35% Campaign update – Elephant Park – homes dumped for offices

Elephant Park – homes dumped for offices

Jun 17, 2022 12:14 pm

Southwark Council is set to roll over to Lendlease yet again in its final bid to squeeze maximum profit out of the Heygate redevelopment. The developer’s latest and last Elephant Park application will increase the density of the scheme via the back door, using the sweetener of a new health facility that is was required to provide anyway.

One of the first tasks of Southwark’s new planning committee will be to consider developer Lendlease’s controversial planning application for a new office block on the final plot of Elephant Park, H1. Plot H1 stands on what was protected metropolitan open land, on the site of the demolished Heygate estate:

The H1 application, which includes a proposal for a health hub, is a dramatic change of direction by Lendlease. Up to now, Elephant Park has been built as a housing development, with some retail, and other uses; Lendlease’s original plan was for H1 to be much the same, with three residential blocks, one of 30-storeys, two of ten-storeys, comprising about 300 homes, across 36,100sqm of floorspace:

This proposal was part of Lendlease’s successful 2013 planning permission application. Now, in 2022, it turns out that Lendlease has shoehorned the housing planned for H1 into all the other plots already built or currently under construction, leaving it with a surplus plot. Instead of building additional housing on H1, which would require a fresh planning application and might open up a can of worms about affordable housing delivery, Lendlease says it wants to build an office block on the site, which would improve ’employment capacity’. A health hub, covering a tenth of the total floorspace, is also being offered, to sweeten the proposal – but only in place of providing affordable workspace.

Lendlease benefits from rule change 1

Southwark Council has reacted favourably to Lendlease’s proposal to provide offices on the surplus plot, with local councillors saying that they are ‘generally in support’ of the application, at a pre-election hustings.

More practically Southwark Council also changed the planning rules to give the application a fair wind. We reported last September how Southwark Council has smoothed Lendlease’s path by changing the local planning rules in the Southwark Plan, to allow a ten-fold increase in ’employment floorspace’ on Elephant Park.

Lendlease’s 2013 planning permission allowed only a maximum of 5,000sqm of business space across the whole Elephant Park site of thirteen plots. Lendlease’s new application proposes ten times that amount, 49,565sqm on a single plot. This would have had no hope of being approved without a change in the planning rules. Southwark Council duly obliged and approved an ‘uplifted’ amount of 60,000sqm, when the new Southwark Plan was adopted in February 2022.

More homes in a smaller space….

Lendlease has also been careful to build all the homes it promised under its 2013 permission. Lendlease say it has built almost to the maximum floorspace allowed by the permission, delivering 2,689 homes including 25.7% affordable housing.

But these 2,689 homes must obviously have been shoehorned into fewer plots, at a greater density than originally proposed, if Lendlease now finds itself with a spare plot that can be used for an office development. Should this application succeed it will also be the second time that the density of the development has been increased. In 2019 Lendlease took advantage of a poorly drafted s106 legal agreement, to increase the original maximum homes from 2,469 to 2,689 homes.

There is also a discrepancy between what Southwark has been told about the number of homes built and the figures Lendlease have given in their 2022 half-yearly report to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Lendlease’s hy22 Lendlease Major Urban Projects report says that 3,208 homes will be delivered on Elephant Park (including Trafalgar Place’s 235 units), 284 more units than are in the planning documents and 739 more homes than originally consented:

…….fewer social rent

Lendlease remains silent on the shortfall of affordable housing, against the longstanding 35% affordable housing requirement, half of which should be social rented. Roughly calculated by unit this is a loss of about 270 affordable homes, half of which would be social rent.

The sweetener – the health hub

Lendlease appear to have won local councillors around to supporting their office block proposal by promising a health hub. Discussions about this have already taken place between Southwark Council, the NHS SE London Clinical Commissioning Group and Lendlease, and have also including GP services provider Nexus.

A health hub or facility would be very welcome and for that reason it has been a requirement for Lendlease to build it since 2013, under the current planning permission. Rather than get on and build it though, Lendlease has waited until the final plot and the final planning application to extract further gains, in the shape of an office block, several times the size of the health hub. It has had to make £1.08m health contributions along the way, but evidently considers this an acceptable cost.

