In an open letter published after Tuesday’s key decision which approved Delancey’s regeneration proposals, ward councillors railed against ‘the use of public money to rectify the colossal failings of a massive private developer’ and called on Sadiq Khan to step in.
Labour Councillor Rebecca Lury, was joined by her fellow ward councillors Darren Merrill and Martin Seaton in making their objections to the committee at last night’s planning meeting.
Cllr Seaton had rescinded his place as planning committee chair for the vote due to a conflict of interest as his North Walworth ward is affected by the scheme.
Instead, he joined his colleagues in formally objecting to Delancey’s plans, as they made their case to committee members who had been advised to vote in favour by the council’s planning officers after Cllr Hamish McCallum proposed a motion in favour.
Liberal Democrat Cllr McCollum said he was satisfied that Delancey’s updated offer addressed previous concerns, with increased support for traders affected by demolition and 116 social homes, as opposed to the 74 previously tabled in January this year, and received the backing of fellow Lib Dem Cllr Cleo Soanes.
However, the scheme still falls short of being fully compliant with the council’s own policy on social housing – which would require 165 units rather than the 116 offered.
Cllr Lury told the committee that the although Delancey had vastly improved its offer, displacement of traders could be devastating to the community and it was disappointing that the increase of social housing came at the expense of the number of homes set at London Living Rent – and due to GLA funding and not Delancey’s own profits.
After decision in favour of Delancey’s plans, Labour councillors published an open letter signed by all three North Walworth councillors, Chaucer councillors Helen Dennis and Sirajul Islam, and Faraday’s Jack Buck and Paul W. Fleming, calling on Sadiq Khan to intervene, as the council’s planning approval is still subject to the London Mayor’s assent.
The full open letter is below:
“As councillors representing the wards in and around Elephant and Castle, we have all expressed vocal opposition to Delancey’s proposals to regenerate the Elephant and Castle shopping Centre since their initial application to Southwark’s planning committee in 2017.
“We are extremely disappointed in the decision, based on officer advice, which passed the application this evening.
“We were unconvinced by the evidence submitted to the meeting today which has not satisfied our concerns around the levels of social housing delivered, the fate of the Latin American businesses, and community organisations at the centre, or that it satisfies our public sector equalities duty.
“We comment the committee in securing positive conditions around the Section 106 Agreement which will fund community infrastructure, but we do not believe this meaningfully addresses our significant concerns.
“We now call on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to pressure Delancey in delivering a better deal before signing off on this decision.
“We need more social homes, to protect our vibrant trading community and secure a development which recognises the cultural and economic diversity of the area.
“As a Labour Mayor of London, he must insist on changes which can fix these significant moral and policy failings.
“In the meantime, we will continue to support the community through the next stages of this development.
“As municipal socialists we are glad that the council has come forward with a plan to support traders at Peronet House, but find little comfort in the use of public money to rectify the colossal failings of a massive private developer.
“We will ensure our council and Delancey deliver the very best deal for the community at and around the Elephant, both now and long into the future.”
Delancey was approached for comment.