This page is almost chronological. We list the changes in the area development by development. However, we do make additions now and again to many of the texts. Keep a close eye out!
METRO CENTRAL HEIGHTS
The first yuppie development was the rejigging of the old DHSS building that looms above the Northern roundabout at the Elephant around 1999. Designed by Erno Goldfinger, this brutal concrete bohemoth is listed to preserve it for the Nation! At the end of the 90′s it was developed as Metro Central Heights, a gated community of first time buyers and more affluent types, the first wave of urban pioneers that came to live in ‘edgy, sexy, vibrant’ Elephant, as it was marketed at the time. You can download the crazy promotional brochure here. You’ll notice how much they go on about how secure it is. Metro Central Heights – 2 bedroom for £325,000 (Jan 2010).
Wikipedia says this:
‘…it was saved from demolition and converted into a residential development and renamed “Metro Central Heights” by St George Plc (a division of Berkeley Group Holdings) in 1997. It was narrowly missed off English Heritage’s roll of post-war buildings worthy of listing around the same time. The conversion cured the sick building syndrome, and added a gym and swimming pool to the complex. It now contains some 400 studio to three-bedroom flats which are in constant demand, especially by “young urban professionals” who value Elephant & Castle’s proximity to the City and West End. For this reason it is often nicknamed “Metrosexual Heights”.
ELEPHANT and WALWORTH:
The first wave of even bigger developments
STRATA TOWER, Elephant & Castle
On top of the demolished Castle House and the old popular Castello’s pizzeria, a 43 storey ‘eco’-tower with 408 homes (30% ‘affordable’) now underway. A 30% share of a one bedroom flat is quoted at £70,000 -Oct 2008. December 2009 – £285,000 for a one bedroom apartment! Or a bit higher up the tower is a one bedroom for £850,000!!! We might cobble our pennies together for the £2,500,000 3 bedroom flat for sale where ‘this luxury development benefits from the peaceful market square‘ although we are wondering which peaceful market square is that then?
It’s a bit of a test case this Strata for the whole E+C regeneration as the flats were sold ‘off-plan’ i.e they weren’t built yet. With the credit crunch around for a foreseable few more years, we wonder if the buyer who has put down a large deposit will be able to complete with the rest of the price when it’s time to cough up. Deposits are not sums of money that you can just chuck away if you now can’t afford the flat. They are legally binding sums that mean you intend to buy. If you paid out £30,000 deposit for a flat that was valued at £250,000 back in the day but now you can’t get anyone to lend you masses of money as a mortgage to cover the rest, you’re a bit screwed. Here’s an interesting case of people buying flats as investments vs a greedy developer.
Anyhow, we’ve been watching the Tower get bigger month by month and have been enjoying the installation of the three big white rails on the top that will house the wind turbines. We were telling a few tourists that this is the new big thrills Strata rollercoaster ride. Or that it was a kind of jogging track like a hamster wheel for residents too afraid to enter the local area OR that it was a treadmill for the social housing residents to generate the leccy for the rest of the tower! Are we bad?
More Elephant as good investment guff in the Financial Times here! And more Strata-stroking here from The Times that begins thus: ‘The pink pachyderm has had its day. There is a new icon at Elephant & Castle, that bit of southeast London known for its dank subways, grimy roundabouts and a shopping centre‘. Not a good factual introduction to the area as the pink Shopping Centre has been red since 1999. Anyhow, when Strata’s finally finished ‘the final four flats on the 41st floor will be released, with prices ranging from £850,000 to £2.5 million‘. We know that penthouses are always placed at the very top to help-out the trickle-down effect of wealth into the area. But surely the taller the building the farther it has to trickle!
Interesting other points made in The Times article are that ‘the great attraction of Strata is the view — yet this is under threat from the regeneration plans, which include several towers…Draper House, a 1960s tower block next door, will not be demolished‘. The irony of buying into the regeneration area only to have some new fangled development block your view in a year or two’s time. There’s been this kind of struggle going on in Long Lane where some of the recent occupiers of the new builds have been campaigning against ever newer new builds on the grounds of density, sunlight and lowering the tone. We call them ‘Gentrifiers Against Gentrification’. Anyhow, despite the inference in the article, Draper House, council tower block won’t be going anywhere soon.
