree Shepherd should be providing. This can be excused to an extent by the Covid crisis, but that does not help the traders.

Each relocation payment will be based on the size of the new premise, but averages out at £14,396 per trader – less than a tenth of Tree Shepherd’s fee of £192,900 for administering the whole exercise 1. The payments are only designed to meet actual relocation costs – they do not include any compensation for loss of business, premises, disturbance etc.

The total amount in the Relocation Fund is derisory in comparison to the Delancey’s anticipated profit of £148.42. Southwark attempts to address this, saying ‘Delancey have long agreed to supplement the relocation fund on a case by case basis’. This turns out to be Delancey’s hardship fund, awarded entirely at Delancey’s discretion and only after traders have first considered raising loans from family, friends or elsewhere. An alternative method would be to simply assess the actual costs of relocating and paying anything above the paltry amount currently on offer. Delancey has also helpfully advised that traders could become Uber drivers.

Southwark’s statement – the highlights

Several other parts of Southwark’s statement stand out, one for being particularly inane;

‘For many smaller traders this is an opportunity to grow and develop their business.’

There has never been true at any point since the redevelopment of the shopping centre was first proposed three years ago and it certainly isn’t true now.

Southwark also claim that ‘The council is committed to enabling the largest possible number of existing businesses to remain in the area’ .

If Southwark was genuinely committed to keeping the largest number of businesses in the area it would not have approved a planning application that did not guarantee this. Southwark’s planning department was happy to recommend, in 2017, a scheme that did not then have one of the main relocation sites (Castle Square). It continued to recommend a scheme without a fully realised relocation strategy, which the planning committee duly approved. Delancey designed the redevelopment to exclude current independent traders and Southwark went along with them 3.

Southwark’s statement further says, ‘Unfortunately there were always going to be traders that were not able to be offered a unit in the relocation spaces listed owing to space restrictions.’

This is not what Southwark said back in December 2018, when the question was raised at the planning meeting for the temporary relocation facility at Castle Square. When asked directly by councillors ‘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’.

Southwark ignored the true state of affairs, revealed by Latin Elephant’s planning objection in July 2018, which said ‘Only 2,050sqm of affordable retail space would be available for immediate relocation, and 4,005sqm is needed’ and approved the scheme anyway 4. Southwark was also well aware that ‘Market stall operators may experience temporary or permanent closure or disruption to business operations, financial or other barriers to re-opening at the new development or in the wider area’ , but this did not lead them to seek improvements in the scheme or to insist on a fully realised relocation strategy, agreed with traders, before giving planning approval 5.

Gone – but not forgotten

While Southwark has been forced to turn its attention to the remaining traders, it would be easy to forget the traders, services and leisure amenities that have already been lost to the regeneration. Latin Elephant/petit Elephant research shows that there were around 130 traders in January 2018; now we have about ninety left, with only about half reallocated. Forty or so more have already gone, and have fallen out of Southwark’s reckoning, forced to leave, as footfall and business declined, wearied beyond hope by the whole ‘regeneration’ process.

Amongst these are the London Palace bingo hall, one of Britain’s largest, with its large customer base in the BAME community; the Palace Superbowl bowling alley, much loved by local students; the Coronet live music night-club, an entertainment venue since 1872; the Charlie Chaplin pub, the many small office businesses in Hannibal House, just above the centre, which also housed a college, charities and voluntary organisations and the United Voices of the World trade union. In Southwark’s happy reality they no longer exist and so their loss does not count.

The true story about the shopping centre redevelopment is the same as it was for the Heygate estate regeneration – Southwark Council has thrown its lot in with the developers, Lendlease and Delancey, and what happens to the people who actually live and work at the Elephant has been an afterthought.

Footnotes:

  1. Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre s106 Agreement pg 113 
  2. Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre s106 Agreement Appendix 10 pg 266 
  3. Delancey’s view of the independent traders was made clear in their Planning Statement, which says ‘…some existing retailers in the area are benefitting from disproportionately low levels of rent for such a central London location and it may not be financially viable for them to survive in the wider area over the longer term’ para 8.7. 
  4. Officer’s Report Elephant and Castel Shopping Centre 3 July 2018 para 851 
  5. Officer’s Report Elephant and Castel Shopping Centre 3 July 2018 para 169 

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35% Campaign update – The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

Aug 24, 2020 12:00 am

University of the Arts ignores traders’ plight -In our last blog post we detailed how Up the Elephant and other campaigners had written to the University of the Arts, London (UAL), informing them that at least 28 traders had not been relocated new premises, as they face the closure of their businesses, to make way for the demolition and redevelopment of the shopping centre. Analysis by Latin Elephant puts the number of traders in peril at between fourty and fifty.

