A legal challenge arguing that developer Delancey ‘misled’ Southwark Council over its Elephant and Castle regeneration proposals has been mounted by campaigners who hope planning approval for the scheme can be overturned in court.
Groups including the 35% campaign, Up the Elephant, and Southwark Defend Council Housing want to take their claims to the planning court, arguing that Delancey was not upfront with councillors about the number of social housing in the scheme and how they would be delivered.
A crowdfunder has now been launched with £2,361 pledged against a target of £5,000 to help pay costs. The challenge is being supported by Southwark Law Centre and the Public Interest Law Centre.
Out of a total of 979 homes built to rent on the site, which currently has no housing, 330 will be ‘affordable’ and 116 at social rent. Campaigners say funding from the London Mayor’s office could give the scheme an extra 42 homes but this has been rejected by Delancey.
Jerry Flynn, from the 35% campaign, said the social housing outlined in the plans will only be completed if the ‘west side’ part of the proposals are delivered, which will not be built for another decade.
He claimed the ‘devil in the detail’ meant the developer had ‘managed to pull the wood over the council’s eyes with a deal which could leave us with little or no social rented housing’.
Campaigners have also criticised the impact on existing businesses who will have to move during the redevelopment.
A spokesperson for Distriandina, one of London’s oldest Latin American dance and music venues, which also has a restaurant, coffee shop and bakery, says the relocation options offered would mean significant reduction in their floor space, meaning it may not be able to continue as a live music and dance venue.
“Any development scheme in Elephant and Castle should seek to mitigate the impact on the existing community as much as possible,” the spokesperson explained.
“As it currently stands, this development scheme fails to do this, due to its limited relocation fund for traders, lack of suitable relocation options for larger traders and complete disregard for the Latin American cultural institutions in Elephant and Castle.”
Responding to a request to comment on the claims councillors had been ‘misled’ over the proposals, a council spokesperson told the News: “We are aware of the application but as this is now a legal matter for the courts, the council will not be commenting further until the outcome of the proceedings are known.”
Meanwhile, a representative for Delancey said the legal challenge was ‘disappointing’ and warned the move would only create more uncertainty for traders.
“It is now likely the timeline for starting on site will be pushed back which is likely to have a direct impact on a significant number of the existing businesses located in the shopping centre, who were hoping for stability and certainty in order to plan for their future,” the spokesperson told the News.
“We remain committed to creating a thriving town centre in Elephant and Castle, and are confident about the significant benefits that the redevelopment would bring to the area, both now and in the future.
“We will consider our next steps as we await the outcome of the judicial review process.”