Keys Now for Aylesbury Residents Trapped Behind Regeneration Fences

Hopefully you know by now that the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth is being ‘regenerated’ by Southwark Council. It’s a very big deal because the Aylesbury’s 2700 flats are currently home to an estimated 7500 residents. The plan is to demolish the existing estate and, in partnership with mega-Housing Association Notting Hill Housing (NHH), to build nearly 4000 new homes. In reality (just like Heygate Estateregeneration’ before) the regeneration and demolition of the Estate will result in thousands being displaced not only from their current homes but also from the local area all altogether.

creation trust displacement map 2017

Nearly 400 households were decanted in Phase 2 and only 34% of them were able to find existing council homes in the local area. Aylesbury Estate council tenants have limited rights to return to the area and none will be returning as council tenants to any of the new homes being built. Council stats show that decanted tenants are moving to existing council homes right across the Borough. Some of those people might choose to return to the area to the NHH new homes but under what conditions – higher rents, less secure tenancies? We don’t see that this is a particular beneficial option for 100% of those decanted in the name of ‘regenerating‘ their estate.

A percentage of ‘affordable homes‘ will be built on site, 50% closer to cheap council rents and 50% shared ownership homes. We don’t need to rehearse the arguments about the latter being entirely un-affordable to local people. Whether the social housing units provided by Notting Hill Housing will be close to existing council rents or more likely be the NHH-preferred ‘affordable rent’, well, we aren’t holding our breath. ‘Affordable rent’ means such rents being charged up to 80% of local private rents which, of course as the local area gentrifies faster and faster, means such ‘affordable rents’ are rocketing year by year.

 

FENCED IN – ‘TO MAKE US SAFE OR TO MAKE US INTIMIDATED’?

Unlike the Heygate, the demolition of the Aylesbury has been taking place in phases. L&Q Housing Association in partnership with the Council had already demolished the Wolverton blocks at East St and ‘regenerated’ them – 147 new homes, 49 of them affordable rent at 50% of local private rents. The next phases though are all Notting Hill Housing with the First Development Site (FDS) comprising of four Aylesbury blocks, two high towers and two low rise ones. The Council’s own timeline indicated that demolition would take place in summer 2015 with the first new homes available in autumn 2017. Things have however gone very differently. The Council failed to gain possession of all the flats in the area of the FDS. Leaseholders who own their homes on Aylesbury have been facing a nightmare. Faced with the Compulsory Purchase of their homes, the compensation they have been offered by the Council does not enable them to buy anything equivalent locally. And so our tale begins.

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One Aylesbury Estate resident has lived in her home for 27 years and loves it. She is maintaining an amazingly strong and dignified fight to receive adequate compensation to stay local to the area she also loves. But of course it’s not easy to stand firm and the fight comes with tons of stress and aggravation.

In November 2014, Leaseholders in the FDS had a meeting with the Council to discuss security issues around the emptied out blocks and how they might deal with safety and anti-social issues. In January 2015 housing campaigners occupied the empty Chartridge low-rise and maintained a successful protest against the social cleansing of this regeneration programme for a couple of months. This was the Council’s worse nightmare as it brought a ton of publicity to the many arguments for refurbishing and saving the Aylesbury.

It was during this occupation and definitely in response to it, that the Council suddenly began fencing in the blocks in the First Development Site. Southwark claimed that the fencing in was needed for the ‘safety of residents’ because of the protests. The resident told us in February 2015 as we looked down from her flat: ‘As you can see downstairs, they are boarding us up. They are boarding up the circumference of the building. I don’t know whether that is to make us safe or to make us feel intimidated. Because this really shouldn’t be taking place until after they have sought possession”.

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By March 2015, the fencing in of the site was completed at a cost of £140,000. On March 11th the Council wrote to remaining residents now living behind the fence telling them that in two days time:

‘Access to these blocks will be via the pedestrian and vehicular gate in Westmoreland Rd. The entrance is for use by all residents, visitors, deliveries etc and once operational your only means of entrance to your home will be via these gates. This entrance will have 24 hour security personnel presence in position to ensure that your access to the estate is not impeded’.

