The Court of Appeal has upheld Southwark Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a £2bn redevelopment of an iconic London shopping centre, but more social rented homes will now be delivered than first proposed.
The ‘Up the Elephant’ campaign was launched in opposition to plans by developer Delancey to flatten and redevelop the Elephant & Castle shopping centre in south London and build nearly 1,000 new homes.
Delancey first submitted plans in 2016, which were initially rejected by Southwark Council as they only included 33 homes for social rent.
The developer lodged a new planning application that included 116 social rented homes, which was subsequently approved despite not meeting the council’s policy for social rent homes.
London mayor Sadiq Khan also gave the green light to the plans, citing that 35% of homes will be at social rent or other affordable tenures.
The proposals include 979 build-to-rent homes, with 330 of these classed as “affordable”, with the social rent element among that.
‘Up the Elephant’ campaigners were seeking more homes for social rent on the development and what it called a “fairer deal” for traders displaced by the proposed scheme.
In 2019, the High Court upheld Southwark Council’s approval of the plans and now the Court of Appeal has handed down a judgement ratifying that decision.
Campaigners had argued that the authority’s planning policy required at least 55 more social rented homes to be delivered through the scheme.
Jerry Flynn of Up the Elephant said: “We are naturally disappointed that the court has not found in our favour, but we can be pleased with the victories we have had in our fight with Delancey and Southwark.
“There was zero proper social rented housing to begin with and it is only by the efforts of local people that we have the 116 homes now promised.”
He added: “We will continue to campaign to make sure that we get the promised 116 social rented units and that Southwark does not have to pay for them.”
Helen Dennis, cabinet member for climate emergency and sustainable development at Southwark Council, said: “At Southwark we are committed to ensuring that growth and development works for all, that investment in our communities benefits local people and builds on the borough’s incredible cultural diversity.
“Now that the High Court has given the go-ahead, we look forward to the plans for the Elephant and Castle Shopping centre following this approach.”
It is also understood that the council has provided a £634,000 relocation fund to support the traders on the site.
A spokesperson for Delancey said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has dismissed the challenge to the planning permission for the redevelopment of Elephant and Castle Town Centre on all grounds.
“We have always sought to put the community at the heart of the process and are continuing to engage proactively.
“As a result, we have proposed a number of improvements to the proposals in consultation with the local community since the original consent.
“Demolition works are now well underway and should be completed by the end of the year to enable the new town centre at Elephant and Castle to come forward.”
Southwark is going ahead with a number of large regeneration projects, including a scheme on Old Kent Road that involves plans for 20,000 new homes.
Regeneration projects, particularly in London, have become a political hot potato in recent years.
In 2018 Haringey Council pulled the plug on a £4bn regeneration project, involving plans for around 6,000 new homes, after a change of leadership at the Labour-led council.
Update: at 9.33am 07/06/21
A comment from Delancey was added to the story