All the displaced traders (bar one) come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the campaigner’s letter demanded that UAL withdraw from the redevelopment, which includes a new UAL campus, in line with its Black Lives Matter statement “We aim to build our anti-racism commitments through collective engagement into actions that make a meaningful difference.”

No reply from UAL

Nearly a month after the letter was sent no reply has been received. We are printing below the stories of six of the displaced traders, in their own words, to prompt UAL into giving some thought to those who are losing their livelihoods so that they can benefit from shiny new premises. Southwark Council and developer Delancey might also want to take heed.

Nassim Cheraitain

My name is Nassim Cheraitian, I’ve been trading at Elephant and Castle market for over 20 years. The closing down of the Shopping Centre, for us, wasn’t good news, because they haven’t helped us. For the last three, four, five years business has been down, we’ve been losing, losing… they promised us they would help to find us to find a new unit but they didn’t. I applied, they asked us for all our details […] we provided them with everything. After that they said that there isn’t space for everyone. And it’s been left like this. We don’t have anywhere to go. They [the council] gave us £3000, but honestly it’s not really [been helpful]. £3000 is nothing — three years ago they told us they would help us, so all that time we’ve been waiting, the business has gone down, we’ve been losing money, losing customers every day, and we were waiting to get something back. Instead we got £3000. I don’t have any plans, as I’ve been waiting to get this promised help from the council […] we’ve been here for too long for them to leave us like this […] [my customers] are unhappy, they think it is unfair to us, we’ve been here too long to be left with nothing—no shop, no unit, nothing.

Shapoor Amini

My name is Shapoor Amini, 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. Some people who were [trading] here for one year, two years, 6 months, they got a space. Me, I’ve been here 20 years, and they gave me nothing; they just said sorry, sorry, you still need to wait. And I don’t know what’s going on. I had someone who worked for me who got a space! But I’ve been here for twenty years and nothing. 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. I don’t know why not, they never talk to us face to face. They sent letters out […]some people got something, others didn’t […] everybody knows me here […] customers come to me as say ‘where is your new space?’, and I say I don’t know. My whole life has been spent in this market, in this area, and now I don’t know what to do. It’s very difficult for me. I have a kids, a wife… they said if you find yourself a shop we will help you. But at this late stage how can I find a shop? […] they promised us too much. Places are asking for a £30,000 deposit, it is very difficult.

Edmund Attoh

My name is Edmund, I’m working here [at the market] over 20 years. Things are very difficult, they gave a space to some people, who’d been here 5 years, 4 years, 2 years, 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]. It has affected us […] someone who has been here for 20 years, and suddenly they say go. We don’t know where we are going. It is very hard for us. My customers always call me and ask where we are going. But we don’t know what to tell them […] that is a problem for us […] we’re looking to them (the council) […] we need help.

Mohammed Jamal

My name is Mohammed Jamal, I’m working in the market the last 8 years. I’m in a very bad situation, because I haven’t found a relocation […] I’ve got four children, and i’ve got no choice [but to work at the market] because I’m more than 55 now, and can’t find any other suitable job, and I’ve also got an illness I take medicine for […] customers ask ‘where are you going’ I said I still can’t find relocation […] because the council says there is no more relocation, it is all full. But I am still waiting for something to come up. One lady told me I’m not even on the waiting list […] she said your application is on file but not on the waiting list […] because there are so many people and the relocation spaces are limited […] I applied many times for a space […] and a small shop is alright for me […] I sent many emails, but no answer. The feeling of not having anything is very painful. If someone doesn’t speak English very well, or is softly spoken […] I am very soft, not talking a lot. That could be why no-one helped me.