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And so began the life behind the fence where leaving your house forces you to walk a whole lot further each time to access the one gate and where you don’t know how long it will take to get back in again.

 

ENOUGH MISERY! FENCES MUST GO!

It was with local support and outrage at what people were called the ‘Alcatraz fence’ and the ‘Berlin Wall’ that the new fence became its own infamous image of what everyday violence regeneration happily dumps on people’s heads. It seems so entirely symbolic in the sense of the Council’s urgent desire to get residents off the estate that they could leave through the gates using the door handle but couldn’t get back in without having to ask! You can go and please don’t come back!

 

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The fence became a perfect site for slogans and posters in both chalk and paint against the regeneration of the Aylesbury. There was even a protest on 2nd April where 300 people marched around the fence and parts of the crowd pulled down three large sections of the fence in anger. But, as we wrote at the time, as good as that direct action was, the struggle against social cleansing continues every day in small and minute moments of organising against it. The day after the fence was pulled it was rebuilt and remains almost two and a bit years later both the impediment to normal life that it is for residents and the material reality of how awfully the Council can treat people in the name of the local benefits for all from regeneration.

The Aylesbury resident later reflected on this with us once more:
‘A few weeks later we were still walking throughout the estate with just the fencing up, they hadn’t put any gates in. Then, all of a sudden, one day I saw them putting gates in. Maybe about three weeks after they started to put the fencing up they started putting these gates still thought well, they are putting gates in clearly they are going to be giving us keys to access to come and go cause we live here, this is our home. And then all of a sudden we was told we couldn’t access the building at certain points and after 27 years of coming in the estate whenever I wanted to at whichever point I wanted to, if I came in on Albany road, her, obviously that’s the nearest bus stop to me, with shopping and stuff which makes it easier, more accessible’.

They have many tales of not being able to get into the Estate, waiting for security guards, being stuck outside late at night etc. This has been an entirely unnecessary regime imposed upon the residents. Postal services have been a constant battle to maintain delivery of vital letters as well as general disrepair in the blocks. In March 2016, the main lights in the blocks were broken for four weeks leaving the residents in darkness in the public areas. In December 2016 they were trapped in the lift for an hour when it broke down. The lift has broken down due to a water leak that they had reported a month before to the Council.

 

TWO YEARS LATER: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The need for a secure fence is not controversial. It’s normal practice for guarding development sites and having one is not the argument we are making. What FDS residents have been asking for for ages now is easier access such as the gate having a lock and key, a numerical keypad and code or a swipe card lock. None of these things are costly or difficult to install and would give residents the autonomy they should have had from day one to come and go on their own terms. In March 2015, Mark Williams, Southwark Cabinet Member for Regeneration told South London Press: ‘We will continue to review these arrangements to make sure they work for the residents and that we respond to any feedback we receive‘. These ‘arrangements‘ have clearly not worked for residents since day one so what’s the point of continuing to make residents suffer in this way?

A Freedom of Information request to Southwark Council about the costs of the fence so far revealed the following:

Q1) What has been the total cost from March 2015 to present day that the Council has paid to
the security company who guards the fence. Information up to the last paid invoice or date is
acceptable?

A1) £705,000 

Q2) Can you send a monetary figure that is a estimation of how much is currently being spent by
the Council per month for the security company. eg over the last six months.

A2) £24,000

Being forced to lived behind the fence because you are unwilling to move out of the area and are demanding proper compensation for you home becomes somewhat spiteful when the Council has spent close to £900,000+ so far on this over the top security.

With the current demolition of the Bradenham, Arklow, Chartridge blocks happening under residents noses within the First Development Site, we are asking of the Council that residents are now given some form of self-managed entry and exit from their homes. The next round of the Public Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase of leaseholders homes is not until October so it’s time now for the Council to sort this for residents!