On the financial side, the article reports that ‘Investors, as opposed to owner-occupiers, originally made up 75 per cent of purchasers. However, newly restrictive mortgage conditions mean that some may be unable to complete their purchases. Others will opt to live in their investments. Black estimates that the proportion of investors will fall to about 50 per cent by completion in July’. Interesting to finally see that originally 2/3rds of buyers had no intention of living there anyway and only wanted to ‘invest’ i.e make some money. Any road up, here’s the scenic view from out the window of a 19th floor Strata flat and a look at some of the ‘social’ housing at the bottom, the Esprit apartments!
360 LONDON, Newington Butts
No1 Churchyard Row, Walworth SE17 aka The Rowton House and then the London Park Hotel. This Victorian working mans hostel that sat next to St Mary Newington gardens was demolished in late 2007 to clear the land for the preposed erection of 360-London aka yuppie flats. Almost beautiful (esp. before the original cupolas were removed in the 1970′s), this building added much to the area for those who have lived here a long time.
The above photo adds in a poetic accident for those inclined to such moments.
360-London is another 44 storey tower with 470 residential units (‘affordable’ units now scaled back to 30%). Described by the developers as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the Elephant redevelopment, it’s also described as ‘rising elegantly‘ from the site of the old London Park Hotel. If you click the photos, you can make your one mind up on ‘elegance’.
The whole development was backed by the Government regeneration agency English Partnerships (now renamed Homes and Community Agency) who had bought the site for £18 million with the express intention of developing affordable homes for key workers. It is these units that have taken the biggest hit with 43 keyworker homes knocked out in the new plan. Social housing is marginally increased from 29 to 35 homes. Private homes will now increase from 282 to 319 units. The Council, who sold part of the site to English Partnerships, commented that ‘a lot of money has gone round in a big circle and the net losers will be the people who need help the most. This ‘dreadful irony’, as they put it, will not be lost on regular readers of this page.
Late 2009: BD – The Architect’s Website reports that “Meanwhile a Richard Rogers-designed skyscraper for an adjacent site, the 44-storey 360 London (pictured), also remains stalled due to “challenging market conditions”. A spokesman for developer First Base was unable to give a start date for the residential scheme, which was granted planning permission in September 2007, but said that the developer remained “focused on delivering what we believe to be an exceptionally designed scheme and an extraordinary project”. This is also bad news for Southwark Playhouse who, as part of planning gain, were to open a brand new theatre in the development!
POST-LOCAL ELECTION SPECIAL: MAY 2010
From This Is London: Peter John, the new Labour leader of Southwark Council will meet the developers Lend Lease next week. This is what he said before the election: “The heads of terms which were signed in November with Lend Lease didn’t include a leisure centre, they didn’t include a library, and they didn’t include any of the community facilities we would have expected to have seen. It was an agreement to build houses — and private houses at that. That’s simply not good enough.”
Post-election, the rhetoric has been modified. “I am very much looking forward to meeting with Lend Lease and moving towards an agreement on Elephant & Castle,” said John. Does that mean he will sign an agreement that runs along the lines of that agreed by his Lib-Dem predecessor, Nick Stanton? “It certainly is a possibility,” said his spokesman.
We at Southwark Notes are not holding our breath for the outcome of the Council / LendLease meeting.
3rd May: BBC Radio 4 ‘The World Tonight‘ – Short radio feature of the Elephant ‘regeneration’ featuring opponents from Aylesbury and ex-Heygate and the same old nonsense about Strata tower buyers trickling their wealth into the local community! Listen here
December 2010: These little posters were placed on the hoarding around the site under every window that looks into the empty place. The text seems part inspired from the words we posted above. It reads:
‘This development site was backed by the Government regeneration agency English Partnerships who bought the former London Park Hotel site for £18 million of taxpayers money in 2006. The express intention of English Partnerships hand-out was for the building of ‘affordable’ homes for keyworkers. As a result of what they call ‘challenging market conditions, the 159 ‘intermediate affordable’ units have now been reduced to 116 and the number of private apartments has been increased from 282 to 319. All of this agreed by Southwark Council when the planning permission was renegotiated in 2008. The site lays empty to this day…
REGENERATION RIP-OFF…VIEW HERE‘
It’s worth adding something briefly about the Homes and Communities Agency which was brought into being under the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008. Essentially a merging of the old English Partnerships and The Housing Corporation, it began it’s life in December 2o08 with a mandate to boost the housing economy. Private Eye (Oct 2009 No.1246) writes: ‘Accounts for English Partnerships…posted in July 2009…showed that EP made a £492 million opearating loss in its last eight months and saw 320 million quid wiped off the value of its land bank. ..The housing market saw EP’s sales receipts plummet from a healthy £328 million the previous year to a measly £32.9 million in 2008. It was forced to beg the government for an extra £67m of funding on top of the £64m it had already received…three of EP’s top brass walked away with redunancy payments totalling £277,000.” Regeneration rip-off indeed!
