BY TOBY PORTER
A developer hoping to make up to £153.75million from a development of nearly 1,000 new homes has offered to build more of them for cheap rent.
Regeneration company Delancey’s £1billion plans for Elephant & Castle were rejected by Southwark’s planning committee by four votes to three on January 16 because there was not enough social housing.
But the company has now made a new offer to town hall chiefs to allow them to place tenants in some of the flats at low cost.
The new offer has been welcomed by groups who campaigned for more council housing – but they want to see more evidence that the developers will help traders in the current shopping centre before calling off their vocal protests, which have been held outside the last two Southwark council planning committee meetings.
Delancey says it is revising its plans in response to local opposition to the original scheme.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Delancey has listened to the concerns and issues raised by the local community, ward councillors and Southwark council on our initial planning application for the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle Town Centre.
“We have worked hard to find agreeable resolutions to these concerns, for which we have submitted a revised offer to Southwark today. A consultation process will be started to present and discuss these specific proposals and how they respond to the issues raised.”
The revised offer includes:
- 74 social rent housing uniys within Blocks W1 & W2 of the Oswin Street mansion properties
- A commitment to convert a further 42 housing units from London Living Rent to Social Rent within Block W3 of Oswin Street mansion properties, pending resolution of grant funding and/or final viability review
- All social rented housing will be owned and managed by either Southwark council or another registered provider
- Creation of an Elephant Box Park on Castle Square to further supplement the independent trader relocation strategy for the shopping centre.
- A full-time multi-lingual community engagement officer to be employed and located in the shopping centre to actively assist this relocation process
- Revision of Pastor Street to create a vibrant, affordable, mixed commercial environment and creation of a Pastor Street Advisory Group to develop the vision
- Palatial Leisure (which runs Palace Bingo in the existing shopping centre) to lead the relocation of existing bingo within the locality by March 2019, and leisure space on the Western site to be offered in priority to a commercial bingo operation.
There will now be a 21-day re-consultation on these proposals.
The statement added it would involve “a continuation of our work with Cathedrals and East Walworth ward councillors, Southwark council and other interested local parties, to discuss the issues and concerns raised regarding the previously submitted proposal, and to carry out detailed discussions around the new updated offer.
“We look forward to continuing to work with all the relevant parties to reach a mutually acceptable and positive result for all, and a conclusion which delivers the new town centre and essential improvements to the transport, education and housing provision for the community in and around Elephant & Castle.”
Tanya Murat, from Southwark Defend Council Housing, said: “We don’t want to see councillors accepting a scheme that only slightly improves on the one they threw out. The increase in social rented housing is welcome but this needs to be genuinely affordable and secure council housing and we are worried that Delancey wants to push this application through without enough detail or time for the community to be involved.
“Delancey should attend public meetings and listen to our views.”
Jerry Flynn, of 35% Campaign, which demands all developments have 35 per cent social housing, said:
“This marks progress from Delancey, but there is still some way to go before we get a scheme that gives us all the social rented and other affordable housing we need.
“The traders must also be actively involved in considering the proposed Castle Square box park. There are a lot of practical questions to be answered, such as how much space will it will provide and it will take time to 90work through this.”
Patria Román Velázquez, founder and chairwoman of Latin Elephant, said: “We acknowledge there have been some advancements as to what the community has achieved and we are still in a process in which we can negotiate a fair deal for our communities in Elephant.
“This offer is yet another attempt from the developer to make concession to our demands. However, we need to keep in mind it comes after four years involving them in consultation – and a year of opposition – and finally these concessions are coming through.
“We would like to know the offer in detail as traders are once more surrounded by uncertainties on their relocation and their future, that is why we are permanently consulting them to voice their concerns.”