We don’t believe the security regime is mostly about security. We believe this disgusting treatment of residents who are putting up a fight for housing justice is entirely because of that fight. We agree with residents – this is just intimidation and an attempted war of attrition. Enough is enough.

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KEYS FOR RESIDENTS – WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Keys for residents and the other residents now:

If you support this demand, please spread this article far and wide via your social networks and social media (#keysforResidents)

Please contact the following Councillors with your respectful demand for keys for Aylesbury FDS residents:

Peter John, Leader of The Council: peter.john@southwark.gov.uk / @peterjohn6

Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Housing: stephanie.cryan@southwark.gov.uk / @steviecryan

Mark Williams, Cabinet Member for Regeneration: mark.williams@southwark.gov.uk / @markwilliams84

Creation Trust is a ‘charity dedicated to residents on the Aylesbury estate and ensuring they receive the benefits of the regeneration of the area’.

Charlotte Benstead, Chief Executive of Creation Trust: charlotte@creationtrust.org / @creationSE17

The Luxury of Not Being Burned To Death

“Utopia lies at the horizon. When I draw nearer by two steps, it retreats two steps. If I proceed ten steps forward, it swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? It is to cause us to advance.”

Eduardo Galeano

 

This has been the longest week ever for many. The agony of the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire continues. So many lives lost and so many people still unaccounted for. We are all still in mourning.

In the streets below the burned Grenfell Tower this afternoon, everyone’s saying where was the emergency response from Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea? Few council officers have been seen in the multiple help centres local people have run or chatting to people by the flowers, memorials and ‘Missing’ posters. Instead they lock themselves behind closed doors in the Town Hall and wonder why people tried to get in to demand answers.

Yet from a tragedy that had been so desperately predicted by residents in Grenfell Tower for many years, comes a sense that little can be the same again. Listening today at the perimeter to the charred tower to the angry voices from that community has been both sobering and inspiring. It’s been such a long time since working class voices and in particular black working class voices have been heard so loud.  It’s amazing. It’s fresh fucking air finally. We can breathe once more.

We have no particular faith in the mass media to represent those voices. There have been so many instances this week where journalists or reporters cannot simply just let people speak what’s on the mind. But we don’t need balance or to be calm right now. People have been rightly saying from Day One – you can’t depoliticise this! Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or whatever else spreads the word, there has been a massive highly sussed community response to the criminal business at hand.

 

The Fire In Which We Burn

We are still making sense of this crime in the City that we love and that is being destroyed and socially cleansed faster and faster. Every day we come across new injustices, new indignities, new outrages. Many, like this one, have been committed in the name of regeneration, a process steeped in everyday violence against us.  Regeneration has long been publicly unmasked as a massive act of social engineering where profit is the central machine that drives us out. Homes become investments. People get ‘decanted‘. People get Compulsorily Purchased. No longer are we welcome in the communities we have all had a hand in growing. Our communities are airbrushed away in architect’s plans. The other side of the story is disinvestment, our estates breaking down from a planned lack of care and funds. We are stigmatised here there and everywhere. We are told we are shit. We often live in shit – mould, damp, overcrowding. We are felt to be surplus to the remaking of the City as one massive cash machine that dispenses profit making unaffordable homes be they luxury towers or shared ownership apartment blocks. And if much needed refurbishment is done, the imperative of covering and making housing pretty for the area around it leads to criminal decisions, such as using cheaper flammable cladding.

It’s tragic that the fire, the terror and the deaths at Grenfell Tower have had to be the final potent symbol of all that has been brought down on our heads in the last 30+ years. It’s like everything has been exposed now – the greed behind gentrification and the greed behind cutting corners when maintaining or refurbishing, on materials and fire safety equipment. It’s as everyone has been saying this week – they don’t care about us!  Well, if they don’t care about us then it’s only up to us to come together and overthrow the rotten system at heart.

 

The Problem Is Not Towers, It’s Greedy Bastards!