JANUARY 2012: “A competition to select a developer to revive a stalled project to build a 44-storey tower at Elephant & Castle is about to be launched by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority“. See here for new story from InSE1 site.
PRINTWORKS, Amelia St, Walworth
164 flats over 9 storeys (on the site of the old HMSO printing works on Amelia St). The Amelia Street site is a being developed by English Partnerships with First Base (see above!). Under way now – nearly finished January 2010. More ridiculous hype can be found on the website. A flavour can be had here: ‘The Elephant will follow Clerkenwell, Soho and Notting Hill as a place where vibrant new ideas express themselves and become part of what makes London the world’s most dynamic city. It all stems from the principles First Base and their partners Lend Lease are developing in their regeneration proposals to transform the area with around £1.5bn of investment over the next ten years.” Or this ‘New and exotic types of food can be bought alongside delicacies and remedies from London’s oldest health food shop’. We always wonder if they don’t get out much this blurb writers when they use ‘exotic’ to mean either African, Asian or South American local shops. I mean how long has London been a great home to people from all over now?
More bonkers spiel: “This major redevelopment will transform the appearance of Elephant & Castle…Divided into “villages” that reflect the needs and concerns of today, such as eco and ethics, health and wellbeing, food and feasting, lifestyle and furnishing, its stores and stalls will reflect both London’s diversity as well as the varied needs of its individual inhabitants – and beyond that, their aspirations…Here, individuals can choose how they lead their lives and have a stake in their community and neighbourhood. Its design allows them to control how they engage with it, whether they choose to take advantage of its formal or informal educational opportunities, to pamper themselves, relax in its public spaces, or remain in the privacy of their homes‘. What does any of the above mean? Do you know? Quite frankly these people have lost their marbles…or sold them to the highest bidder!!
March 2o11: One bedroom flat in Printworks: £265,000. A sign on the Printworks sales suite now reads 85% sold. The original planning permission was granted on the fact of Printworks being for Keyworkers. Now the developers are trying to use the 15% unsold to the requirement that it houses keyworkers. What a scam! 19 flats remain unsold since the launch in September 2010.
VANTAGE Building, New Kent Rd
Vantage (next to Metro Central Heights), 68 flats of which 20 are Housing Association. Under construction. When the Vantage building was still being built, plenty of flats were put on the open market having been bought as investment buy-to-sells (at profit). A 2 bedroom on the 7th floor was up for £335,000. Another flat on the 4th floor was offered for £339,000 as an ‘opportunity for investment’. So a flat could be bought before it even existed to be sold at profit to a new buyer who would then sell again for another profit (and so on?). In the old days, houses were for living in. Will anyone ever live in these flats or will it just go round and round in some buy/sell cycle? Still, with the credit crunch on, will anyone be profiting from what must have seem like a shrewd investment at the time? All this hyped on the back of the forthcoming E+C regeneration makeover. Yet you can still read the following in another ad for a Vantage up for sale: ‘The property is located close to the Elephant and Castle which is the subject of an innovative regeneration scheme’. No wonder a lot of early new buyers to the area are now complaining about the whole thing. Fascinating insights on the E+C new property markets can be gained from reading posts to the ‘In Se1 Forum’ – See here for Vantage or here for Strata.
OAKMAYNE PLAZA, New Kent Rd
Above we can see the results of the Compulsory Purchase Order that closed the H. R Owen’s car business to make way for the Oakmayne Plaza (at New Kent Rd by The Coronet), a mega-development 250-room student accommodation, five-screen cinema, 312 private residences, restaurants and shops and market square. This project has been up the creek recently. Despite a completion date of early 2011, nothing has been happening on this empty site, apart from some public art (natch!). The Council’s Quarter magazine from Autumn 2007 reports that ‘construction work has started on Oakmayne Plaza‘. Wishful thinking surely! Just so you can imagine what is to come, we include a computer generated image of the cafe society that the Oakmayne Plaza wishes upon us all.