Given that Lendlease were happy to build the health hub as part of a residential development before, there is no reason why it must be part of an office development now, other than it suits Lendlease. It is also not clear why councillors and Southwark think they are getting a good deal by supporting a health hub with offices, when there is already an agreement to build a health hub with homes.

Lendlease benefits from rule change 2

A further gain for Lendlease in building a health hub is that it would relieve it of the obligation of providing around 5,000sqm of affordable workspace. This has been enabled by another favourable change to the planning rules in the new Southwark Plan, to add to the change that allowed more office space. Up to August 2020 developers could provide affordable retail and affordable cultural uses instead of affordable workspace. Lendlease submitted its application in May 2021 and by the time of the final version of the Southwark Plan in February 2022 ‘public health services’ was added to the list of alternatives to affordable workspace.

So, with this addition, an obligation was turned into a choice between providing a health hub, at what we can assume will be a commercial rent, or affordable workspace at discounted rents.

Princess Street and Manor Place surgeries to go?

Southwark Council has joined with Lendlease and the NHS SE London Clinical Commissioning Group (SEL CCG) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, supporting the provision of a health hub and an indicative plan of the hub has been drafted.

One point that leaps out of the Memorandum is that the hub is intended to replace the Princess St and Manor Place GP surgeries. It says that the hub would be a ‘health centre for GP….services….to serve the population at Elephant & Castle and the existing people served by the Princess St and Manor Place GP Surgeries.’

New state-of-the-art GP facilities would be a boon to everyone at the Elephant and in Walworth. But if these facilities entail the closure of two longstanding GP surgeries then that is something that should be made plain in the planning application and the public consultation about that application. This has not happened; the only consultation has been around the planning aspects of the application, which the Memorandum calls a ‘separate and independent process’.

A consultation is promised by the SEL CCG, but it looks as if this will not be until after the planning application is decided. This is too late; the fate of the surgeries will be effectively decided too, if the application is approved. Southwark Council and the NHS are the proper authorities to deal with our health care provision, Lendlease are not, but at the moment it is Lendlease who seem to be in the driving seat, with no reference to the people who depend on Princess St and Manor Place surgeries. This planning application should only be determined after the formal consultation promised by the SEL CCG.

What has been delivered on Elephant Park?

Southwark must also clarify and confirm just exactly what housing has been delivered on Elephant Park. The development we have now looks a lot different to that approved, back in 2013 – bigger, denser, with fewer homes for sale (many were converted to Build to Rent), and with an office block in the middle, if the H1 planning application succeeds. This is not what the 2013 planning committee agreed to.

A new Overview & Scrutiny committee has just begun drawing up its scrutiny arrangements and annual work programme; the committe should put an examination of the whole Heygate regeneration and what has been delivered on Elephant Park at the top of its agenda.

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Elephant Park - homes dumped for offices on Facebook

Only one in ten new homes in Southwark is social rented

Apr 12, 2022 01:00 am

Hoardings publicising the Council’s delivery of 11,000 council homes are a familiar sight around Southwark. They promote the Council’s creditable council house building programme, which it launched in 2013 and describes as the ‘most ambitious…in the country’.

The impression Southwark wants to create is that building social housing is the Council’s top priority – as it should be in a borough where only 7% of households can afford free-market housing[^1].

The reality is different. Only one in ten new homes built in Southwark since 2004 is social rented. The figure has emerged from analysis of the London Mayor’s new Planning Datahub. The Datahub documents all the homes built in London since 2004, including those built in Southwark[^2]. The Datahub analysis shows that after losses are taken into account, only 2,711 out of twenty-five thousand new homes in Southwark are social rented[^3].

Eighteen years of low social rent, but high free-market numbers

The contrast between the small number of social rent and the large number of free-market homes built is stark, as our chart below shows. The Datahub figures show that nearly 70% of all new homes are free-market (nearly 18,000 in number) against just 10.7% social rent, with the rest made up of other affordable homes[^4].