The liberal chatterers in the press or TV wants us to be silent and wait for ‘the findings‘. The Tory media counter attacks that our anger is ‘a lynch mob‘ and that we should calm down. They want us to be silent and believe what phoney urban planners (like Create Streets) say so that the blame is shifted onto things and technicalities: obsolete buildings, faulty construction, ‘complex’ outsourcing. ‘The problem is tower blocks’ say many, including Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn: “It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down.

By the mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s, he doesn’t mean the three 42-stories high residential towers of the Barbican, nor the now luxury refurbished Balfron Tower, but those that are still our council estates. Tower blocks do not seem a problem as long as those living in them are not poor, nor as long as millions of profit can be made on – (often) – public land like at Heygate or Aylesbury Estates.

Since 2007 in London have been built at least 20 luxury flat towers taller than 29 floors, 10 of which have over 35 floors. There are tens and tens of high-rise luxury residential towers under construction across the city, 10 of which will be taller than 50 floors.  Not only this, but high rise towers such as the Skyline at Woodberry Down in Hackney (31 floors, 2016) replaced the low and medium rise council housing estate by the same name. So let’s not be fooled: tower blocks are not to be blamed. High-rise living is not to be blamed. The blocking of the two alternative exits of the Grenfell tower is to be blamed, not the height of the building. Bad maintenance and murderous refurbishment are to be blamed, not the 24 floors.

 

Mourning & Organising Together

What heartens us, as always, is when the distant horizon that we walk towards seeking social justice decides every now and again to turn tail and run towards us. This sad and angry week is just that moment. Whatever story they stuck to in defence of their greed or arrogance has dissolved. The story has changed overnight. It’s our story now and it’s rushing up to us as fast as it can. It’s often dizzying to keep up with. A fortnight ago, no politician would say ‘occupy, compulsory purchase or requisition’ the empty new posh developments! A fortnight ago on no news TV would could you hear the words ‘working class’ as much as we’ve heard in the last five days. This opening is one entirely of our collective making but one we need to safeguard and keep widening out. The Tory government or the shameful local Labour boroughs burden of holding the story together has burst – the truth is out. As ever it takes our pain and our suffering to move us a few steps towards the horizon.

There are many roads we need to keep open and many horizons we need to chase. No going back to our suffering and humiliation that seemed horribly normalised only two weeks ago. Keep on mourning and organising!

Friday 16th June at Grenfell

On Friday 16th June, two days after Grenfell Tower burned, I visited the area in an attempt to find a way to lend some support. Over the two days after the fire, local community centres and faith organisations were inundated with donations sent from all over London and beyond, an incredible and spontaneous expression of solidarity that had resulted in tons and tons of clothes, toiletries, bedding and other items accumulating at collection centres. From the information that came through online it seemed that what was needed on the Friday was a hand in sorting the donations – so a friend and I headed to West London with a list of addresses that were looking for volunteers.

The first few places turned us away because they were full – they already had enough volunteers to help. Then by chance, walking along the Westway, we came across a collection point that still needed volunteers. We spent the afternoon sorting through bags of clothing and separated it out in cardboard boxes by type: women’s trousers, men’s shirts etc. Dozens and dozens of people lined up on the pavement and sorted, sifted and carried for hours on end. Every now and then a van would turn up and take a load of boxes away, to another storage facility.

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Volunteers kept turning up, alone and in little groups, until the area became completely congested. It wasn’t clear whose collection points this was, who was in charge, and who was just there in passing like us. That withstanding, people got organised, asked each other for advice and worked out what to do. A determined and industrious energy pervaded the place, as people focused on their task, talking and sharing, but mostly just getting on with it.

grenfell cate 2

The great majority of volunteers here were women, many very young, many arriving from all over London, and many local to the area. The spontaneous surge of so many people collecting donations and then coming together to help, in the total absence of local and central government, is a testament to the strength, cohesion and community spirit of a grassroots and working class London that cuts across ethnic and faith lines – the great diversity of people involved a reflection of a London miles away from the wealthy enclaves of Kensington borough. Working class, Muslim, brown and black communities that mainstream political discourse and the press vilify and criminalise are organising a grassroots self organised aid effort of unprecedented scale.