Muhammad Raza

My name is Muhammad Raza, I’m working here since 2006. The market is dead now, before it was alright, but slowly, slowly they are closing down shops, big stores—Tesco, Poundland, Boots is going—it’s really dead now so it’s really hard to survive. And because we don’t have a space we don’t know what to do. Tree Shepherd and Delancey aren’t answering our emails, actually I emailed two days ago and didn’t get a response. This morning Tree Shepherd called me and said ‘if you find yourself any shop, we’ll help you’, I said which kind of help? Because I’m looking for a shop […] but if I look myself shops are £15,000, £20,000—I can’t afford that rent. And Tree Shepherd said they don’t have any affordable rents. If your looking for Castle Square or Elephant One, don’t even think about it […] they said ‘we’ll help you’, but which kind of help? I don’t know. This has affected my business, my life, my family, I don’t know what to do next.

Mohammed Al Waris

“My name is Mohammed Al Waris, I’ve been trading at the Elephant and Castle market for the past 15 plus years. Throughout these years I’ve been selling fashion accessories, and I’ve made friendships within the local community. Recently what happened was that they tried to demolish the shopping centre, and that affected most of the traders’ lives, I’m one of them. We haven’t been offered anything. We were asked to pick three different locations—Castle Square, Perronet House, Elephant One—they haven’t offered me none of them. They haven’t told me [why], they just said we haven’t got any affordable unit for you guys. At the beginning they promised us, and then we suffer for the past three years, they closed the subway (underground walkway) and the business going down by about 80%. Two years before they came with an application, saying that we going to definitely relocate you 100%. Now we have one and a half months left to leave the market, and we can’t get any help from Tree Shepherd, or from Delancey. Every time we talk to the they say ‘sorry we haven’t got anything for you guys’, so we can’t do nothing. I believe we are entitled to a place in this area, cos they are making millions from this project, why can’t they help these traders? These traders have families they are trying to look after. By kicking them out, they are destroying their family life […] I really hope they can think about these traders and help to move them to a place nearby the area, where they have their customers […] they say you can’t stay in the area because this area, like Central London, is going to be very expensive. So where should we go? We don’t know.”

Our campaign…

Our campaign is to get Nassim, Shapoor, Edmund, Mohammed, Mohummad, Mohammed and their fellow traders new premises or suitable compensation for the loss of their businesses. The power to do this lies with Southwark Council, Delancey and University of the Arts London (UAL), but time is running out fast – the centre is due to close on 24 September.

You can help us by sending a Twitter message to the Southwark Councillors responsible for this fiasco:

  • @peterjohn6 (Council Leader)
  • @rebeccalury (Deputy Leader, Ward Cllr and Cabinet member for Equalites and Communities)
  • @MerrilDarren (Ward Cllr and Chair of the traders panel that was supposed to support traders)
  • @cllrmseaton (Ward Cllr and Chair of the Planning Committee)
  • @JohnsonSitu (Cabinet member for Regeneration)
  • @Leo_Pollak (Cabinet member for Social Regeneration)
  • @steviecryan (Cabinet member for Jobs, Business and Innovation)
  • @coyleneil (Local MP and Elephant & Castle resident)

You can find more infomation about the displaced traders can be found here.
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35% Campaign update – Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homes

Aylesbury estate regeneration to have new council homes

Jul 12, 2020 12:00 am

Notting Hill Genesis to receive £210m bailout from Southwark -Southwark Council has announced that the First Development Site (FDS) of the Aylesbury estate regeneration will now deliver 581 council homes, increasing the number of social rented homes on the site by 280 units. The figures come from a Cabinet report to be considered on Tuesday 14 July. These will be the first new council homes on the regeneration.

Southwark will be paying for the new council homes, which will consist of 520 general needs, 54 flexi-care and 7 specialist learning homes, while Notting Hill Genesis will build them. This is a new ‘arrangement’ ; previously the homes were to have been built and paid for by Notting Hill Genesis, under the terms of a planning permission granted to Notting Hill Housing Trust, as it then was, in 2015. Southwark will pay £193m in development cost; it will also forego a further £17.8m in lost receipts from NHG, giving a total cost of £210.8m. Two GLA grants, totalling £54.5m, would bring the cost down to £156.31.