APRIL 2010: All the ‘Coming Soons’, the ‘Think Elephant, Think Oakmayne’ and the architectural CGI’s have been removed. What’s going on?
MAYDAY 2010: Guerrila Gardeners liven up the empty plot with some sunflowers
Summer 2011: Oakmayne Plaza finally back on the go after waiting out the crisis. In the distance you can see the sympathetic new development at Arch St, New Kent Rd. Nice! You can also see Oakmayne’s theft of the footpath on Elephant Rd. Good news for global investors in The Elephant is that Delancey Asset Management Company has teamed up with Oakmayne to push the Plaza site into a whole new dimension. Delancey, specialist in ‘real estate investment‘ boast that it ‘believes our edge is that we think and act like a principal, and we look to deliver higher returns without sacrificing security. Our approach provides the optimal balance between risk and reward and consistently delivers success‘. Prize for the first person to translate this please. Luckily for local residents Delancey’s ‘investment strategies are based on an approach we call knowledgeable opportunism. We look for opportunities that require us to move fast and negotiate hard‘. Our dictionary describes the word ‘opportunism’ as such ‘the conscious policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances, with little regard for principles.’ Surely this can’t be accurate? Press release here OakmayneDelancey Plaza.
This is what this means for local people: “The site has planning consent for 390,000 sq ft net private residential, student, leisure and ancillary commercial uses and will provide 373 high quality one, two and three-bedroom residential apartments and penthouses, all for private sale along with student accommodation, commercial and leisure facilities.
The scheme, with an anticipated completed value in the order of £200 million, will comprise of three towers, rising from 16 to 24 storeys, linked by a triple storey podium. The commercial space in the podium supporting the residential towers will be used for an innovative multi-screen cinema complex, cafes and restaurants, supermarket and dedicated space for local retailers and other leisure uses. The substantial public open space that fronts the scheme will become the new market square with the potential to emulate that of the highly successful Borough Market”.
So how many affordable housing units is that then? No socially rented flats of the kind that London is so desperate for.
Best news of all for locals is that the whole Plaza thing has been dropped and the new development has been branded TRIBECA SQUARE, after one of the most gentrified, expensive and white parts of Manhatten. So, very much like the current Elephant with it’s wide range of destination designer shops, brasseries and cafe terraces and tres chic, tres tres cool places to be seen in like here maybe.
See our long post on Tribeca Square here!!
The secondwave of even bigger developments.
89-93 Newington Causeway / Eileen House / Newington ‘Triangle’
North of The Elephant going up The Borough sees three planned big developments along Newington Causeway. Neobrand want to turn the small and old bank building right by the railway bridge into 20 floors of 26 private and 12 ‘affordable’ flats. Interestingly Neobrand have been unable to find a Housing Association to take on the social housing component due probably to the over-extension of many HA’s in the recent property market. This is quite a big deal in terms of the required provision of local ‘affordable’ housing in new developments, something that has already been watered down recently by the relatively new Boris Johnson regime at City Hall from 50% as standard to about 40% on a development by development basis. Anyhow, Neobrand has said they will manage the social housing initially!
Oakmayne (again!) are going for the 42 storey block on the site of the old SouthBank University offices of Eileen House (opp the Sally Army HQ). They acquired the site in January 2007. A little further up and Hollybrook developers are going for the biggie and planning to demolish the entire area that forms the apex of a triangular site that borders Newington Causeway and Borough Rd. There are a set of buildings there now including the car rental place on the corner and the small businesses along the Causeway including (now closed down) Pedal It, the secondhand bike shop.
Ultimately they plan a 28 storey tower surrounded by lots of other smaller builds of flats, student residences and a hotel (of course!) All of these developments are painted as creating some kind of grand gateway into The Elephant. Having said all that however, there has been a large stalling of the planning permission process for these plans.
The Ministry of Sound nightclub in Gaunt St, behind Eileen House has been opposing the Oakmayne and Hollybrook developments with a fear that new residents will force the 20 year old club to close on noise issues. They recently presented The Council with a 25,000 strong petition against granting planning permission. The planning applications are up before The Council on 11th October 2011.
