Along with over 400 Londoners, community groups and businesses, Southwark Green Party has signed a letter initiated by campaigning group Mums for Lungs to unite local councils in the fight for clean air.
Just 8 days after the Council elections, British Land submitted its planning application for the Canada Water Masterplan – handily ensuring there was no opportunity to debate it during the election campaign.
Only three sites are set out in detail. Yet as the developer has submitted a “hybrid” planning application, British Land will not require any further planning applications provided they stay within these (very broad) outline plans.
Southwark Green Party has repeatedly raised serious concerns over the Canada Water Masterplan proposals, which have not been addressed. We are now supporting the wider community campaign opposing the planning application.
See our detailed feedback, and email response template:Read more
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.
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.
Build more council housing - not unaffordable luxury flats
Temporary tenants need to be able to obtain secure tenancies rather than being shuffled about from one address to another, and so relieving Southwark Council from providing secure tenancies. Secure tenants need to be able to retain their secure tenancies, rather than losing them by being forced to change to a housing association lease.
Leaseholders demand like-for-like replacements for their flats, in the local area – so they can remain with their community, and have no increase in commute to work. They reject any invasion of their privacy with financial assessments, and financial restrictions like the £16k rule. They demand the right to transfer any mortgages at the same repayment level. They should be able to pass on their homes to their children, make alterations, and let out the property if they so wish.Read more
Left out in the cold by Southwark Council
Homes on the D’Eynsford Estate in Camberwell were left without any heating for days in freezing weather earlier this year. What really upset residents was that no one answered the emergency helpline at Southwark Council. One resident reported that it was only when they took to Twitter that they got a response from councillors - and then from Southwark Council. A heater was produced for them - but nothing for those who weren't so active on social media. The council demonstrated little care for the many elderly people living on the D'Eynsford on their own.
Reassurance, information about the repair schedule, and practical action like the loan of a portable heater is the minimum tenants should expect. The council’s communication with Southwark residents must improve.Read more
Why do councillors ignore residents' views?
Last year, Southwark Council ran a consultation on its proposed 'Southwark Spine' cycle route. Local people and road safety experts said the designs would make cycling more dangerous, especially around Bellenden Road. In fact, 63% of people who replied opposed it.
But just before the election was called, one of the Labour councillors for this area, Ian Wingfield, signed off the scheme.
Eleanor Margolies says: "This makes a mockery of the idea of consultation. The Southwark Spine was meant to make cycling safe for all ages, from 8-80. Hundreds of people took the time to write in with their concerns. I can’t believe Cllr Wingfield has ignored us all. I will listen to residents and fight for a better scheme that reduces motor traffic and is safer for everyone."
Nearly 20% of Southwark’s 63 councillors work as lobbyists, found 2013 research by journalist Anna Minton.
One of these is East Walworth Labour councillor Rebecca Lury, who works as a managing director for public relations (PR) firm GK Strategy. Her firm has a specialism in advising development corporations seeking contentious planning permission from local councils. Councillor Lury volunteered support for planning permission for Trafalgar Place (Elephant Park phase 1) with social housing quotas slashed in favour of fat profits.
Two former leaders of Southwark Council, Jeremy Fraser (Labour) and Nick Stanton (Lib Dem) went on to similar lobbying/PR careers. Independent local campaign group The 35% Campaign has collated numerous similar examples at 35percent.org/revolving-doors.
Private Eye magazine reported that many companies have wined and dined Peter John, current Labour leader of Southwark Council. Freebies accepted from developers Lend Lease include two £1,600 tickets to the London Olympics opening ceremony, and an expenses-paid trip to Cannes for a property show. Lend Lease are building £2.5m penthouses on the site of the demolished Heygate Estate.Read more
After the 2014 local elections, Southwark's Labour-run council promised they would build 1,500 new council homes by the end of 2018. Now Councillor Mark Williams, lead for regeneration and new homes, has admitted "we will not be meeting this target".
Only 400 new homes will have been built - less than one-third of the local Labour promise. Southwark Labour's 2014 manifesto had promised 11,000 new homes, but it didn't say how long they would need to meet this pledge. It has since emerged that the Labour-dominated Council's official homebuilding targets stretch to the year 2043 - 25 years away from now.Read more
Eleanor Margolies slams council inaction on Camberwell house
A four-bedroom house in Camberwell has been left unoccupied for 20 years.
Local resident Eleanor Margolies said, "In 2002, I contacted Southwark Council about this house. I was told that the council was “in negotiations” with the owner. It's a scandal that the house is still empty and rotting away 15 years later. This is a shocking waste when so many in Southwark are in need of a home."
Local councils can make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of unoccupied buildings. Or they can use an Empty Dwelling Management Order — they have to pay to refurbish the building but keep the rental income afterwards.Read more