Southwark Council has been warned that Elephant and Castle’s Latin American community could be badly damaged by radical plans to redevelop the shopping centre.
Patria Roman of Latin Elephant, a charity promoting minority-ethnic communities in London, believes the scheme poses “significant risks” for twelve Latin businesses in the Shopping Centre.
Property developer Delancey submitted plans in October, which includes a new university campus, a new shopping centre, and 979 homes.
Patria has criticised Delancey for not fulfilling a council planning policy: that at least ten percent of new shop space will be designed for displaced businesses at “affordable” rates (a discount of at least 40 per cent of market value).
Delancey’s current plans say this would be “unviable and inappropriate given the intention to create a strong retail/leisure anchor”. But when asked by the News, it said it would “respond to points raised during the public consultation”.
Delancey also told the News it “will not be providing translated planning documents” for Latin businesses who do not have English as a first-language, saying this is not required by the council.
There are 96 Latin American businesses around the Elephant and Castle Area, and Patria hopes they can be “mobilised” in order to influence the regeneration scheme.
“We are trying to encourage them to submit their own individual consultation responses,” Patria said. “And we want to know how Southwark will respond to our concerns, but I suppose we need to wait until the consultation has finished to receive a formal response from the consultation process.”
Last year Latin Elephant presented a strategy to Southwark Council, to create a Latin Boulevard and Latin Quarter for displaced businesses along the Elephant Road and Eagles Yard archways. They hope Southwark will put demands on Delancey to help develop this project.
A Delancey spokesperson told the News it had agreed to create a directory of available retail spaces outside of the centre, which will be presented to businesses before they are required to vacate. On concerns about providing affordable units, the spokeswoman said: “Shops have been developed for a number of existing tenants at the Elephant Road site. These will offer discounted rents for the first five years… Further information about these units, eligibility and the application process will be announced later on this year.”
“[Delancey] is offering free-of-charge guidance with finding independent legal or property advice to ensure tenants can plan for the future,” she said.
Mark Williams, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by Latin Elephant and these will be considered… throughout the planning consultation process.
“We have also been talking directly with businesses at the shopping centre to understand their concerns and we will be raising these with Delancey.
“The traders and Latin Elephant have some really good ideas about how the regeneration of Elephant and Castle can support existing communities and we will continue to listen to, and work with them.”