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Why we are protesting LCC (London College of Communication) as ‘Development Partner’ at The Elephant

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It’s been a big fight again at The Elephant but it’s been a fantastic united effort of organising against the disastrous plans for the area. Local people, students, traders and other groups have come together to try and put a stop to the violent social cleansing of the area. As we’ve said before, The Elephant Shopping Centre is the very heart of the area and it’s a place of getting your shopping done whilst making vital social interactions with shop-owners and friends alike.

All of us who have come together under the Up The Elephant campaign recognise what a terrible loss to the Shopping Centre will be. For us, we can’t eat luxury flats and we don’t want to lose the myriad of small businesses to a sterile plaza of Café Nerro, Wagamama or Foxtons! We are demanding for The Elephant genuinely affordable homes, guaranteed protection for small traders and keeping the Bingo. In January 2018 we managed to get the planning permission for the scheme adjourned so that the Council and developers would have to start taking onboard our demands. Seeing as the ‘there is no alternative’ Council has recommended that the scheme by given permission, this was no uncertain victory along the way for what we want for our community!

 

Actually Existing Local People!!

On Saturday morning again, we were part of a campaign stall talking to users of the Shopping Centre and precious few of the hundred or so people we talked to were in favour of the development plans for 100’s of unaffordable flats and the loss of what makes the Shopping Centre so great – its soul and its sense of community.

But it has only been through the efforts of Up The Elephant that any of the plans have been changed at all. Peter John, Southwark Council leader, has remained silent on how on the question of housing Delancey has been forced by us to include more social rented homes in the plans. Instead of seeing the community in action (and with help from some local councillors) as a leverage and a pressure on the developers for a better deal, his only recent comment has been how he thought that ‘on balance – and it was always an ‘on balance’ view – that the offer was good enough’. That ‘offer’ was originally only 33 social rented homes out of a total of 979 – that would be about 3% homes in any way affordable to the local community! In the same interview he talks about his belief in ‘old-fashioned municipal socialism’. Yes, we support free school meals and free swimming for local residents but municipal socialism was never about demolishing council homes (see Aylesbury Estate!) or not even understanding the basic effects or more and more overpriced developments in poor areas like The Elephant.

 

The London College of Complicity

It is only recently that campaigners have been highlighting the role of local London College of Communication (LCC) in this development plan. LCC, a part of the University of The Arts London (UAL) group of art schools, is a development partner with Delancey, the shadowy offshore and tax-avoiding developer behind the whole Elephant scheme. What UAL/LCC seeks to gain is a new campus on the site of the Shopping Centre once it is demolished.

Now, no-one is saying that nothing should ever change and everything should always stay the same and so the local campaigns are not against a new campus for the LCC but not at such a cost to the local area. But UAL and LCC management have been spectacularly bad at being in any way accountable to the local community they have been part of for over 50 years. Natalie Brett, Head of London College of Communication and Pro Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London essentially gave the same ‘woe-is-us’ speech at a Community Council meeting and a meeting organised by the Walworth Society with Delancey. At no point in her speech did she recognise any of the community’s concerns nor did she even make direct reference to those concerns. Instead she warbled on about how shabby the LCC campus is and how they are desperate for a new campus.

In February 2018 in a public relations response forced by all the pressure the campaigns were bringing down on LCC, she wrote: ‘We welcome the agreement from Southwark Council’s planning committee to defer the final planning decision to enable further discussions to take place to address key issues and concerns raised by Councillors and local community stakeholders’. However in another interview published in a recent LCC publication she describes how she is ‘not very happy in the way it turned out because I think there was so much noise going on about the concerns here, that there wasn’t enough opportunity for the benefits of the project to come through’.

Natalie Brett seems happy to remain sceptical about the strength of local opposition and from this point onwards, LCC retreated away again from hosting any actual public engagement with local people who could be invited in for a genuine dialogue with LCC as a long-term part of the local area. All that has happened is that Delancey opened up a shop front in the Shopping Centre where fancy displays and leaflets can only demonstrate to us what we already know – that the scheme still isn’t good enough for us! So far none of the Up The Elephant campaigns have been invited to discuss their concerns directly with LCC management. Maybe we are simply too noisy for Natalie Brett?
The College even has the large LCC Studio space on the First Floor of the Shopping Centre where they could host dynamic conversations about the plans with the campaigns and local people. There have been one or two exhibitions held by LCC there that feature different takes on issues of regeneration but nothing truly reaching out to the local community and asking for their opinions, good or bad!