Bar chart by 35% Campaign. Source: Planning London Datahub, Residential Completion Dashboard

Lost Heygate homes

The Datahub also shows that more social rented homes were lost in 2021 than were built. Only 31 were built, while 122 were demolished, with a net loss of 91 homes. Southwark claim this is a ‘discrepancy’ but the lost units can be identified through the Datahub as being from the demolished Heygate estate[^5].

The Datahub shows the loss clearly, in percentage terms, as minus 20.4% of the total housing delivered in 2021[^6].

Southwark misses the target

Southwark has claimed that it has more than met its target to build 2,500 council homes by 2022, a pledge it made in 2013.

But this target has in fact been missed. Only 2,208 social rented homes have been built in Southwark since 2013, and this includes any council housing built. This figure is calculated from Southwark’s own Housing Facts and Figures webpage Table 8. The Mayor’s Datahub shows that over the same period 1,136 social rent homes have been lost, mainly through estate demolitions, leaving a net gain of only 1,072 social rented homes[^7].

it should be noted that these figures are from all social rented housing in the borough. It is made up of social housing on private developments, as well as any council housing. The number of council homes built will therefore be a smaller number than the number of social rented homes.

The Council plays with the figures

Southwark is only able to claim that it has fulfilled its 2013 pledge to build 2,500 council homes by 2022, by using an elastic definition if what ‘build’ actually means. For Southwark, it means the homes do not have to be completed, just started, and can also include other homes brought back into use, according to this Southwark News article.

Southwark also apparently include in the definition of council housing homes gained from private developments, through planning requirements. If this is the case then there is no real gain in social rented housing numbers, because these would have been built anyway, and at private developer’s cost.

We need less free-market housing, more social rent

The need for social rented housing has continued to rise since Southwark made its 2013 pledge to build 11,000 council homes over thirty years. The pledge is a good one, but it will probably only maintain the 2013 number of homes, not increase it. Southwark also does itself no favours by exaggerating the progress it is making towards the 11,000 council homes target. The amount of council and social housing being built in the borough is a fraction of the amount of free-market housing and unless this changes and we start getting more social housing from private developers as well as council homes, then Southwark’s housing crisis will continue.

Footnotes:
[^1]: ‘CACI Paycheck data confirms that 93% of households in Southwark have a household income that requires social and intermediate housing’ – para 2, pg 108 Southwark Plan 2022

[^2]: The Planning London Datahub is a ‘collaborative project between all of the Planning Authorities in London’ including Southwark. It is part of the London Datastore and is a ‘new data base that includes data fed live from the boroughs…’. The Datahub’s Residential Completion Dashboard shows all housing completions for all the boroughs in London.

[^3]: 5,761 social rented homes were completed, 3,050 s/r homes were lost, leaving a 2,711 net gain for the eighteen financial years FY2004-FY2021. 25,286 homes of all tenures were completed in total, after losses are taken into account. From an analysis of the Residential Completion Dashboard, data filtered for Southwark.

[^4]: 17,651 free-market (69.81%), 2,711 social rent (10.72%), 339 affordable rent (1.34%), 3,572 intermediate (14.13%), 57 Discount Market Rent (0.23%), 956 Other (3.39%) – 25,286 units in total. Completed during the eighteen years FY2004-FY2021. Figures do not include non-conventional units and empty homes brought back into use. From an analysis of the Residential Completion Dashboard, data filtered for Southwark.

[^5]: 31 social rented homes were completed in Southwark in 2021, while 122 were demolished, all on Elephant Park Plots H2 and H3 (14/AP/3438/3439), leaving a net loss of 91 units. More social rented homes were lost than completed in FY 2004 (-140), FY2015 (-121), FY2016 (-166), FY2021 (-91). From an analysis of the Residential Completion Dashboard, data filtered for Southwark.

[^6]: The net gains/losses for FY2021 are 441 free-market units (98.7%), -91 social rent (-20.4%), 39 affordable rent (8.7%), intermediate 58 (13%). From an analysis of the Residential Completion Dashboard, data filtered for Southwark.