 

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After leaving the sorting centre, I headed west along the Westway towards Grenfell Tower. As I drew nearer the determined energy fueling the collection centres quickly gave way to a sombre air of mourning and grief. At Latimer Road people were paying their respects at a memorial site, leaving flowers and candles and leaving messages, crying and talking quietly. So many people out in the street, standing together and staring in disbelief, in eerie, tense silence, in a collective grieving and feeling.  Underneath the grief, a smouldering anger. A crowd had just left the area, headed to Kensington Town Hall.

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The Town Hall is a long walk from Grenfell Tower, but when I finally arrived, having crossed some of the wealthiest streets of the capital, the Territorial Support Group had just kicked the angry crowd out of the building. A group of people remained by the doors, confronting the police, demanding a response from the Council. I saw a school girl pressing the picture of a missing person up to the glass, screaming in frustration, young women in hijabs standing tall blocking the police, and a many more expressing their anger at a local administration that ignored and silencer them for years, and at the police for protecting them.

People kept gathering and then marched, in a crowd of a few thousand, back to Grenfell Tower. The messages from the crowd pointed the fingers at the Tory government, demanding May’s resignation, and demanding justice. They also spoke loud and clear of the solidarity of this swelling movement across racial, ethnic and faith identities. The connections that are being created in the immediate aftermath of the fire will be hard to unmake.

But what is next?  Residents, survivors and local groups are the ones that know what is needed, but it seems important to us a that in the first instance the following demands are met:

– The council must re-house all residents within the Borough in high quality housing

– The land Grenfell Tower stands on cannot be sold off and the Council must reconstruct without loss of any social housing

– Residents living at the foot of the tower must be also re-housed and supported.

These demands require this surging movement to keep fighting and pushing the council and the government for an adequate response. It seems that this organising effort will be really important, and we will continue to follow and support it. We also want to hold and honor the need for quiet grieving, for silence, for privacy and for prayer, as well as the drive from people all over London to help in the ways they can. Anger, organising, quiet mourning and solidarity are all modes that are needed in the response to the fire.

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We burn. They profit!

What happened at Grenfell Tower is a crime, a criminal affair that is now under everyone’s eyes.

The deadly machine of profit-making subcontracting neatly slots into abysmal national fire and building legislation. Add to this waves and waves of budget cuts to reveal once again the overriding logic of cutting corners to make a quick buck on the skin of those who don’t have enough money and resources to fight back. This logic runs deeper and wider than the disaster at Grenfell across all the other tower blocks to embrace the whole edifice of this deeply unjust city.

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The true crime of the Grenfell Tower is the contempt with which council housing residents, here and elsewhere, have been and continue to be treated by those in charge of deciding if they deserve to live in decent, secure homes. Or if they deserve to live, full stop. ‘It’s always the same who die in fires‘, as our French friends in Droit Au Logement (Right to Housing) say.

And these were not voiceless, faceless and fragmented neighbours. They were organised neighbours, they spoke out, they denounced and protested and were ignored, silenced and threatened.

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The anger of people has been articulated forcefully on the streets. And even in sadness and anger, people are speaking out, eloquently, passionately. Their voices and their actions are shaking the grounds of the arrogance and spite of the cowards who pass themselves of as our rulers, or so-called building professionals and consultants, or so-called councillors, administrators or their contemptible Deputy Leaders or Cabinet Members for Housing, Property and Regeneration. Silence and threats must not and will not stop us any more.

The aftermath of Grenfell is a growing tremor, a sustained shout for justice, justice for the victims of this horrific and entirely avoidable disaster, but beyond it, justice for this profoundly unjust city, for the deep wounds of long-term discrimination and contempt, the smugness of the inviolability of those who profit from the death industry of indecent housing.

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And in the absence and silence of any institutional response, solidarity has shown the power of self-organisation, of love, of mutual support.