 

London College of Communication in Consultation Mode

We are aware that there have been formal meetings with staff about redevelopment at LCC. There was a drop-in consultation meeting at LCC for staff in the last months where Delancey did their latest pitch showing how they had improved the social housing offer in response to local pressure. Members of staff could ask Delancey questions at this.  Staff have also been encouraged to go and look at plans in Shopping Centre.

A member of staff told us:
Its been quite strange the way the college management and staff seem to be handling the whole redevelopment thing. I mean the declining Elephant and its estates has been in loads of projects by staff and students over the years – so there’s been interest and they have been critical I think, but now its like there’s a disconnect. I think the union has tried to raise the issue. There was a meeting a while ago last year maybe, there were some people from the Elephant campaigns there who did a talk. But it seemed to go quiet after that. I don’t know what happened. Or maybe its like people think the College doesn’t have responsibility towards social justice at a local level – its just something to say in brochures and student projects!
   I did hear that some staff were being encouraged by the management to sign some developers petition, which seemed really bizarre. And some staff tweeting the petition out I think! I don’t know if that’s true, I didn’t get asked. The view from higher up seems to be that its all down to the Council about the development, the college is just a trying to get a building to do right by its staff and students. That’s what I’ve heard at the big all staff meetings. I think privately and amongst themselves a lot of people don’t think its right. So I wonder if people are a bit scared to be more vocal. One of the union leaders at LCC a few years ago who wouldn’t let management get away with anything, lost his job. People don’t want to be targets and are worried about their jobs. It would be like taking on the management and not just LCC but UAL. There is a lot hanging on the new building, for the head I expect as well. Its a big machine UAL.

We were very grateful to hear an insiders view on goings on at LCC and are always happy to give an anonymous platform for any staff or students at LCC to voice their concerns about the role of the College in these shonky development plans. (elephantnotes@yahoo.co.uk – or by post or hand to: Southwark Notes c/o 56a Infoshop, 56 Crampton St, SE17 3AE)

 

The Students Will Have Their Say

As part of the increasing pressure being put on LCC / UAL, there has been quite a robust campaign from students from the College and from other UAL campuses such as Central St Martins in Kings Cross and Chelsea College. The students initiated their own Stop The Elephant Development campaign back in January with an occupation of the LCC right before the Council’s planning committee meeting on January 30th. Since then they have also made a feisty intervention at the opening night of the LCC large ‘Capital City’ exhibition in April and another one at the opening of LCC degree shows in May: ‘A group of us from Stop the Elephant Development stormed the event, disrupting it for over 2 hours at the peak of the event despite a heavily increased security and bag searches. Occupying the space, a number of us had brilliant conversations with attendees of the event, including students who exhibited and members of the public. Significantly, Jeremy Till Head of Central St Martins chose to tell the ArtsSU Campaigns Officer that as a student union officer she should be ashamed of herself and that the action was “disgusting and pathetic just like the idiot students who partake in this nonsense”, before refusing to answer why UAL continues to ignore the demands of the community and UAL students and workers’.

The intervention at the Capital City opening was interesting as the LCC show was about highlighting ‘the relationship between money and property in London and its affects on all lives’. We saw the show and the intervention and it was a perfect companion to students work on display that did bring attention to the LCC role in gentrification amongst other topics and themes. Students from Stop The Elephant Development made some good points in a decent exchange with a LCC lecturer on Twitter: ‘Exhibitions need to be active spaces that create new ways of speaking to each other and organising how we work together – as well as drawing attention to issues and debates…This is a common problem with (often v worthy) university projects when they are conducted without the engagement of communities in knowledge production: the gaze often goes one way; the knowledge produced is abstracted or moralised rather than directly political’.

