Elephant & Castle neighbourhood

Three different wards border Elephant & Castle roundabout. This is the neighbourhood page for wards north and west of Elephant roundabout - Chaucer and St George's.

For the area south of New Kent Road, please go to the pages of Walworth Green Party.

Latest news and views from Chaucer and St George's wards


Sian_Berry_and_John_Tyson_hand_in_petition.jpgThe 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.’

John_Tyson_Ledbury_Estate.jpgAs 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.

Greens in Southwark campaign with businesses and communities to protect and improve

Across Southwark regeneration has brought significant change, but who really benefits? The Green Party is committed to making sure locals are given the opportunity to make their areas work for them. Local voices have an expert knowledge of their area, of what needs to be preserved, and what needs to be changed.

  • Our activists are helping traders and locals worried about the proposed demolition of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre, which has been a vital community asset for decades
  • John Tyson started a petition to save bingo at the shopping centre. Older residents are being discriminated against under current regeneration plans.
  • We're supporting locals opposing proposed development on Tam Street until it's shown how it will benefit the community.
  • Whilst the Council is proposing to spend £1.2m on Dickens Square park regeneration, we’re asking why they’ve cut their parks teams from 5 to 2.
  • Southwark Greens joined local businesses in a cross-party campaign calling on TfL to add a tube station at Bricklayers roundabout to their proposed Bakerloo extension.
  • We’re engaging with the amazing Vital OKR, who are working to stop the demolition of crucial businesses and industry on the Old Kent Road.
  • Southwark Greens are helping Lokma Restaurant, who want the Council to help preserve Bermondsey Abbey ruins beneath their floor.

Challenging Southwark Council's repairs service

Ever needed a repair from the council? How long did you have to wait? Was it done to a decent standard?

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Following our own walkabout, we reported 11 communal repairs on the Rockingham Estate in one day. We believe our council, and their contractors, are failing to keep our homes safe and secure.

Chaucer Green candidate, John Tyson, says, “As a resident of 6 years on the Rockingham, I know first hand the terrible repairs service we have: weeks and months to get repairs done, poor quality, lack of follow up. As councillor, I’d ensure there was a thorough review, particularly focused on finding failing contractors, and reducing wait times.”

John wrote the petition with the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations that kept the telephone repair line free to call.

So many residents in our communities are making a positive difference, and we’re working hard to support them. The voluntary sector adds an estimated £50bn to the UK economy a year, while unpaid carers save £60bn. We really value all that, and think you’re amazing.

John_Tyson.jpgJohn Tyson, the Green Party candidate for Chaucer Ward says: ‘So many in our community volunteer their time, through local groups, but also as parents and carers. We need to recognise, support and champion them.’

  • We’ve been helping Rocking Village plant new flower beds on Rockingham Street – reviving plant diversity and improving air quality.
  • We’ve been involved with consultations on Harper Road cycle safety and reducing traffic, working with Friends of Harper Road Triangle.
  • Green activist John Tyson is an active member of Tabard Growers, a community gardening project working with residents across Tabard Estate.

Latest news and views on Elephant & Castle regeneration


Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry has written to Sadiq Khan about the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and London College of Communication. She draws the Mayor's attention to serious failings in the developer's plan, including the lack of affordable housing, the loss of space for small businesses and the loss of affordable cultural and leisure space - and the serious implications for protected groups of each of these failings. These failings have been raised by local residents in campaigning and through the planning process.

She writes:

I urge you to take over the application and act as the Local Planning Authority. There is a very strong case for considering this scheme as a strategic and important development with London-wide significance on a number of grounds.
These include issues with compliance with affordable housing policies (where you have recently called in or directed refusal on a number of other schemes to ensure compliance) and also, the fact that the current shopping centre and surrounding places have a London-wide importance for the Latin community, as shown by compelling evidence provided by the Latin Elephant initiative.

Alternatively, your Stage 2 decision could also be to direct the Local Planning Authority, Southwark Council, to refuse the application due to a number of failings, including:

1. The application is not compliant with London Plan or Local Development Plan policies for affordable housing in either the number of homes or tenure split. In addition, the assumption that the scheme would receive over £11 million in GLA housing grant, which was added to the latest viability estimates, appears only to have served to increase the developer’s profit not the provision of affordable homes. The grant itself also has a number of hurdles still to clear before it is confirmed, as shown by the attached letter of clarification sent to me by David Lunts from the GLA.

2. The loss of space for small businesses, broken obligations for the use of the market square and other space nearby as replacement space, and the inadequacy of proposed relocation funds.


3. The loss of affordable cultural and leisure space, which particularly now provides for a number of protected groups including the Latin and other BAME communities, young people and older Londoners.

We are very grateful to Sian for taking up the cause of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre with the Mayor and for the Green Assembly members' long-standing support of grassroots community groups campaigning for a diverse, inclusive Elephant.

 

Below: Greens Shahrar Ali, Sian Berry, Rashid Nix, Liba Hoskin and Caroline Russell on a trip to meet members of the Latin American business community and Elephant Action Network in April 2016.

 

Southwark Green Party pay tribute to the many campaign groups and individuals who have managed to get important concessions in the Elephant & Castle development plan. Residents, traders, students, housing activists and support groups have worked tirelessly and deserve everyone’s thanks.


However, the concessions did not include suitable protections for existing traders, nor is there enough truly affordable housing. As such, we were dismayed to see it voted through.

