The final vote on controversial Elephant and Castle town centre regeneration plans will take place at next week’s council meeting on Tuesday July 3 – as Delancey tells its critics it can’t get more funding for social housing but that affordable rents are ‘in our interest’.
Stafford Lancaster, a director at Delancey, told the News on Tuesday: “We are committed to providing as much affordable housing as possible in the new town centre in Elephant and Castle.
“A key part of the success of our project at East Village in Stratford has been its diverse mix of homes offered at both market and affordable rents, alongside independent retailers.
“It is in our interest to offer these new homes for rent at levels that are realistic for local people, to ensure a vibrant community now and into the future.
“Since the last planning committee in January, we have increased the social rent offering in the new town centre by 3.5 times to 116 homes.
“We have achieved this by securing grant funding from The Greater London Authority; the maximum amount of funding we are able to secure.
“There might also a viability review mechanism that will provide more lower cost housing as the town centre becomes more established.
“It’s really important to recognise that we are investing in Elephant and Castle for the long term.
“Delivering diversity in both the residential and retail offer in the new town centre is essential to its long term success, alongside the world class education and new transport.”
Planning committee councillors will decide whether to greenlight developer Delancey’s plans, five months after the decision was deferred at a tense council meeting on January 16 that ran into the early hours.
After a protracted campaign, Delancey has now tabled a significantly revised planning application – but campaigners say it still falls short of their demands.
Delancey’s proposals would see the shopping centre demolished and a new town centre built, including a new base for the London College of Communication, new housing on land currently not residential, and retail units for traders.
The application submitted to the planning committee in January included 33 homes at social rent (ten per cent of the total), 158 at London living rent (40 per cent of the total) and half – 145 – at ‘discount market rate’.
The social rent homes will be owned and managed by Southwark Council or another registered provider. Discount market rate means homes have their rent capped at 80 per cent of market rent, while London living rent is eligible for households of incomes up to £60,000.
The revised offer to be debated has increased the proportion of social rent homes to 116, but has reduced the number of homes at London living rent to 53 and increased the number at discount market rate to 161.
The number of social rent homes has become one of the biggest sticking points in the bid, with campaigners saying the offer ‘gives with one hand and takes away with another’, as reported by the News last week.
Up the Elephant – supported by the 35% campaign, Southwark Green Party, and Defend Council Housing – want Delancey’s profits to pay for half the housing to be at social rent and half at London Living Rent.
‘Up the Elephant’ campaigners say they will be turning out in force on Tuesday at 5.30pm in a last-ditch protest outside the council’s offices on Tooley Street, lobbying councillors to reject the revised offer.