Update: Southwark Council Planning Committee 11 October 2011 saw the Oakmayne Eileen House appeal score a victory for the Ministry of Sound with the planning committee rejecting Eileen House tower with 5 votes and 1 abstention. MoS presented a counter plan for developing Eileen House. Here.
Neobrand asked for their application to be deferred so new technical information could be considered. This was how it was reported on the InSE1 live blog of the Council Meeting.
• URBAN PIONEERS RIDE INTO TOWN?
New buyers into the posher private housing (like Metro Central Heights), often portrayed as ‘the pioneers’, are sometimes a little bit guilty of making out that they are ‘opening up’ a new part of London as if thousands of people already living in the area have not had their own organic fabric of a community. It seems like the thousands of poor people in poor housing that sits cheek-by-jowl to redevelopment zones are often made invisible in the new shiny plans. This kind of forced invisibility is particularly strong around The Elephant but even stronger around the ridiculous makeover of Bermondsey St into a consumer-driven new playground for the more affluent newcomers. The Telegraph article ‘Property Investment? Time to pack your trunk?’ from November 2007 sums up this mentality – ‘One of London’s unloveliest areas has become its newest hotspot, with investors snapping up off-plan opportunities…ugly old concrete buildings coming down and gleaming new ones going up…’. Estate agent Carl Davenport is quoted ‘The E+C may not look like much now but it is an area on the move which means it’s the right time to invest. Once all the new buildings start to appear it will be too late and buyers will have missed the boat’. Is the ‘regeneration’ of the area then simply a place to invest and profit from an over-inflated housing market or is it a scheme to develop renewal for all of the local population, old and new? First rung flats on the property ladder, Buy-To-Lets, corporate rentals – none of these add anything to the already existing community. In fact, in places they can make it worse as the temporary tenants are often ignorant, arrogant or inconsiderate about the older local inhabitants. This isn’t to say that all newcomers to the area are like this or, in fact, that all the poorer old-timers are angels. It’s just worth pointing out that the ideology of supposed mixed-development often assumes council housing as the bad with the new private houses and new shops as the good. However, people with hardly any money relate to the local area in a totally different way to those who money is often no worry.
None of this denies that where we have lived for a long time isn’t perfect. Far from it, it’s often harsh and sometimes unrelenting but at least it’s somewhere that’s been lived and grown according to the more simple needs of people and not pure individual or corporate profit. Community is not something you can consume, it’s something more common, organic and human than that.
• Monopoly Money Regeneration?
The Elephant and Castle now appears on the expanded edition of the property speculation game Monopoly. As with the famous Old Kent Rd, the Elephant square costs 60 quid. A quick game of the new edition was played on the floor of the shopping centre in Spring 2008 between the then Executive member for regeneration Richard Thomas, Major Projects director Stephan McDonald and two local residents Anne and Jade. It was reported that although proud to be on the map the players would contact the company in a few years time ‘to get the square shifted from the cheapest brown colour to the more up-market green or blue’. Quoted from Quarter #4 Spring /Summer 2008.
Tlön Books, The Shopping Centre and St Modwen
June 2008: Trouble and strife in the Elephant Shopping Centre. Two interesting notices are on the door of TLON, the secondhand bookshop on the ground floor. The first reads ‘SOUTHWARK COUNCIL REGENERATION PLANS – Elephant + Castle Tenants 1965 – 2009 – Hard Working Honest Working Class People Killed Off By Southwark Council‘ bemoaning the shabby treatment and shaky promises made to Shopping Centre businesses by the Council. The other notice is a re-possession of this popular bookshop by St Modwen’s, the owner of the Centre. It’s a tragedy to see Marek’s shop locked up, his entire book stock padlocked inside. The bookshop had already been closed down and the premises re-possessed in January 2007 for a few weeks. Happily, two weeks later, it was open again. At that time, Marek wrote: ‘Basically this is a regeneration problem. In the last 5 years, income has gone down badly, as local offices have closed and flats emptied. The area has become blighted, and the demolitions have commenced. The Council has repeatedly pledged to keep the small businesses in the shopping centre going but done little of substance. In the meantime, most of my costs and especially the rent have gone up or stayed the same. The result is obvious and the same problem faces all the traders in the Centre to some extent. If something is to be done about this then the Council and the landlords need to be persuaded to be more accommodating’.