[^7]: Southwark’s Table 8 gives ‘Gross’ figures; the Datahub describes the same figures as ‘Gains’. The Datahub figures for FY2019 and FY2020 vary from Southwark’s, giving total Gains for FY2013 to FY2020 of 2,170, against Southwark’s figure of 2,208 for the same period. Datahub figures from an analysis of the Residential Completion Dashboard, data filtered for Southwark.

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Only one in ten new homes in Southwark is social rented on Facebook

35% Campaign

35% Campaign update – Elephant traders without new premises one year after shopping centre closes

Dec 06, 2021 12:00 am

Traders’ deputation seeks fair treatment from developers; urges Southwark Council to act

Independent traders displaced by the closure of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre are to send a deputation to Southwark Council’s Cabinet meeting tomorrow. The deputation will be urging the Council to do more to help them secure new premises, after being left homeless by the shopping centre closure.

This will be the traders second attempt to get a hearing from the Council, after its recent Assembly meeting refused to receive the deputation.

Many of the Elephant’s former traders have shops and cafes in Castle Square, in Elephant Rd and in the Elephant Arcade, after a three year campaign to secure new premises, but many others are still without trading spaces, including two of the Elephant and Castle’s longest standing businesses, Pricebusters DIY and La Bodequita restaurant.

Both Pricebusters and La Bodequita have been offered new premises on Elephant Park, but have been unable to reach agreement with developers Delancey and Lendlease about who will meet the relocation costs. Southwark Council has legal agreements with both developers covering traders’ relocation requirements and the deputation will be asking Southwark to enforce these agreements.

Traders ‘very disappointed’

The owner of Pricebusters, Rakesh Patel, said ‘We have been trading at the Elephant for 35 years, ever since the shopping centre opened. We were the biggest DIY shop in the area and sold things people cannot get anywhere else. We have had long negotiations with Delancey and Lendlease and have made some progress, but there is still a big gap between us. The costs of setting up new premises are astronomical and the amount we are being offered from the relocation fund set up to help us is simply not enough. Just lately Southwark councillors have joined the negotiations, but we still need much stronger support from the Council’.

The owner of La Bodequita, Diana Sach, said ‘I started La Bodequita in 2001, with my brothers and we worked hard to build up a successful family business. La Bodequita and other cafes and restaurants at the Elephant and Castle helped to introduce Colombian and Latin food to London and people came from all over the city to eat with us. We trusted Southwark Council and Delancey to help us with the relocation, but have been very disappointed. We have spent many thousands of pounds designing new premises and storing equipment, while we have had no premises. It is over a year since we left the shopping centre and we really need to re-open soon, but we just seem to be stuck’.

Successful businesses are being lost

Rakesh and Diana point out that Pricebusters and La Bodequita were both successful businesses, before they were forced to move.

Rakesh says ‘We did not want to move, but the decision was taken out of our hands and I am having to find a very great deal of my own money for the relocation. I was assured by Delancey and Southwark Council that there would be enough money in the relocation fund for us all, but so far this has not been the case’.

Diana says ‘La Bodequita is more than a restaurant. It is part of the Elephant and Castle and part of Latin American life in London. We want to stay here, as part of the new regeneration and are investing a lot to do this, but we need the help we were promised from Delancey and Southwark Council’.

‘No more Elephant as we knew it’

The traders’ deputation will also include Mathew Onuba, of the Look@Me stall. from the shopping centre’s old market. About a dozen displaced market traders have been in discussions with Southwark Council about setting up a small number of new pitches at the Elephant.

Mathew says ‘We have had intentions of opening up a business, but it’s been a struggle. There is no more Elephant and Castle as we knew it, there are no units, there is still no market, even after trying to make plans with the Council. Leaving a previous business and going to a new location is a hard process – it involves careful attention, publicity to attract new customers. None of this has been provided. We kept our goods with the promise that we would receive anew place but it never came. I’ve been paying for storage up until now, with the believe and hope I could continue my business….but I would like the support from the council to continue.’