The accompanying Capital City booklet did contains good pieces from staff and students on how such speculation and development (such as LCC and Delanceys) is making life increasingly harder for many and increasingly desperate for the many marginalised communities in London. It’s a shame that such criticism of the LCC can seemingly only be reserved for exhibitions but no actual feedback or dialogue is invited into management there to hear from staff, students or local campaigns. The student campaign has however been meeting with different Up The Elephant people since January and we’ve had some good critical exchanges.

One student said to us: ‘As a student paying thousands of pounds to study here over the past few years, its been difficult to comprehend that the university management’s attitude and behaviour over the last year has been real and not some surreal waking nightmare. Even looking beyond the heavy-handed security and harassment of staff and students, it’s the sheer arrogance and the contempt with which the university appears to view students, staff and local residents that has been most difficult to comprehend. Claiming to need to remain in Elephant and Castle to support the very community that these plans will inevitably tear apart is a kick in the face. Desperate straw clutching it may well be, but people are afraid to speak out. My involvement in the campaigns has been quietly praised, but on several occasions I’ve been warned with sincerity, “keep a low profile, jeopardise your degree”. It has become an increasingly surreal and aggressive atmosphere and the university’s management can’t bury their heads in the sand forever – students and staff deserve answers and people like Natalie Brett need to be held accountable for their lies and false promises‘.

Other students actions have also been happening at other UAL campuses such as student meetings and banner displays against UAL involvement in social cleansing.

 

‘Up The Elephant’ Campaign

Up The Elephant has been gearing up again in recent weeks with the expectation that the Elephant Shopping Centre application will go back to Planning Committee in July. The campaigns have written an Open Letter to Natalie Brett and UAL signed by 20 local community groups, tenants and residents associations and others. In the letter the basic demands are outlined again:

• 35% real affordable housing made up of half social rent and half London Living rent, with secure tenancies. This must include a commitment that the Planning Committee will sign off any new S106 deal and that the affordable housing composition cannot be reduced at a later date.

• A relocation or compensation deal for all traders with a traders panel set up. Affordable units should be provided at 40% of market rates (as per policy) with temporary units available for everyone whilst the development is underway, rent free for 1st year. £100-250k compensation should be provided for any trader forced to relocate. This should include all traders within red line of the plan, from market stalls to shops, kiosks and stands. And commitment for a right to return.

• Bingo and bowling remain. Delancey’s removal of the Palatial Leisure facility disproportionately affect older people and people of colour which we believe to be a breach of the Equality Act 2010. Affordable leisure facilities are essential for a neighbourhood to thrive, as such, any redevelopment must reinstate the facilities at the heart of our community.

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Up The Elephant has also called a noise-making community protest to gather our forces for Thursday 21st June where we can stand up for The Elephant. We welcome all and any who don’t want to see the ruin of what we love about our area to come and join the protest. We will be highlighting LCC / UAL’s role in social cleansing by assembling the protest outside their front doors at 6pm! Be there and fight for what you want in your community.

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Open Letter To Natalie Brett, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, London College of Communications

Natalie Brett
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College
University of the Arts London
London College of Communication
Elephant & Castle
London SE1 6SB

13th June 2018

Dear Natalie Brett and UAL management,

Open letter on the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre

This is an open letter from the groups representing the Elephant and Castle local communities asking for your support in achieving a redevelopment plan for the shopping centre that doesn’t push the local community out.

We oppose Delancey’s plan in it’s amended form, which gives with one hand and takes away with another. Within their new housing offer they have hiked the prices of some of the affordable flats to make up for the increase in social housing. Their additions include a temporary boxpark of just under 300sq/m for displaced small independent traders who (according to the Council) currently occupy 4,000sq/m. Moreover there is no commitment on security of tenancy or affordability of rent and still no commitment to a ‘right to return’. The traders, whose families depend on the income from their businesses, cannot make a living with this level of prolonged insecurity. Lastly, despite Delancey intimating that the bingo hall could return, their suggestions has so far proven totally unworkable.