 Extract from Tuesday’s Cabinet report approving the decision

The good news

Understandably, Southwark councillors are making the most of the gain in council housing, which is undeniably good news. Local housing campaigners, both on and off the estate can also take credit – reducing the loss of social housing has been a consistent aim and at the centre of many hard-fought battles.

There are a couple of wrinkles though – a proportion of these social rented units will be needed to rehouse leaseholders decanted from later phases. How many remains to be seen – Phase 2 and 3 has 62 leaseholders yet to be bought out and their options include the new shared equity scheme introduced in response to the Secretary of State’s CPO ruling that BAME leaseholders were being wrongly displaced from their communities 2.

Also, the report is silent on whether the new council housing means that there will be a reduction in the net loss of social rented housing in the overall regeneration, or whether it is simply social housing being brought forward from later phases in the regeneration. The outline planning permission granted to NHG, who remain responsible for delivering the rest of the regeneration’s 2,745 units, still allows for a net loss of between 778 and 1,166 social rented units 3.

The not-so-good news

Southwark Council presents the cost of building the new council and other FDS homes as being a reasonable £238.4k per unit. Southwark arrives at this figure by assuming receipt of two GLA grants, reducing development costs from £193m to £138.5m.

But only one GLA grant has been secured and leaving the unsecured grant out of the equation and including the loss of £17.8m from NHG (for the land, and contributions to infrastructure costs) gives a total cost to Southwark of £182m and a less flattering cost per unit of £313k.

Neither of the above calculations, though, take properly into account the major fact that, under the existing delivery arrangements with NHG Southwark was to pay nothing for the housing, including the 240 social rented units; this was to be met by NHG.

So, while Southwark is now to get 581 council homes, instead of 240 social rented homes, this net gain requires an outlay of £193m gross – equivalent to £690k for each of the extra 280 units 4.

NHG takes all the private housing

NHG also get to keep part of the FDS land, so-called Package C, on which to build 261 homes for themselves, most of which, 170 units, will be private homes. These units comprise all the private housing on the FDS. There will also be 57 shared ownership, and 34 social rent 5.

NHG will also continue to build the homes on Plot 18, most of which are again private – 99 private homes, 6 shared ownership and 17 social rent. (This is despite the fact that it is no longer paying £6m towards Plot 18’s community infrastructure) 6.

This is all in stark contrast to the what NHG was supposed to deliver across the whole FDS under the Development Partnership Agreement (DPA) between Southwark and NHG, signed in 2014. Under the DPA, NHG was obliged to provide at least 50% affordable housing, 75% of which social rent – now this requirement has been abandoned 7.

An explanation?

NHG therefore appear to be walking away unscathed from their FDS obligations and while Southwark are getting many welcome council homes, they are having to dig deep financially to pay for them. The Cabinet report notes a knock-on effect for future housing investment 8.

An explanation for all this lies with the Development Partnership Agreement, which gives NHG an effective ‘viability veto’ on the progress of the regeneration. A DPA clause allows NHG to decide whether or not a particular plot or phase can proceed, depending on its viability. This viability test includes a 21% ‘priority return’ of revenue to NHG and is determined by their own assessment.

NHG’s circumstances have also changed for the worse since it signed the DPA in 2014. It has been forced to ‘significantly scale back’ its development pipeline, after a Regulator of Social Housing report last August concluded NHG, with more than 400 unsold private market homes sitting on its books, “faces a range of risks and exposure to sales” .

Southwark, on the other hand, has invested heavily, both financially and politically, in delivering the Aylesbury regeneration. It has been decanting homes for nearly 10 years and now 500 or so stand empty, or are being used for temporary accommodation. The first FDS homes were supposed to have been completed this summer (a two-year delay on the original timetable), but much of the site is still rubble. Phase 2 is still not fully empty and no planning application has been submitted. Further delays can be expected for any compulsory purchase order and a demolition notice.

It is therefore not difficult to see why Southwark might have felt compelled to make concessions to NHG, by taking over the delivery and meeting the cost of nearly all the affordable housing, while leaving all the revenue-generating free-market homes to NHG.

NHG holds Southwark over a barrel – again

Southwark has been forced to make such concessions twice before. In September 2016, Southwark agreed to underwrite or advance £22.1 million to NHG, for the FDS demolition and design costs, including a payment of £16.8m for demolition, that was to have been paid by NHG. This advance funding was to be recouped by the FDS land receipt, which will now not be paid. The report agreeing this also noted that Southwark was due to spend £52.5m on the Aylesbury regeneration by 2018/19 9.