Elephant Arcade struggles

A representative from the Elephant Arcade will also be on the deputation. They will be telling the Council of the difficulties of trading from their new premises, at the bottom of Perronet House, just opposite the Bakerloo line tube entrance.

Yousaf Dar, of Dar Bags, says ‘We were working at the shopping centre, my dad almost 15 years, me the last 10 years. Business was good. When the shopping centre closed, we asked them not to put us in Elephant Arcade, and still they placed us in there. They told us we would be opposite a Western Union, but when we arrived we were opposite another shop that was the same business as our own. After the pandemic, there were no customers, no business. We were struggling too much, we couldn’t even afford to pay rent, that’s why we decided to leave. Now we have been left at the side of the road, so we are not in a position to start another business, and have no access to relocation support. I don’t want to go on Universal Credit, I want to work at my business, but I may have to.’

Southwark must do more

The traders are being supported by Latin Elephant, which advocates on behalf of all traders, the Southwark Law Centre and the Up the Elephant campaign, which fought against the demolition of the shopping centre.

Natalia Perez of Latin Elephant said ‘A year on since the closure and demolition of the shopping centre in Elephant and Castle, Latin Elephant reiterates the demands for a proper scrutiny of the s106 legal agreements signed by developers, so that every trader that has been displaced is relocated; that the necessary funds are released by developers to cover moving and fit-out costs and not passed on as a burden to independent traders and that the much needed investment in the relocation sites are put in place for the benefit of the traders, as well as the local community’.

Harpreet Aujla of Southwark Law Centre said ‘Southwark Council have a big part to play in resolving the problems traders face moving from their old premises. They have legal agreements with both Delancey and Lendlease to make sure that the traders get the money that they need to relocate. So far, though, Southwark has just been happy to go along with whatever Delancey and Lendlease have offered. This is not good enough. Southwark must make that clear to Delancey and Lendlease, other these businesses will be lost to the Elephant’.

Jerry Flynn, of the Up the Elephant said ‘Traders are not looking for hand-outs or charity. They are looking for Southwark and the big developers to fulfill the promises that were made before the shopping centre was demolished. Southwark Council said that no-one would be left behind in the Elephant’s regeneration – now is the time to prove it’.

35% Campaign

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).

Regards
Jerry

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

Elephant Amenity Network

18 Market Place
Blue Anchor Lane

London

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.

Regards

Jerry

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

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.
Read in browser »
 
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
follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend 
35% Campaign

35% Campaign – Elephant Park – planning committee misled?

Elephant Park – planning committee misled?

Mar 01, 2020 12:00 am

Lendlease fails to declare public funding for affordable housing -Developer Lendlease failed to disclose at Last week’s planning committee meeting that it was in receipt of public funding, which could have increased the amount of affordable housing at Elephant Park (aka the Heygate estate regeneration).

The meeting was called because of the large number of objections to the final phase (H7 MP5) and the lack of additional affordable housing. We explained in our previous blog how Lendlease have met their 25% affordable housing requirement, while increasing the total number of homes, but without increasing the number of affordable homes or proportion of social rent (3%).

One of the objections, from the 35% Campaign, was that “There appears to have been no effort to take advantage of any public funding”. Southwark responded by saying: “There is no obligation on Lendlease to seek public funds.” (para 282, 283 of the officer’s report)

The planning committee followed this up in their cross examination of Lendlease, who were asked directly by Cllr King whether they had considered applying for grant funding:

 See video clip of committee meeting on youtube here.

In a lengthy reply, Lendlease did not disclose that the Mayor had in fact committed to fund Elephant Park, back in September 2018.

Elephant Park is the very first entry on a list of estate regeneration projects on the Mayor’s website, which have had funding approved since July 2018.

This gives rise to a number of questions:

  1. Why did Lendlease not say that they had received funding when the question was asked?
  2. Why were the committee members not told that Lendlease has received funding in the committee report?
  3. How much money has Lendlease received from the Mayor?
  4. Why has the affordable housing offer not been improved?

