A fresh round of protests against the Elephant and Castle town centre regeneration are planned this week, after campaigners demanded that University of the Arts London – one of the developer’s partners – reject Delancey’s revised offer.
As the News reported in March, after lobbying from residents and businesses, Delancey submitted revised plans to Southwark Council, with several concessions including 74 homes at social rent – with the aim of increasing to 116 and ten per cent affordable retail units.
Delancey had also said it was ‘looking to provide temporary retail space for displaced traders’ and a relocation fund of £634,700 would also be distributed by the council.
Councillor’s final votes on plans were put on hold as the elections rapidly approached, with a final vote expected in the coming months.
But now campaigners have targeted University of the Arts London with renewed efforts, lobbying it with an open letter sent by the 35% campaign stating that Delancey’s offer ‘gives with one hand and takes away with another’.
The university’s London College of Communication’s new campus building is part of the Elephant and Castle development.
The letter demands that the university backtracks on its support for Delancey unless the developer can promise 35% housing – with half at social rent and half at London Living Rent, relocation or compensation for all traders, and a commitment to keep the bingo and bowling halls on site.
The letter goes on to say: “We are not opposed to development and the improvement of the Elephant and Castle area, in fact we would welcome it. We also appreciate LCC’s need for a new building.
“Our issue with the current proposal is that it does not bring tangible benefits to local people in terms of housing (or leisure), nor for existing traders and that is why we are asking for your support in putting forward these demands.”
Signatories include Alvey Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, the Rockingham Community Association and Southwark Law Centre.
Protestors plan to stage a demonstration outside the London College of Communication on Thursday June 20, at 6pm, under the ‘Up the Elephant’ banner.
Tanya Murat, chair of Defend Southwark Council Housing, told the News why she signed the letter: “Some changes have been made to the planning application but it still falls far short of our demands.
“We want homes for people not for profit, a place for all the traders and community organisations and the bingo and bowling should stay.
“This is our Elephant, not theirs.”
In a reply seen by the News on Monday, Natalie Brett, head of college for University of the Arts London, confirmed its support for Delancey’s proposals: “It is our understanding from both Southwark Borough Council and Delancey, that the current proposals for affordable housing, the relocation strategy for traders, and leisure facilities have all moved forward materially from the original application and that they are continuing to work with stakeholders on finding solutions to provide a positive outcome for all parties.
“The campaign’s lobbying has paid significant dividends and while this may not meet all of your aspirations, we believe that the proposal will offer many educational, cultural and economic opportunities for local communities.”
The letter goes on to say that the college’s future in Elephant and Castle is ‘not assured’, as ‘staying in our current building is not an option.’
A spokesperson for Delancey said: “Since the Planning Committee in January 2018, we have been working hard to revise our offer for the new Elephant and Castle Town Centre.
“We will continue to inform the community on the revised plans and await details of the confirmed Planning Committee date in due course.”