Those people need homes, and there are hundreds of empty perfectly decent ones left empty for speculation. Public opinion is shifting.

Don’t say it was a terrible disaster, say let’s start today to destroy the edifice of injustice so that it will never happen again.

We are in mourning still, crying still daily but we are angry!

 

 

 

Small and Further Heygate: Demolishing ‘Regeneration’ on Elmington Estate

Elmington Est Diagram New.jpg(Full size PDF of this graphic here)

Small and Further Heygate:
Demolishing ‘Regeneration’ on Elmington Estate, SE5           


346 Council Homes demolished

Seeing as the whole sorry tale of Southwark Council’s 20 year ‘regeneration’ of Elmington Estate is very long, we thought we would make it easier by summarising the most dastardly points in the above picture. Diehards can read the full 6000 words in a separate post here or print out it out as a PDF here. It is worth reading our fully illustrated nuts and bolts telling of the story all the way through as it shows, in detail, once again how long-term regeneration projects premised on demolition are really social cleansing schemes. The decant and re-housing processes are unjust and the Compulsory Purchase Order of leaseholders homes are legally punishing where no crime or wrong doing has been committed by those who were living on Elmington.

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Elmington Estate ‘regeneration’ Phase One demolitions of the Tower Blocks, 2005

The telling of this story is also interesting in that it’s told almost 100% from the Council’s own consultation and progress documents. If the Council’s own telling of their regeneration scheme shows how appalling it is, it’s saying a lot, no? Yet in the same documents they also insist that everything is good and dandy for all! What’s clear once more, just like on Heygate and Aylesbury Estate, is that such ‘regenerations’ always result in a net loss of much needed local council housing – here 346 homes! They always result in the chucking out from the immediate area of long-term council tenants even though the ‘regeneration’ is supposed to benefit precisely them.

Time and time again we see that such ‘regenerations’ always have long histories of tenants saying repeatedly in protests and meetings with the Council, ‘we want to stay in the local area as council tenants‘. They always receive promises that this will be the case but these are always broken somewhere down the line by the Council despite mealy mouthed public assurances that ‘regeneration’ will benefit all – local communities and incoming private buyers. This is never the case. We have to start viewing regeneration as premised on lies. Regeneration is a big lie and the schemes are impossible to deliver without lies. This has been our experience every time. This is crucial for any new campaign against ‘regeneration’ to grasp at the very beginning.

Nearly As Good As Sherlock Holmes!

The Elmington story is, as yet, little known which is why we’ve spent a long time piecing it together. It starts all rosy with new Council homes built in Phase 1 but by Phase Two and Three, ‘regeneration’ simply means demolition of council housing and any replacement social housing delivered being unaffordable – shared ownership or ‘affordable rent’. The Council on the hand publicly attacks ‘affordable rent’ (rents up to 80% of local private rents) but on the other hand allows Notting Hill Housing Trust to build ‘affordable rent’ homes as the policy compliant ‘affordable homes’ component of Phase Two. Such demolition then means a displacement of tenants to other parts of the Borough and the displacement of leaseholders through both low valuations and a vicious Compulsory Purchase process.

elmington green twoElmington Estate, the name of the game! Elmington Green, mostly private homes built on top of demolished council flats

In the long years since the ‘regeneration’ started, the fact that hundreds of council homes were demolished is brushed under the carpet as the Council reneges or fails to provide a Right of Return for many of the households who signed up to the ‘regeneration’ on the premise of a new Council Homes on site. Despite the staggering initial loss of 369 council homes, the Council ten years later describes the empty land as a ‘brownfield site‘ and hence ripe for flogging off to developers. Those former homes are now magically absent as if they never existed, those tenants moved off to somewhere and non-existent too.

