Controversial plans for redeveloping Elephant & Castle deferred

Southwark Council’s Planning Committee met on Tuesday night to vote again on the proposals for demolishing and redeveloping the Elephant & Castle shopping centre. The Committee voted to defer the decision to a later date.

The committee had met two weeks earlier, producing a shock decision by voting 4-3 against the proposals as they stand. Both the Liberal Democrat Councillors on the committee opposed, as did two Labour rebels. Two other Labour Councillors as well as the Conservative Councillor on the committee supported the Council leadership, while a fifth Labour Councillor abstained. After the Planning Committee voted against supporting the plans, it was decided that it would resit a fortnight later after the reasons for opposing were officially outlined. This week, the developer Delancey stated that they wanted the decision postponed until March.

The proposals were opposed for several reasons, chief amongst them being the next to no provision of social housing and the lack of guarantees or support for the existing companies and traders currently at the Elephant. Only 33 out of 979 of the proposed new homes are at social rent levels, and the proposals explicitly stated that they decided against offering any guarantees to existing local traders, as it might deter national and international chain stores.

At the meeting, the Planning Committee voted to postpone the decision, giving the developer Delancey time to form an improved offer that will be acceptable to the committee.

David Noakes, a Liberal Democrat Councillor for the local area said:

‘We want to see the Elephant & Castle redeveloped. We are however pleased that the plans as they currently stand have not been passed and will be reconsidered. The application failed to deliver sufficient social rented homes or provide sufficient guarantees for the existing independent traders and the bingo hall, which is visited by so many older and BME residents. We only get one chance to get regeneration right at the Elephant and Castle and it is important that it delivers not just for new residents but also delivers for existing residents and independent businesses, and ensures that regeneration works for all our communities.”