In 2018, NHG was awarded £30m of GLA grant funding for the first phase of the scheme. The Development Partnership Agreement set out that any grant funding awarded to the scheme should go to Southwark, such that it receives some kind of remuneration for the sale of its land (see para 4.1, page 111). But NHG forced Southwark to agree to a variation allowing it to pocket the entire £30m 10.

What next?

Gaining 581 council homes is a boon for everyone in Southwark who depends upon social housing. Delivering these in the FDS phase also has the advantage that existing residents from later phases have a better chance of remaining on the Aylesbury.

But rescuing the Aylesbury regeneration is costing Southwark dearly. Southwark is plugging holes left by NHG’s failure to deliver. Southwark is paying not just for council housing on its own account, but also for social rented housing that NHG should have paid for, and Southwark is doing this with money that could otherwise be spent on building more council housing elsewhere. Meantime NHG retains choice pieces of land, in the middle of the Aylesbury, to build nearly 270 private homes. No figures are given in Tuesday’s cabinet report of how much NHG stand to make from this.

This is also not the first time Southwark have come to NHG’s rescue. Southwark has also spent £101m keeping the estate habitable, while the regeneration stalls under NHG’s stewardship 11.

At least four of the DPA milestones haven’t been met:

….and Southwark has the right to terminate the DPA if Notting Hill doesn’t meet milestones:

There is also a clause that allows the Council to terminate 3 years after it was first found that a plot wasn’t viable:

It would be a serious matter for Southwark to consider such a step, but given its past performance and its present circumstances it would be no surprise if NHG do not return, asking for more concessions and for more money. If this does happen, Southwark should take stock of the situation and consider whether this is the best use of its money.

Footnotes:

35% Campaign update – Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

May 01, 2020 12:00 am

Berkeley Homes threatens to reduce affordable housing at Malt St –Berkeley Homes is the first developer in Southwark to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in one of its schemes, since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis. Berkeley secured planning permission for the Malt St development, just off the Old Kent Rd, in June 2019, with a promise to build 40% affordable housing. Since then it has joined-up with Peabody, who had a smaller, neighbouring development on Nyes Wharf. Together the two sites will provide 1,569 new homes, with 40% affordable housing (359 at social rent and 222 shared-ownership), delivered by Peabody.

Now a planning committee briefing reveals that this affordable housing is at ‘risk’ because Berkeley intends to mount an appeal that will reopen the question of the viability of the scheme. To prevent this happening, the briefing recommends approval of an unprecedented clause in Southwark’s s106 planning agreement with Berkeley, that could see all the affordable housing lost, should development partner, [Peabody] hit financial trouble.

The Southwark Law Centre has written to the planning committee, objecting to the proposed clause and requesting a deferral, to allow the serious issues it raises to be properly addressed.

Why a Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause matters

The planning committee is being asked to approve a so-called Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause. Simply put, if a borrower cannot pay their mortgage, then the lender can take legal possession of the property and sell it – they become the ‘mortgagee in possession’ and up until now this has evidently been covered with a clause that keeps the affordable housing affordable ‘in perpetuity’ .

The MIP clause proposed for Malt St is different – it will not secure the affordable housing ‘in perpetuity’ , should Peabody fail. Instead, Southwark or another affordable housing provider would be given the option to take on the affordable housing, but if they do not, the affordable housing can then be sold onto the open market. If Southwark does buy the affordable housing, they would also have to pay anything outstanding ‘under the terms of the relevant security documents, including all accrued principal monies, interest and costs and expenses’ 1.

The MIP briefing is at pains to point out that such a situation is very unlikely to arise, because Peabody is in rude financial health; it has an annual turnover of £630m, an annual profit of £160m and assets of £7.6bn, so the possibility that it will fail is remote. The briefing reinforces the point by noting that no major housing association has ever gone into administration and quotes a GLA document that says ‘there is no known cases of a MIP clause being triggered…..’ 2.

Mayor of London opens the door…

This all begs an obvious question – why replace a MIP clause that protects affordable housing, in all circumstances, even unlikely ones, with a clause that does not?

