We all know the answer to “Opportunity for Whom?” Disregard for existing communities has been the keynote of the Elephant & Castle Opportunity Area. The Mayor’s new London Plan has big ambitions, in particular the target of 65,000 new homes a year, delivered mainly through additional Opportunity Areas across the city. But they will fail unless London stops ignoring or actively displacing existing communities in so-called regenerations, and instead puts them first. A formal recognition of Existing Communities would include a Right to Community, with clear definitions of community and a set of subsidiary rights, including to clean air.
This is an opportunity for change: combining big principles, clear entitlements, and a guerilla localism to bring the benefits of development home.
Keep the community together, say local campaigners and Green Party
Aylesbury residents have been fighting plans from Labour-run Southwark Council to demolish their homes. The second public inquiry is due to complete in April. Across the Aylesbury, 2,700 council homes are to be destroyed. None will be built in their place. Previous experience of the Heygate demolition suggests council tenants will be rehoused in scattered locations across Southwark, losing their communities while rents may increase.
Aylesbury Estate homeowners are being hit with Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) which will force them out with payoffs much too low to buy any other property in the area or even in London. The UK Government previously recognised that Southwark’s plans breach the homeowners’ human rights.
The Walworth community is fighting to save one of the last surviving Victorian scene-painting studios, based at 'Flints' at the Queens Row. Harkers Studio housed a local business which served both the theatre industry and the wider arts community. Labour-run Southwark Council has granted planning permission to redevelop the building into flats and office space, without much consultation.
It’s crucial the Mayor knows that we care about breathing clean healthy air. His plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) leave Londoners in the outer boroughs with the weakest protections against air pollution from vehicles. And the current area proposed for the ULEZ (in red on the right - click to enlarge) doesn’t even include all of Southwark!
The plans could make the roads around the South Circular even more polluted and congested as people try to avoid paying by skirting around the ULEZ. We are replying to the consultation on behalf of Southwark Green Party, and you can add your voice to show the Mayor that Londoners want him to take strong action on air pollution.
Please ask the Mayor to:
- Make the expanded ULEZ London-wide
- Apply the standards to all vehicles not just lorries, buses and coaches
- Introduce the ULEZ by 2020.
[Take the 5-min survey...] If you prefer, you can write with your comments c/o Freepost TfL Consultations. Deadline: 28 February 2018.
(Question 5 is the most important - say that the area MUST be larger. In question 6, ask that this comes in sooner.)
John Tyson of Southwark Green Party speaks at tonight's large community demonstration against the Elephant & Castle "regeneration" plans - outside the Southwark Council Planning Committee meeting due to decide whether or not they can go ahead.
Estate demolition: it’s not a good deal, it’s not a done deal
Southwark Greens are taking a keen interest in the Aylesbury estate inquiry which opened today (Tuesday 9 January). The inquiry will hear evidence about whether Southwark Council should be allowed to make compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for flats on the Aylesbury Estate, ‘for the purpose of redevelopment and regeneration’. The Inspector will report back to the Secretary of State - Sajid Javid of the recently renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Many people have expressed surprise about the way that Labour councillors have slipped a new sentence into the council’s ‘Area Vision' for Camberwell, Peckham and the Old Kent Road.
The new sentence reads: ‘The Camberwell (Peckham/Old Kent Road) Area Vision will provide as many homes as possible, while respecting the local character of the area. There may be opportunities for taller buildings on key development sites in appropriate locations.’
Wells Way resident Donnachadh McCarthy said the new phrasing 'means we would have ZERO legal grounds to oppose ANY skyscraper in future in Camberwell & Peckham, no matter what the height or where the location'.
Southwark Council has received funds from Transport for London to create Quietway 7 from Elephant and Castle to Dulwich. The Quietways are designed to be safe and pleasant for people aged 8-80, of all abilities, for trips to school, work and shops. No lycra required! The changes will also improve the streets for people on foot, including new crossings along the route, and wider pavements outside Brunswick Park on Benhill Road.
But contractors working for Notting Hill Housing on Edmund Street put in two new humps along the Quietway route – and made them the wrong shape!
As train fares go up, the Green Party is calling for railways to be brought back into public ownership. Rail fares rose by 3.4 per cent on January 1, 2018, costing many people up to an additional £150 a year.
This week, Southwark campaigners are protesting against the increases at Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye stations. They are sharing the Green Party petition to bring the railways back into public ownership and asking Southwark residents to write to Harriet Harman, Helen Hayes and Neil Coyle to find out what solutions they support.
The cluster of around 100 Latin American businesses in the Elephant & Castle area continues to fear for its future. The Latin community has been here for decades, adding hugely to local cultural and community life. There are many Latin businesses in Elephant Shopping Centre, most of them family-run.