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Although our long study of the highly dubious Elmington ‘regeneration’ sadly does not read as good as Sherlock Homes, there is something of a whodunnit about it. This is why we love to highlight once again this quote from Richard Livingstone, the (then) Southwark Cabinet Member for Housing in April 2015: ‘It is also worth noting that for every estate regeneration that has started since Labour took back control of the council (so this excludes Aylesbury and Heygate where the process started pre-2010) we have either retained the current stock or plan to increase the number of council homes’. This he said as the Phase Three Elmington demolitions and resulting loss of council homes were just about to start. Whodunnit indeed?

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Elmington Estate ‘regeneration’ Phase Three demolitions of the maisonette blocks, 2016

In an exchange on November 22 2016 with Leader of the Council Peter John about the current demolition of council homes, we were surprised as ever by his claims. After, we pointed out that 144 homes were being demolished on Elmington and that no council homes were part of the scheme to re-house those displaced, his answer was the usual ill-informed one: ‘Council tenants prioritised for re-housing in better accommodation. New social housing delivered at Elmington’. We then pointed out that if less non-council social rented homes were built for rehousing folks then it wasn’t much of a priority. If 113 council homes are demolished and only 62 social rented homes are built, that’s a little bit less than 55% replacement. So where is the right of return to the area they agreed to leave for the other 45% of the community? The discussion went cold when we pointed out these facts and asked where people would go. Peter John said he ‘didn’t know and will look into it’. Five months later, we are still waiting for an answer. Whodunnit Peter? Magnifying glass is in the post to you!

Elephant Shopping Centre: The Time Is Now! Meeting Tues 28th Feb

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE ELEPHANT & CASTLE SHOPPING CENTRE?

The Shopping Centre is owned by property developer Delancey. It wants to demolish the Centre and build new shops and 900+ new homes in its place. But before Delancey can demolish the Centre it must get planning permission from the local council, Southwark. It must also get Southwark Council’s permission for any new buildings it wants to build.

Delancey gave Southwark its plans for the new shops and homes before Christmas. Delancey’s plans raise two big questions;

Will there be new shops for local traders?
Will there be new homes for local people?

Southwark Council is now asking what local traders and local residents think of Delancey’s plans and we must make our voices heard.

The Elephant Amenity Network is a group of local people that campaigns for a better deal from the Elephant’s regeneration. In this public meeting we invite all local people to discuss Delancey’s plans for the Shopping Centre – what we think of them and how we want them changed. We are being supported by the Southwark Green Party and other groups and campaigns.

The meeting will on Tuesday February 28th at 7pm

Venue: Tesco’s First Floor unit (above Tescos shop)

All are welcome – come and join us!

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Delancey’s plans for the shopping centre can be seen above. You can make comments here on our online form. It’s simple to use:

http://commentform.herokuapp.com/

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Already there are detailed responses to Delancey’s plans most focusing on the plight of local traders in the Centre and market who are not being well looked after. Re-location strategies have not been forthcoming and only vague promises are being made (if at all), something we have seen across the entire Elephant regeneration project. Worth reading these objections from Southwark Green Party & Latin Elephant. They may give you some fine details to work with for your objections.

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The meeting has been organised by the Elephant Amenity Network’s 35% Campaign – http://35percent.org/

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¿QUE ESTARA PASANDO CON EL CENTRO COMERCIAL DE ELEPHANT & CASTLE?

El centro comercial es propiedad de los desarrolladores Delancey, quienes proponen demoler el centro y construir nuevas tiendas y residencias en su lugar.

Pero antes de la demolición del centro ellos deben obtener permiso de gobierno local de Southwark. También debe obtener de Southwark Council permiso para la construcción de nuevos edificios.

Delancey entregó sus planes para nuevas tiendas y residencias antes de Navidad. Los planes de Delancey resaltan dos preguntas importantes:

  • ¿Habrá nuevas tiendas para comerciantes locales?

  • ¿Habrá nuevas residencias para la gente local?

Southwark Council está preguntándole a comerciantes y residentes locales qué piensan sobre los planes de Delancey y debemos dejarles saber nuestro sentir, que nuestras voces se escuchen.