Oct 2008: The doors are still padlocked but the stock has gone. Interestingly the ‘SOUTHWARK COUNCIL REGENERATION’ posters that were in various shopfronts in the Centre are no longer on display anywhere!
By the way, St Modwen Properties, part owners of the Shopping Centre since 2002 (the other half is owned by Kuwati company Salhia Real Estate), is undergoing its own crisis. The company, which specialises in town centre / shopping centre ‘regeneration’ for both ‘short-term benefits’ and ‘longer-term more significant regeneration’, are finding that value of its property portfolio is being rapidly undermined by a deteriorating UK property market. St Modwen shares have gone down more than 40% in the last year. (Oct 2008). We wonder what sort of knock-on this will have to smaller local traders still gritting their teeth and hanging on in The Centre but also what sort of deal they can make on the Shopping Centre during it’s presumed (but no longer definite!) sale and demolition.
May 2009: St Modwen has signed a new five year lease with Urban Space Management who manage the market stalls around the Shopping Centre. That means the centre will not be demolished until at least 2014!!
Feb 2010: Full-year results show St Modwen falling to a £101.7 million post-tax loss, the biggest in its 24-year history. Not being experts in property speculation or the retail business, we wonder what St Modwen’s will eventually decide to do with the shopping centre. It’s obvious that they will want to negotiate something soon with either a new buyer to maximise the sale value of the site at the right moment because it’s needed for the regeneration. Or they will have to work with Lend Lease to sell them the site. Or they could end up being Compulsorily Purchased by the Council. It’s hard to know if the Centre is just a good profitable retail site for St Modwen’s or just another land speculation hoping to get a good deal as the land is key to fulfilling the regeneration plans of LendLease and The Council. Can anyone enlighten us on this?
MARCH 2010: Council leader Nick Stanton assured February’s Walworth Community Council that not much would be happening at the Elephant that would need community consultation until after the local election. The next day the Council Executive received a report that showed that nonetheless Southwark and developers Lendlease are not letting the Elephant grass grow under their feet. Lendlease and Southwark have a ‘joint approach‘, a ‘joint office‘, ‘an agreed joint action plan‘. Out of all this joining has come 2 project teams to oversee demolition works, including asbestos removel and ‘tree retention‘, and ‘leisure options‘. Phase 1 of the demolition is imminent and will take 6 months.
On the legal front, the non-binding Heads of Terms are to be followed by a Regeneration Agreement – it’s very complicated, so Southwark have got some consultants to help them with it. A new exclusivity agreement has been signed with Lendlease, but it’s an open relationship – Southwark can still talk to St Modwen, the inconvenient third party who own the shopping centre. A seperate Planning Performance Agreement is to be finalised in the next few weeks – this will the battleplan for planning applications to the planning authority, that is, Southwark Council.
In the meantime the Council have agreed that compulsory purchase orders can now be used to clear the site of the remaining Heygate leaseholders – 27 residential,10 commercial. According to officers it is ‘getting harder and harder to move forward with the remaining residential leaseholders‘ and the stick of the law is thus required. On the other hand the removal of 973 tenants, against their will and into 973 council homes that could have relieved the housing waiting list, is regarded as ‘excellent progress‘.
The Early Housing Sites that should have rehoused those tenants are slowly arriving – St George’s Rd, New Kent Rd and Newington South are underway – 170 homes (121 social rented, 15 intermediate, 34 private); Townsend St and Brandon St (43 social rented) are about to begin and Southwark are optimistic about Library St (20 social rented, 18 intermediate). When the remaining 800 or so replacement homes will be built, or indeed where, remains a mystery.
Yet another review by yet another consultantancy is to be made of TfL’s infrastructure plans – work on the southern roundabout is due to begin this month,completion by Oct 2010.
Southwark are still looking for somewhere to put the new leisure centre.
More Nick Stanton:
You can get a kind of sense of where our Council Leader is coming from in terms of the massive poverty in the Borough by watching this video of his recent performance of his pet speech about how ‘emblematic‘ big developments like the Tate Modern and The Shard will bring about wealth for all in Southwark. The words ‘cavalier’, ‘rose-tinted‘ and ‘humbug‘ sprang into our minds as we listened to the tale (once again) that property development brings in wealth to the area that presumably somehow finds it’s way into our pockets.