We suspect that the answer to this lies in the murky world of viability; Lendlease insisted in 2013 that only 9.4% of the new homes could be viably provided as affordable.

They repeated this at the planning committee meeting last week and would no doubt argue that any money they have received from the Mayor has gone to bridging the gap between what is viable and the 25% being delivered.

Whatever the merits of this argument (and we think it has none) it still leaves open the question of why Lendlease and the officers report did not disclose the grant funding to members.

There is a similarity here to the ongoing dispute about affordable housing in the shopping centre development. Developer Delancey claims that the £11.24m it is also receiving from the Mayor is being used to increase the amount of social rented housing. We showed previously how it was going to Delancey’s bottom line:

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Elephant Park - planning committee misled? on Facebook

35% Campaign update – Elephant Park – final phase, final windfall for Lendlease

Elephant Park – final phase, final windfall for Lendlease

Feb 21, 2020 12:00 am

Last phase of Heygate regeneration set for approval with increase in number of homes but no increase in affordable. -We blogged last year about the final phase (MP5 H7) of the Heygate regeneration.

Lendlease’s application for 424 new homes (15 social rent) in this final phase is now set to be approved by the Council’s planning committee on Monday.

If approved without a viability review it will seal an increase in the number of new homes beyond that approved by Southwark’s planning committee back in 2013, without any increase in the number of affordable homes. This will result in a total of 2,689 homes (220 more than approved in 2013) of which 92 will be social rent.

 Extract from the 2013 Outline application Committee report

This windfall gives Lendlease the revenue of 220 extra homes that were not included in the original viability assessment of the scheme, which was based on 2,469 units. This allowed Lendlease to build 25% instead of 35% affordable housing and to reduce the required amount of social rented homes to next to nothing. Taking account of the 220 extra homes could have improved both the viability of the whole scheme and the affordable housing offer.

Reviewing viability

We noted in our previous blog that Southwark has neglected to carry out any viability review. Monday’s planning committee report reiterates this, stating: “The council has no mechanism to insist on a viability review” (para 129)

However, this looks to be contradicted by the terms of the Regeneration Agreement between Southwark and Lendlease, which provides a mechanism for the affordable housing mix to be reviewed on an annual basis.

If these annual reviews had been taking place it should have been reflected in higher levels of social rented housing. The fact that the tenure mix hasn’t changed suggests that they haven’t.

Grant Funding

We also noted in our previous blogpost that the 2013 planning committee anticipated that the regeneration could benefit from public funding if it became available.

 Extract from the 2013 Outline application Committee report

This was in line with the Regeneration Agreement, which also obliged the parties to seek grant funding:

Such funding has been available since 2016 when Sadiq Khan announced a £4.6bn funding programme, but despite the 2013 planning committee’s intention and the Regeneration Agreement’s obligation, Lendlease has made no funding application.

Also, despite this clear contractual obligation, Southwark nonetheless states in Monday’s committee report for the final phase“There is no obligation on Lendlease to seek public funds.” (para 283)

Given the clear obligation on Lendlease to seek grant funding, we say that until Lendlease does so Southwark should reject this final phase application.

Southwark should also reject the application unless Lendlease commits to a viability review. There are a number of reasons why this is necessary. Not only was the original viability assessment based on fewer homes than the number actually being built, but also the free-market homes are being sold for twice Lendlease’s viability assessment estimate.

Another significant change to viability since the original assessment has been Lendlease’s recent decision to let, rather than sell homes in the later phases of the scheme.

Monday’s planning committee should also take account of Policy 3.12 of the Mayor’s London Plan, which says that “The maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing should be sought .. having regard to .. individual circumstances including development viability, {and} the availability of public subsidy.

The Elephant Park development lost Southwark 1,200 council homes. This final phase is Southwark Council’s last chance to (partially) redeem itself by insisting Lendlease abides by its obligations, reviews the viability of the scheme and applies for grant funding.

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like Elephant Park - final phase, final windfall for Lendlease on Facebook