Elephant Amenity Network es un grupo de personas locales que llevan una campaña para obtener un mejor resultado de la regeneración de Elephant. En nuestra próxima reunión discutiremos los planes que Delancey tiene para el centro comercial – Qué pensamos y qué queremos cambiar. Nos apoya el partido ambientalista de Southwark (Southwark Green Party).

La reunión será a las Martes 28th febrero, 7pm

¿dónde? – TESCO Unidad de primer piso

Todos bienvenidos – les esperamos!

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Los planes de Delancey estan disponibles en

http://planbuild.southwark.gov.uk:8190/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do;jsessionid=02EFEEFD01FBEF127FA1974DAC930F47?action=firstPage

Esta reunión organizada por Elephant Amenity Network’s 35% Campaign – http://35percent.org/


We Southwark Notes folks have written extensively about the fate of the Shopping Centre. Our most recent and top piece here: The Murder of The Elephant

Thurlow Lodge Centre, Aylesbury Estate Occupied

thurlow-lodge-folks
(Pic: Southwark News)

Thurlow Lodge Community Hall on Aylesbury Estate, Walworth is being defended by local users and groups after Southwark Council sought to close the well used space. Locals have began an occupation of the space and a meeting this week issued the following joint statement from Divine Rescue, the Thurlow Lodge occupation committee and Aylesbury new TRA steering group:

Save Divine Rescue and Thurlow Lodge Community Hall
Support the occupation of Thurlow Lodge!

Southwark Council intends to close or privatise Thurlow Lodge Community Hall and it has tried to evict homeless charity and foodbank Divine Rescue from Thurlow Lodge. This is both an attack on the homeless, disabled and poor clients of this charity and an attack on council tenants and residents on the Aylesbury Estate. By demolishing more than 2,000 council homes on the Aylesbury, the Council will create even more homeless people.

Our occupation, determined opposition and the support of trade unions, campaign groups and the wider tenants’ movement has forced the Council to row back on their eviction threats and attempts to close the hall. The Council now claims it never tried to close the hall in the first place! However, it is still considering legal action against Divine Rescue and it has put the prospect of privatisation on the table by saying that the hall will be put out to tender.

This is unacceptable. Tenants and residents on the Aylesbury are in the process of forming a new tenants’ and residents’ association which claims the right to manage this hall in the interests of the community, provide a secure home for Divine Rescue and fight for council housing for all. We are proud to state that the new TRA steering group has been offered the solidarity and assistance of experienced tenant reps in Southwark. We have every confidence that the new TRA will be able to successfully manage the hall and provide a full programme of events and activities. The new TRA is keen to work with the two remaining TRAs on the Aylesbury Estate to provide a genuine democratic voice for Aylesbury tenants and residents.

We demand that the Council recognise the Aylesbury new TRA as soon as it is set up. We demand that the Council lifts all threats of closure and privatisation and accepts that Divine Rescue can remain, on its current rent.   We call on Southwark Council to halt the demolition of the Aylesbury Estate and instead refurbish and properly maintain our council housing.

Signed, Thurlow Lodge occupation committee, Divine Rescue and Aylesbury new TRA

What you can do: Send a message of support, invite us to speak at your meeting:
thurlowlodgeoccupation@gmail.com  southwarkdch@gmail.com

For updates go to facebook southwark dch. 

Sign this petition

Join us in our programme of activities in defence of our TRA hall and Divine Rescue

Thurlow Lodge Community Hall
1 Thurlow Street, London, SE17 2US

Saturday 14th January 3pm – Solidarity Tea Party with music and fun. Bring union and campaign banners. Banner making workshop. All welcome including children.

Sunday 15th January 5:30pm – New TRA inaugural meeting. All Aylesbury tenants and residents welcome Followed by 6:30pm – Occupation meeting

 

Press Coverage:

South London Press
https://www.londonnewsonline.co.uk/14905/bailiffs-attempt-another-eviction-foodbank-time-protestors-ready/

Southwark News
http://www.southwarknews.co.uk/news/homeless-charity-divine-rescue-workers-resisting-eviction-home-aylesbury-estate/