Part of the answer is that this is what the Mayor of London wants. As Southwark’s briefing explains it, the Mayor wants ‘a consistent approach to MIP clauses across the London boroughs and to secure greater access to funding for RPs (registered providers) to increase the delivery of affordable housing’. The report continues; ‘In order to achieve this, the GLA MIP clause would allow, in certain limited and unlikely circumstances, affordable housing to no longer be “in perpetuity”’ . The briefing notes that Southwark’s own MIP clause is different from the Mayor’s, precisely on this point; Southwark does require affordable housing to remain such ‘in perpetuity’ , should a RP go into administration 3.

Peabody takes advantage

Peabody also wants the GLA MIP adopted, because it would allow them to borrow more money for other projects. To quote the briefing ‘Peabody have funds to deliver this scheme, but given the very large scale of the investment they are only willing to make such a commitment on the basis that they are able to secure additional funding in the future against the asset of the completed scheme’ . The report says that while the Malt St scheme is ‘entirely financed by Peabody from its own investment’ Peabody nonetheless wants more private bank finance and needs to make more of its ‘capital assets’ and the banks consider that the affordable housing ‘asset is not sufficiently liquid’. The briefing reiterates ‘Peabody has confirmed that they cannot proceed as the RP [registered provider] partner in this scheme without this clause’ 4.

Berkeley turns the screw

Berkeley backs Peabody, saying that it cannot, or will not, proceed without them. Berkeley goes on to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in the scheme, if the GLA MIP clause is not agreed, by way of an appeal to the government of ‘non-determination’. Berkeley would argue that Southwark had failed to conclude the s106 legal agreement in the required time, and also reopen the question of the viability of the scheme 5. Berkeley has a track record for such manouvers; this 2018 Guardian report shows that Berkeley has reduced its affordable housing obligations using viability reviews in almost all of its London schemes.

Southwark’s briefing tries to make the best of things; as well as emphasising the unlikelihood of any default, it claims that this decision will ‘not therefore set a precedent for other schemes.’ The Mayor has different ideas – he wants to see his MIP clauses used across London and says they will be used for anything he ‘calls-in’, (such as the Biscuit Factory) and that he ‘will promote their use for other schemes that are referable…and non-referable’ ie basically everything 6.

What we think

A Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) s106 clause that has evidently been perfectly adequate up to now is to be changed, compromising the ‘in perpetuity’ principle of affordable housing. The Mayor hopes that this will help meet his strategic 50% affordable housing target, but Peabody and Berkeley are not proposing 50% for the Malt St site. More generally, the Mayor has published no concrete commitment from developers and registered providers to increase affordable housing, in exchange for the Mayor’s more market-friendly MIP.

So, while it would be easy for Southwark’s planning committee to approve the clause in the almost sure knowledge that it will never be triggered and the affordable housing will remain as such, ‘in perpetuity’ , they should nonetheless reject the Mayor’s new MIP clause. It purports to facilitate a general increase in affordable housing, but there is no evidence before the committee that this will actually happen, either in Southwark or elsewhere. On the other hand, though, the Mayor’s MIP will definitely weaken the ‘in perpetuity’ status of affordable housing

This is the thin end of a very long wedge. These clauses have already been used in Islington, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth. They are being actively promoted by the GLA and the Mayor. Once they proliferate the whole principle of affordable housing being for ‘in perpetuity’ will start to be lost and developers and their registered provider partners will use the same kind of ingenuity that they have used with viability assessments to squeeze real affordable housing out of London 7.

The briefing and its recommendation, will be considered by the planning committee meeting on Monday 4 May, the first to be held online.

Footnotes:

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35% Campaign update – The harsh reality of relocation for shopping centre trader

The harsh reality of relocation for shopping centre traders

Apr 23, 2020 12:00 am

Law centre survey shows that nearly half of traders have nowhere to go -The Southwark Law Centre (SLC) has written to Southwark Council, detailing the shortcomings of the relocation of the independent traders from the Elephant & Castle shopping centre, prior to its demolition on 31 July 2020. The letter is supported by Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant, which includes the 35% Campaign.