We firmly believe that those who voted in favour have not paid 'due regard' to the equality impact. The Latin American community, who have made the Elephant a vibrant, welcoming home, will be massively affected. Many small business owners fear they will never recover.

The loss of the Coronet, which brings huge diversity of music to the area, and the inadequate plans to temporarily rehome the bingo hall and bowling alley will contribute to the social cleansing of our BAME communities and loss of facilities for older people.


We will be supporting any legal effort made to address these equality concerns, and urge the Mayor to use his powers to improve both the amount of social housing and the mix of affordable housing. 35%, with at least half social, should be a minimum standard, not a maximum.

Finally, in light of Islington Council successful legal challenge on viability, we call for a wholesale change of approach within Southwark Council to the issue of viability. Developers can no longer claim that a scheme is 'unviable' when they have overpaid for land. There needs to be a clear statement – if your current plan can not provide policy compliant housing, then you need a better plan.


The fight for a fair deal for traders and residents will continue, and we will be standing alongside all those who work to achieve this.

 

Following ongoing community pressure, the planning application to demolish Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and London College of Communication will now not be reconsidered by councillors until after the local election on 3rd May.

Southwark Labour pushed through the previous controversial demolition of the Heygate Estate two months after winning a council election.

Latin American community newspaper editor Lina Usma said:

"Before the application we hadn't seen local councillors for 2-3 years"

Diverse small traders facing displacement in Elephant & Castle regeneration are already having their livelihoods damaged by Southwark Council indifference. The Latin American community hub remains particularly at risk without proper guarantees. 

Adriana Hoyos Rojas representing local traders at Southwark's Planning CommitteeElephant Artworks boxpark will be closing down by the end of this year to make way for new flats. Developers Delancey are offering a 'new' boxpark as replacement temporary accommodation for displaced Shopping Centre businesses. Yet Elephant-based lawyer Adriana Hoyos Rojas, Latin community rep in the Elephant traders' deputation, said: "We first heard about this on social media. We've not been told the cost, quantity or duration of units in the 'new' boxpark. Traders have no information about notice to vacate. Legal advice offered to traders is not independent.

In December, property developers Delancey put in an application to demolish Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and London College of Communication. Councillors on Southwark Council’s Planning Committee refused to approve the plan, yet accommodated an eleventh-hour promise from Delancey to make an improved offer. This means the committee will hear the proposal again this month.

Shopping Centre doors closed during trading hours

Meanwhile, the Shopping Centre is being run down, conveniently bolstering the claimed 'need' for demolition. Certain entrances are now being closed during trading hours (right). Empty units are no longer available for re-let, enhancing a 'ghost town' feel. Escalators have been left broken for long periods. Pedestrian access has been unsatisfactory since removal of subways. Yet the building is structurally sound and could be imaginatively refurbished, re-landscaped and re-clad. This would avoid nine years of environmental destruction, intense construction noise, degraded local shopping and leisure facilities, and enormous disruption to nearby residents' home delivery access.

Chaucer Green News

Local Green Party volunteers have hand-delivered copies of our printed newsletter Chaucer Green News to thousands of local letterboxes. You can download issues of Chaucer Green News as PDF files here:

Elephant & Castle neighbourhood candidates

Chaucer ward candidates

The Green Party candidates for Chaucer ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Winnie Baffoe, Phil Vabulas and Rebecca Warren.

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Winnie Baffoe writes: "I am wife to Peter, mother to three delightful children. I attended Robert Browning primary school and St Saviour’s and St Olave’s secondary school. I am a community organiser for Mummies Republic (for Mummies by Mummies). Our work responds to central and local government legislation which is detached from reality and human need, particularly for our most vulnerable. If it is true that the home is where the heart is, then existing social policies have ignored our life source. Home life is a struggle where there is food poverty, home life is stifling where there is overcrowding, home life can be dangerous to health where repairs are stalled by bureaucracy. A home becomes burdensome when rents are unaffordable. Home is where our children should return without concerns about violence on the streets. In extension it is destructive for victims of domestic abuse to be the ones leaving the home. We have skirted around critical issues concerning the home in our regeneration aspirations.  We must hold our governments to account as they have a duty of care to our wellbeing."

Phil_Vabulas

Phil Vabulas is co-chair of Southwark Green Party. A long-time campaigner on national and international issues with Amnesty and Liberty, Phil was brought into local politics when he heard about the shameful treatment of Heygate and Aylesbury residents. Since then he has supported campaigns on housing, helped prevent a homeless charity from being evicted and assisted Southwark residents with complaints about councillor behaviour. Phil works as an Educational Data Analyst, and has previously been an accountant for charities and schools. This has given him a forensic eye for detail, along with a mind for innovative solutions to problems - skills that are sorely lacking amongst current councillors. A passionate campaigner for feminism, BME and trans rights, Phil promises to ensure all council policies are designed in a way that benefits all people. Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg.png

Rebecca Warren is an active Hounslow Green Party member who has worked in the public sector in Southwark since 2003. She supports Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth, and wants Southwark Council to improve education, fight NHS cuts and improve the lives of Southwark residents.

St George's ward candidate

The Green Party candidate for St George's ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 is Ian Pocock.

Ian Pocock

Ian Pocock is a long term resident of Southwark. He is the local contact for the London group of Campaign Against Arms Trade and with the group carries out a range of actions against the arms trade in our city. He also works for a locally based charity. He likes to attend gigs and theatre shows.

 

 


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