On Tuesday 5th February 2013 there will be the first planning meeting after Lend Lease’s Outline Master Planning Application that was approved on 15th January at Council HQ, Tooley St. That permission was only an outline of what they intend to do to ‘regenerate‘ the larger Heygate Site between New Kent Rd and Walworth Rd. But split from the whole thing has been the smaller Heygate site (Phase One) between Rodney Rd and Balfour St. Whereas there used to be 105 Council homes in that site, today there is nothing but rubble and weeds. The meeting next Tuesday will consider a detailed planning application for real, actual, solid buildings to be constructed on that site. It is this intended development that will set the tone for the bigger Heygate site.
COME ON DOWN! VIEW THE FARCE!
Below we list just a few of the planning permissions bad intention for the site and why it’s a crap deal for the long-standing existing population. But here and now we want to urge anyone who cares about The Elephant to attend this charade of open, democratic and inclusive planning of our community’s future. There will be once again be a fantastic bunch of local folks doing their best to object to the development in the 3 minutes of allotted time. Last time the meeting was held in the largest room in Tooley St but this was still too small to fit all those opposed to this regeneration scheme especially once the room had been filled with council folks, Lend Lease and Soundings Consultation company. It’s up to us to make our presence known to the Planning Committee and the strength of feeling in the room. It was pointed out to us that the meeting is not a ‘public meeting‘ but a ‘meeting held in public‘ as if this wordplay can cancel out what the public might have to say on the matter!
Why local people are angry could be any of the following:
• There is a small percentage of almost affordable homes included in the new scheme. This is because the developer has cried once more that the economic crisis makes it hard to maximise such profits if they have to build a minimum of 35% affordable houses which they are required to do by Southwark’s own policies.
The issue of affordability is fudged anyhow as the new affordable homes will not be genuinely affordable to long term local residents. Only 8 units of the affordable housing shortfall will be socially rented (so a reasonable rent level). The other affordable housing provision will consist of only 18 units with rents set at 50% of a private market rent.
• Section 106 agreements, that is money a developer gives to The Council as a kind of community benefit will mainly be spent within the development site itself and not on and around nearby streets as would make sense. So really there is a real lack of public benefits if the only regeneration of the public realm is actually a part of the private development.
• The Elephant & Castle regeneration zone is supposed to be car-free (as stipulated in the Council’s own plans and policies) as the area is served by many buses, two tube lines and a train station: ‘The inclusion of these 23 non-designated bays as part of the development does not comply with policies that require developments in areas of high public transport accessibility to be car-free’. The Council is happy to ignore it’s own rules because they see the site as a ‘catalyst’ (like an accelerator?) for the wider regeneration zone. But does this ‘unfortunate’ rule breaking become the exception that proves the rule. Er..yes! Break the rules now and then it’s becomes easier for the next regeneration site. They even have the cheek to say that it’s so important to get all that affordable housing built (26 units) that relaxing the rules now is worth it. So you can blame those in need of affordable housing for all that car-parking!!
• The scheme is way to dense. 235 homes will replace 105. Half the trees on the site have already been chopped down anyhow so no need to worry about them and the bats that were roosting on site were denied by The Council to avoid a clear breach of strict bat protection laws. The Over-5’s children play area will be delivered off-site which means nowhere near the development and across many big roads wherever it maybe. The Basketball courts already on the site despite promises have been locked up for more than two years. There will only be a 25% amount of affordable retail units available. There has been no real development of the legacy of this development nor the impact of 600+ people moving into the area on the local services. Many of the homes will feature raised courtyards for the enjoyment of the homeowners. Such private and gated space is being fudged statistically with the reported amount of amenity space provided.
Phase One is a rip-off in progress as we like to say. It is The Elephant being sold under our noses. Tuesday’s Detailed Planning Application meeting is where the rip-off sell out will take place. Your free invitation to this farce has been issued by Southwark Council. Make sure you don’t miss the pantomime!