More on LEND LEASE
Lend Lease is the development corporation building the giant £1 billion Olympic Village complex in Stratford. In October 2008. In October 2008, Lend Lease admitted that it could ‘no longer finance the scheme’ and it was possible that the Government could step in to bail it out from taxpayers money instead of the much-heralded privately funded intiative profit scam that it always was. Lend Lease’s net income fell 47% last year with the company writing down it’s UK assets for the third year in a row. It’s obviously seriously overstretched. In December 2009, they were placed on a Negative Credit rating by Standard & Poor, the international credit ratings agency to be reviewed in March 2010.
Lend Lease‘s Team Vision for our area includes the following: ‘Elephant & Castle is both literally and metaphorically on the fringe. We like this. Things outside the ordinary happen here’. Can anyone translate this for us please?
CREDIT CRUNCHING TIMES
In these credit crunching times – will the regenerative programme follow it’s time-table? So far, the promised demolition of the unpopular E+C subways by early 2008 is well overdue. It’s interesting that, as before with the first failed E+C scheme, all the new developments still use the line ‘situated in the Elephant & Castle £1.5 billion regeneration area’ to entice newcomers to a promised up and coming area.
The 360-London tower block (that’s waiting to be built on the old London Park Hotel site) has already seen developers First Base being given permission by the Council to reduce it’s commitment to including affordable homes to keep the scheme ‘viable’. First to go were the ‘range of flats earmarked for keyworkers’ that the Council’s Quarter magazine had boasted about in Spring 2007.
Larnaca Works, a development in the Bermondsey Spa ‘regeneration’ area has been granted £4 million pounds of tax payers money to get this ‘stalled’ project back on track. A Government Minister said ‘Thanks to millions of pounds of Government cash, housebuilders are again creating jobs and helping to tackle the shortage of affordable homes‘. He didn’t mention that the developers has already re-negotiated with the Council for a reduction in the amount of affordable housing in 2008! That’s what we call a ‘rip-off!’.
HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS and AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
It’s worth pointing out that Rd in the last three years Housing Association new builds have opened at Watling House, New Kent Rd, and nearby on Munton Rd. In Townsend St, Tower Homes built two apartment blocks for keyworkers. Although welcome as attempts to build more social housing locally, these still fall into a contradictory non-profit status of H.A’s or the grey area of whether Part-Buy and ‘keyworker’ deals are genuinely affordable or welcome as ways of increasing cheaper housing for all.
A magazine we picked up in Morrisons called HomeFocus, which seems to be all about selling the good news of Part-Buy/Part Rent does give the game away a little. In a section of Facts and FAQ’s on Low Cost Home Ownership, you can read this:
“Do you still need to earn a lot?
Not necessarily: An average salary should be enough. In 2008/09 nearly a quarter of people who bought through shared ownership had a household income of less than £20,000. If you live in an expensive area, like London, you will need to earn more”.
So that’s saying that 75% of buyers outside London earned more than £20,000 a year before they could even start the Low Cost Home Ownership option. If you lived in London, then you need to earn more than £20,000. How many local Southwark residents earn more than £20,000?
Muro Court on Borough Rd is a London & Quadrant HA scheme for shared ownership. A 25% share on a one-bedroom apartment valued at £275,000 will cost you £68,000. That means you will need a household income of at least £30,000 to even get a look-in.
Politically, under both the Tories and Labour, Housing Association’s have been manoeuvred into becoming, more or less, the only possible builders of social housing in Britain. No longer would national and local government maintain a social house building programme. It was simply now up to the H.A’s and, just like every other business who seemed to think it was a great idea to invest in the financial markets, many Housing Associations have also been following this path. Not only that but many smaller Associations ended up merging into mega-Associations that, as a parallel to their investment programmes, now describe themselves as ‘private developers’. For many, the current financial crisis has been a disaster for them. With investments in dodgy financial schemes (such as H.A’s who lost loads of money in the Iceland meltdown) and increasing land speculation reliant on a massively over-inflated house price bubble, the current dry-up of mega-mortgages and falling land values means that some Housing Associations have gone bust and many others are now in severe crisis. It’s worth mentioning again that Neobrand, the proposed developers of a buildings on Newington have been unable to find a H.A to commit to the social housing portion of the new build. Where does that leave the notion that sainted private/public partnerships will be the providers of affordable housing?