SLC’s letter supplies Southwark with the details of a survey of traders about the relocation, conducted just before the Coronavirus lockdown. This ‘snapshot’ survey of ten traders shows that 4 had not been offered a relocation space and the remaining six were offered the spaces that were inadequate, mainly because they were too small, but also because they were in poor locations for attracting trade and had no space for storage or for displaying their goods.

The letter also criticises the traders’ appointed business advisor, Tree Shepherd, for a lack of appropriate support, particularly during the lockdown. The relocation fund is described as not fit for purpose and the relocation database of limited value. It regrets that Southwark approved using CPO powers on Delancey’s behalf without any increase to the Delancey relocation fund.

The letter also notes that work on completing Castle Square had stopped and asks how this will impact on the traders’ relocation. This is one of the four relocation sites and due to open in June – but work has stopped as a result of the coronavirus crisis:

The letter acknowledges that Southwark is not able to control the wider economic circumstances, but nonetheless calls on them to give stronger and more effective support to the traders.

Loyalty not repaid

All the trader respondents to SLC survey come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, the longest serving trader having been at the Elephant for 22 years, while the longest serving trader not offered relocation space has been there 15 years; all ten traders together clock up over 115 years at the shopping centre.

In their survey comments all the respondents say the same thing – that more money is needed, and more space, and if the space cannot be found then compensation should be offered.

Relocation applications rejected

The SLC survey is a relatively small, but its finding that 4 out of 10 traders have no place to go is mirrored by the much larger and earlier research of Latin Elephant/petit elephant. This has tracked the fate of nearly a hundred businesses, since December 2018 and estimated that only 40 would be relocated, a prediction that now appears to be confirmed by Southwark Council in its own assessment of the relocation process. This states that while there have been 64 applications for three of the four main relocation sites, only 36 have been successful, with 28 rejected1. Southwark gives no explanation for this, or says anything about what exactly it expects these 28 businesses to do. The fourth site, Elephant Park, has had one successful application out of 52.

Public support for development falls

Southwark prefers to emphasise the increasing confidence traders are said to have, that they will be able to at least remain trading, by reference to an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). This is cited as evidence that the so-called mitigation measures are working, despite the 28 rejected relocation applications. The EIA also reveals the embarrassing fact that public support for the shopping centre redevelopment from 67% in 2016 to 42% today, mainly because of concern ‘about what will happen to businesses currently in the shopping centre’. The proposed remedy is to continue the well-meaning, but now hardly appropriate ‘Follow The Herd’ publicity campaign.

Crisis response needed

As we reported in our last blogpost Southwark has approved a welcome £200,000 in support of traders, agreed before the Coronavirus lockdown. Separately, Southwark has also launched a Business Hardship Fund of £2m, aimed at all the borough’s 10,000 microbusinesses.

But otherwise Southwark’s latest report on the progress of the shopping centre redevelopment takes no account of the entirely new, desperate circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic. This could be excused as it is dated 24 March, the first day of the lockdown, but was not considered until 7 April, two weeks after lockdown, without any amendment or addendum, that recognised the new trading situation.

The report also gives no figures for any amount of money actually paid out to traders, from any source.

Support traders, not Delancey

Southwark has done Delancey the huge favour of adopting CPO powers and leasing both the shopping centre and the LCC, to override residents legal rights. While Southwark claim that is at nearly nil cost to itself, it will be of considerable financial benefit to Delancey, who would not otherwise have been able to secure the necessary funding for their redevelopment scheme3.

Southwark did this without insisting that Delancey improve its own support for traders. The relocation fund remains the meagre £634,700, agreed nearly 2 years ago, at planning committee. Delancey also still insist on closing the centre on the 31 July, with some minor concessions and despite the SE1 survey that showed 72% of local people want the centre kept open.

Over the past 3 years and more the shopping centre traders have been fighting a hugely unequal battle to keep their businesses going, while the centre has been rundown and trade blighted. Now is the time for Southwark to start giving the level of support it has been giving Delancey. It must get cash to traders for their immediate survival. It must tell Delancey it will not be using its CPO powers on its behalf, until all the traders are either relocated or suitably compensated and that there must be no centre closure until this is done.

You can support us in our fight for fairness for traders, by sharing these hashtags;

#supporttradersnotdelancey #supportelephantnotdelancey #ElephantJR.

