A High Court action to block a £2billion redevelopment has failed.
Campaigners raised thousands of pounds to fight plan by developers Delancey to build almost 1,000 homes at the Elephant & Castle.
There will be 116 social housing flats - less than half the 35 per cent minimum target by Southwark for new developments and a fraction of the 50 per cent London Mayor Sadiq Khan has targeted.
Campaigners say they fear for traders who have not been promised new premises after the demolition of the 55-year-old mall – the first covered shopping centre in Europe.
The High Court decision was made on Monday by Mr Justice Dove, after a two-day judicial review hearing in the Planning Court in October.
The legal challenge was brought after a three-year campaign, which brought together housing campaigners, students, tenants’ groups, local councillors and trade unionists in the fight for more social rented housing and a better deal for traders, displaced by the proposed development.
The decision clears the way for the demolition of the mall and construction of new shops, homes and a new London College of Communication (LCC) campus – part of the University of the Arts, London – whose current 1960s building will be demolished.
The shopping centre has a high concentration of Latin American traders and campaigners fear they will be forced to move from the hub.
The campaigners will mount a protest at Southwark council’s next assembley meeting for the traders on January 28 in Tooley Street at 6pm.
The Up the Elephant Campaign led to a string of improvements on the original plans, submitted in October 2016 – such as:
– The original had 33 “social rent” flats – but owned and managed by Delancey. It now has 116 proper social rented units, owned and managed by Southwark council or housing association
– It now has affordable shop space
– An established traders’ panel
– Temporary traders’ premises on Castle Square
– Trader relocation fund of £634,700
– 15-year affordable shop leases (rents to be held at 75 per cent)
– If Delancey make more profit than currently budgeted, the firm will allocate more social housing
Jerry Flynn of Up the Elephant, who lodged the judicial review in the High Court, said: “We are naturally disappointed the court has not found in our favour. We will be looking at the judgement very carefully with our lawyers and then deciding our next step, including the possibility of appeal.”
Tanya Murat, of Southwark Defend Council Housing, who support the campaign, said: “We fear Delancey will now move quickly to get the traders out of the shopping centre and the market. Only about half of the traders have new premises and even those are often small and unsuitable. Delancey are short-changing the traders and Southwark council must act to get them a better deal.”
Paul Heron, solicitor from the Public Interest Law Centre said: “We are disappointed by this judgement. In our view the court in this judgement has been far too forgiving of the advice that officers provided to the councillors which lead to planning permission being granted. We will be studying the judgment carefully, and we would not rule out a challenge to the Court of Appeal.”
An Up The Elephant said: “Many of the traders are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the Elephant’s Latin-American community fear that the development will destroy a social hub that attracts compatriots from across London.”
The application generated more than 1,000 objections, and was deferred three times.
Councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for development, growth and planning, said: “This decision means work can now begin to deliver a new home for the London College of Communications and a new Northern line station with escalators, which TfL has stated is urgently needed to combat overcrowding. New homes, jobs and leisure facilities such as space for a cinema and a new live music venue have also been outlined as part of our ambitions to revitalise the Elephant and Castle.
“More immediately, this brings to an end a period of uncertainty for traders and we will continue to work with the businesses to support them and help them not just find a new home but also grow and thrive in it. However we recognise the concerns raised by some local people about aspects of the regeneration, and I would like to assure them, and the whole community, that we will continue to work with our residents, businesses and the developers to ensure no one is left behind.”
A spokeswoman from Delancey said: “We are committed to creating a thriving town centre in Elephant and Castle, and are confident about the significant benefits the redevelopment will bring to the area, both now and in the future.
“The redevelopment will create a new Zone 1 destination, providing 979 new homes (including 35% affordable housing) on a site where none currently exist and at a time when the Capital’s housing provision is under significant strain. It will also create 2.5 acres of high quality public realm and a much-needed new Northern Line entrance, escalators and ticket hall. This will represent a circa £1 billion investment into the area and is integral to Southwark’s wider regeneration plan for the area.
“In addition, the redevelopment will include a cutting-edge new building for London College of Communication, UAL and a centre for UAL’s core university services, ensuring the leading education establishment can remain in the area alongside around 175,000 sq. ft. of new leisure facilities, shops, cafes and restaurants. We are committed to keeping the community updated and to working closely with the existing businesses in the shopping centre and other local stakeholders as we move forward with our plans.
“We will now look to finalise work on the relocation process, which we have been working on with and for the benefit of the independent traders over the last 2 years. We will shortly commence with the construction of Castle Square which will provide temporary, flexible and affordable retail space in close proximity to the existing shopping centre. We take our responsibility extremely seriously, and will be updating and working very closely with the local community and other stakeholders as we move forward with our plans.”
The group who brought forward the challenge now have until the end of January 2020 to confirm if they wish to appeal the decision.