St Mary Newington park right by the Elephant was one place of desolate semi-tranquility where there was nothing but roses, trees and grass. It was nothing special but was strangely special. The Council reckons it attracted ‘anti-social behaviour’. All we saw were dog walkers, picnicing locals, frisbee players and psychogeographers all seeming to be enjoying this pagan land quite so socially.
After a grant from the London Development Agency, the former open-space has been rejigged into something a bit more colourful. There’s a nice kids play area but some awful orange belisha beacons and b+w stone balls on the grass area. Enjoyment of the space seems more or less no different from before. Community wardens still go there and take notes on anti-social behaviour.
Sept 2010: The funny concrete balls and grass have now seen better days
26 million quid and 25% AFFORDABLE HOUSING GIVEAWAY!!
15th October 2010
Whilst the local politicians from Labour and Lib-Dems squabble over the extent of the Great Elephant Rip-Off – see here – it’s galling to see here that ‘Southwark Labour’s cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Fiona Colley, said: “We’re proud we were able to secure a minimum of 25 per cent affordable homes as part of the Elephant regeneration‘. According to an answer received in Parliament by MP Karen Buck in March earlier this year to this question – To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the target is for the provision of affordable housing in each London local authority – Southwark Council’s target is ‘50 per cent. (35 per cent. or 40 per cent. in Central Activities Zone, central London)‘. We wonder why Fiona Colley would be proud to secure exactly half the Council’s own target for provision of affordable housing?
‘Council admits failure in Elephant & Castle’
‘Heygate residents have lost out to a series of cancellations and delays
A flagship housing scheme intended to transform the lives of some of London’s most deprived families by tapping into the skills of up-and-coming architects has “failed” in its key objective, it was claimed this week.‘
Read this story here. Surely this justifies our every use of the word ‘scandal‘ that we have used to describe the decant of Heygate and the ever decreasing ‘early day housing sites’. So much for the promise that Heygate tenants would be offered a place to return too.
30th November 2010: HELLO STRATA, GOODBYE ELEPHANT
For us fogies here at Southwark Notes, we are saddened by the loss of the little clock monument outside Draper House where the sunken terrace was. It was just one of many little things we liked about the area because it looked nice and because it referred to Clock Place, a very old street nearby that’s very nearly lost and also to the old Clock Tower that used to stand in St Mary Newington open-space. Now it’s gone the way of all things: destroyed and renovated with some Strata planning gain money. That’s money the developer chucks into the community for certain local projects. The cost of the renovation around the base of Strata and outside the Draper House shops was £900,000.
Instead of getting something equally as full of character, we now have two dull slabs of grass instead. Is this really what a regenerated area should look like? Is this really what Strata residents want their area to look like? It looks like a shiny but soul-less architect’s drawing for the public spaces in new developments. Regular readers will know how much we like the daft public spaces at Empire Square in The Boro or on Webber Row by the new Vergel restaurant!!
You can read about the mysterious Clock Place, clock monument and other weird and wonderful local history in ’9 Things That Aren’t There’ here.
Recent News From The Elephant JUNE 12th 2011:
It’s all go at the Elephant and Castle again. It’s like the credit crunch never happened. Oakmayne Plaza site at Elephant Rd / New Kent Rd has seen the works spill over onto the football pitches which have now been sealed off behind a new Oakmayne works compound. We spotted quite a nice sticker attached to the new blue fence in various places.
The expectations around the demolition of the Shopping Centre have been dashed on the rocks around HMS Regeneration. Instead of knocking it down, it will now be refurbished and, surprise surprise, it will be also have an additional component of new apartments in one or two new tall blocks. A vision of the newly refurbed Centre appears below:
On the other side of the Rd, the Leisure Centre redevelopment has seen a new twist. The Council is going to be asked next month to approve the sale of part of the leisure centre site to Lend Lease for the development of a 30 story block of flats. The new Leisure Centre will be built but will now not contain any of the popular squash courts as there, er, wont be any space available after the Lend Lease idea! See here! As we have said time and time again, there seems to be no stopping the rampant giveaway to developers. The Elephant Rip-Off continues a pace!
Rockingham St: Completed new build / Arch St completed new build (Sept 2011)
Arch Street rent starts from £954 per month or you can pay £64,250 for a 25% share of a home and then £570 per month rent on top of that. Affordable indeed!