Footnotes:


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35% Campaign update – Shopping centre CPO – Southwark ploughs on regardless

Shopping centre CPO – Southwark ploughs on regardless

Apr 04, 2020 12:00 am

Southwark exercises CPO powers to clear E&C shopping centre site for Delancey -Southwark Council is set to assume Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers, on behalf of offshore developer Delancey, at its Cabinet meeting this Tues 7 April (postponed from 24 March). While this extraordinary move will strengthen Delancey’s hand in ongoing negotiations with various development stakeholders, such as TfL, and will relieve Delancey of funding risks, the scheme itself remains unchanged, delivering only 116 social rented units and displacing traders wholesale.

The Cabinet meeting is also set to approve a report that will override local residents’ legal rights, for the loss of light caused by the redevelopment. A third report will approve the recently announced £200,000 relocation assistance for traders.

The meeting will be by videoconference, but no livestream is advertised.

As we reported in our last blogpost Southwark intends to lease both the shopping centre and London College of Communications buildings themselves. Subleasing arrangements will return the shopping centre and LCC back to the control of Delancey and University of the Arts London, but as nominal public property, residents legal ‘right-to-light’ options can be overridden. Residents will no longer be able to seek an injunction against the development (while remaining able to claim compensation). Southwark say that there will be no cost to the Council from their leasing arrangements, other than officer time, but the report supplies no figures.

No guarantee that scheme will be built anyway

Southwark’s extraordinary measures illustrate its determined support for Delancey’s redevelopment of the shopping centre, despite the shortfall in social rented housing provided and the mass displacement of traders. Local charity and advocate for all traders Latin Elephant estimates that over half still have nowhere to go.

Southwark’s unwavering support extends as far as neglecting to obtain a guarantee from Delancey that the scheme will go ahead, even with the CPO powers being exercised on their behalf, saying ‘it is not necessary to impose… an obligation to build the Scheme as the measures negotiated for inclusion in the indemnity agreement give the Council comfort that EC is likely to proceed with the Scheme.’ 1

72% say keep the centre open

The proposed measures follow a survey conducted by the SE1 news website that shows 72% of local people want the centre kept open, in the light of the Coronavirus public health crisis. In response Delancey reiterated that they still intend to close the shopping centre on 31 July, while waiving rent and service charges (a long-standing traders’ demand) and promising to making pharmacy and food supplies available, beyond then, if the public health crisis continues.

What we say…

The Up the Elephant Campaign, supported by the 35% Campaign, has consistently opposed Delancey’s shopping centre redevelopment scheme, since its inception, over 3 years ago. We support the ongoing legal challenge to quash Delancey’s planning permission.

Over time various concessions, dragged out of Delancey by campaigners, have made marginal improvements to the redevelopment. Southwark’s pledge of £200,000 for the traders is also welcome; it now urgently needs to be distributed as cash grants to traders. Nonetheless, Delancey’s scheme still remains a bad one. Delancey are displacing an entire community of traders, and destroying a social hub for the many working people from all over the world who have made the Elephant their home. The new development will have a miserly 116 social rented homes, out of nearly a thousand new units (if they ever get delivered).

So, Southwark Council should not be bending over backwards helping Delancey, in any circumstances – certainly not now, when half the traders still have nowhere to go, while Southwark has an obligation to help secure traders accommodation in the new development it never properly exercised. We do not need to add that the traders’ desperate situation has been rendered dire by the Coronavirus crisis.

The UP THE ELEPHANT CAMPAIGN HAS THEREFORE MADE THE FOLLOWING DEMANDS TO SOUTHWARK COUNCIL;

You can support us in our fight for fairness for traders, by sharing these hashtags; #supporttradersnotdelancey #supportelephantnotdelancey #ElephantJR.

Or by lobbying the Councillors approving the decision directly: https://twitter.com/peterjohn6https://twitter.com/rebeccaluryhttps://twitter.com/evenor23https://twitter.com/Jasmine_Alihttps://twitter.com/steviecryanhttps://twitter.com/Livingstone_RJhttps://twitter.com/Victoria_Millshttps://twitter.com/Leo_Pollakhttps://twitter.com/kieronjwilliamshttps://twitter.com/JohnsonSitu.

  1. See para 76 Report: E&C CPO 

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