Southwark Council is due to decide on Tuesday 16th January on permission for demolition and redevelopment of Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, plus the London College of Communication (LCC) site. If permission is granted, property company Delancey plans to begin demolition work in September 2019.
200 objections have been lodged by the local community to Delancey’s current redevelopment plans. The Green Party’s submissions highlighted numerous features which many local people find unacceptable:
North Walworth has been subjected to years of “regeneration”, resulting in very scarce public benefits but staggering profits for Lendlease. The next phase of “regeneration” at the Shopping Centre only acknowledged the existing traders and community after the offshore developers submitted their planning application. Is there really no alternative?
Part of the only proper pedestrian route through Victory Community Park will remain sealed out of use until 2019, Southwark Council has admitted in an answer to Green activist Peter Baffoe.
The Grenfell Tower disaster left the whole nation in shock, but the similarities to Southwark’s own tragic fire in 2009 at Lakanal House, Camberwell, where six died, were startling.
Green activist John Tyson and Green London Assembly member Sian Berry presented a petition with over 100,000 signatures to the Home Office calling on the Government to implement recommendations from the Lakanal inquest. Proposals such as retro-fitting sprinklers, made by the coroner in a letter sent to government ministers in 2013, were largely ignored.
The Council’s response to fire safety has been heavy handed, and caused distress to some residents. Some have raised concerns that the zero tolerance to all outside furniture is too reminiscent of what came in after Lakanal. What about reviews of compartment breaches?
John says, ‘A key lesson from Grenfell was that we need to listen to people. Residents raised concerns that weren’t heard. Our response needs to be to find fire safety measures that are practical, ensure safety, but recognise individual needs.’
As Greens we believe our homes are a fundamental basic right. Whether you own or rent, you want to know you and your loved ones have somewhere to live. And there’s no more important time than over winter.
Green activist John Tyson worked throughout the summer with the Ledbury Action Group to get the Council to commit to rehousing residents and safeguarding their estate, in Peckham. Successive councils had ignored residents’ concerns over building safety, and an engineers’ report finally commissioned this year found that the four blocks were at risk of collapse from a gas explosion.
Why are council estates in London being demolished at a time of housing crisis, replaced by luxury flats that most Londoners cannot afford to live in? This question is central to the work of writer Anna Minton.
Anna, whom we were delighted to welcome as guest speaker at our AGM on 9 November, is reader in architecture at the University of East London and the author of the acclaimed study Big Capital: Who Is London For?, published this year by Penguin. Speaking to an audience of Green Party members and supporters at Camberwell Library, Anna gave a powerful presentation, looking at the impact of the huge sums of money from overseas that have washed up in our city since the financial crisis. For these foreign investors, property is the commodity asset of choice, and London is, in effect, their tax haven.
Southwark Greens support the cross-party local campaign for a tube station at the Bricklayer’s Arms.
At a well-supported demonstration on Saturday 4 November, Peter Wright from Living Streets demolished the claim that it would be ‘too close’ to other tube stations – it’s farther to any of the nearby stations than the average distance on the Bakerloo line. Simon Hughes pointed out that the original plans for the Jubilee line didn’t include a stop at Southwark – now a very busy station. Caroline Pidgeon pointed out that major investment and disruption are already proposed for the construction of a ventilation shaft - constructing a station would be a relatively small additional cost. And a tube station need not be a large building, since most of the business happens below ground – Bermondsey tube station is a good example of this.
Eleanor Margolies from Southwark Green Party affirmed the local party’s support for a station at Bricklayer’s Arms and asked for it to be set in the context of local travel needs.
The terrible loss of life in the Grenfell Tower disaster was something many people thought could never happen in Britain. But Grenfell was not an isolated tragedy. In 2009, six people died in a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, which highlighted issues that could have prevented Grenfell.
John Tyson, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has drawn up a petition calling for the immediate implementation of the 2013 report on the Lakanal fire. The petition now has more than 80,000 signatures – you can sign it here.
Southwark Council is consulting on the status of Camberwell Grove. The road goes over the railway via a bridge, just south of the junction with McNeil Road. This bridge has been closed to all motor traffic since October 2016, due to structural failure.
The council website says: 'Repairs to the bridge will soon be completed by Network Rail, which will allow it to be reopened for small motor vehicles (under 3 tonne) with traffic lights allowing alternate one-way flows to cater for both north and south-bound traffic'. The council wants to hear your views before taking a final decision on reopening the bridge. The consultation page is here (closing Monday 30 October).
We encourage Southwark residents to respond. Read on for our comments.
Southwark Green Party at the Greens’ autumn conference in Harrogate, 7-10 October 2017
This was an occasion that injected a new spring into the steps of all those who were there, and we left with a fresh sense of purpose. Here is my personal view.