As it stands, the amended redevelopment plan is designed for a local population that Delancey wishes to attract to the area, rather than for the population already here. But It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a redevelopment model that could work for everyone and we ask you, UAL, to support us in making this a reality. This model is modest, and in terms of the housing offer simply compliant with Southwark Council’s own policy intentions. The community groups represented by our campaign have come together to formulate certain demands including :

  1. 35% real affordable housing made up of half social rent and half London Living rent, with secure tenancies. This must include a commitment that the Planning Committee will sign off any new S106 deal and that the affordable housing composition cannot be reduced at a later date.
  2. A relocation or compensation deal for all traders with a traders panel set up. Affordable units should be provided at 40% of market rates (as per policy) with temporary units available for everyone whilst the development is underway, rent free for 1st year. £100-250k compensation should be provided for any trader forced to relocate. This should include all traders within red line of the plan, from market stalls to shops, kiosks and stands. And commitment for a right to return.
  3. Bingo and bowling remain. Delancey’s removal of the Palatial Leisure facility disproportionately affect older people and people of colour which we believe to be a breach of the Equality Act 2010. Affordable leisure facilities are essential for a neighbourhood to thrive, as such, any redevelopment must reinstate the facilities at the heart of our community.

We suggest these improvements to the scheme are paid for out of Delancey’s £153 million projected profit. We are not opposed to development and the improvement of the Elephant and Castle area, in fact we would welcome it. We also appreciate LCC’s need for a new building. Our issue with the current proposal is that it does not bring tangible benefits to local people in terms of housing (or leisure), nor for existing traders and that is why we are asking for your support in putting forward these demands. We are aware that the college has been shortlisted for the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards for students’ work with local businesses. However although this is welcome, it is questionable whether any of these businesses will be able to remain in the area due to the proposed development. We know that UAL, and LCC in particular, are committed to community engagement, equality and social justice. As key partners in the development we are appealing to you to turn these values into genuinely social action.

We invite you to respond directly to our request.

Jerry Flynn
(35% Campaign)

On behalf of the following;

35% Campaign
Elephant Amenity Network
Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First
Fight for the Aylesbury
Latin Elephant
Southwark Defend Council Housing
Alvey Tenants & Residents Association (TRA)
Fight For Revite
Ledbury Action Group
Rockingham Community Association
Southwark Law Centre
Walworth Green Party
People’s Republic of Southwark
Rainbow Collective
Southwark Notes
56a Infoshop
Stop the Elephant Development Campaign
People’s Bureau
Elephant Family Action
Arts SU, UAL Student Union

DISRUPTION AT THE PRIVATE VIEW OF HYPOCRITICAL LCC EXHIBITION “Capital City”

We wanted to highlight once again the amazing solidarity work being done by students and supporters across University of The Arts campuses against the UAL-LCC (London College of Communications) complicity with the social cleansing of The Elephant. By joining forces as a ‘development partner’ with offshore tax-avoiding company Delancey to demolish the Elephant Shopping Centre and build 1000’s of unaffordable homes, LCC is actually sounding the death knell for the local community it is has been part of for years. It’s quite sad and tragic, really.

 

All the local campaigns have been astounded at how LCC has both been unable and unwilling to reach out to local community campaigns to discuss these disastrous plans and also has been putting the heavies onto staff and students who have asked for such meetings. The only public outreach has been to attend two Community Council meetings and make pitiful speeches about how decrepit the LCC blocks are and how they need the new campus Delancey will build them as part of the deal. Sure but how about engaging with local people on the issue of regeneration displacement and the gentrification of the area and all its pressures on local renters and local businesses?

 

With this in mind, it seems that hosting a large exhibition Capital Citythat examines the relationship between money and property in London, and its effects on all our lives‘ is a bit flippin’ rich if you aren’t actually engaging with local people affected by the very same processes you are happy to ‘examine’. We don’t need any more liberal debates about ‘wealth disparity’ or ‘estate regeneration’. We are not a ‘debate’. We are the local community suffering from these processes.

Here is the brilliant text written by the Stop the Elephant Development group describing the protest at Capital City:

‘Tonight LCC held a private view for their new “Capital City” exhibition and series of events. The exhibition is described as ‘examining the relationship between money and property in London, and its effects on all of our lives’ and explicitly references gentrification.

There was no invitation for either our group or any of the rest of the community campaign in the exhibition, though a number of students and teaching staff fought to exhibit work directly referencing UAL’s role in the disastrous Delancey development in Elephant and Castle, some even showcasing our designs and posters.

A group of us from Stop the Elephant Development stormed the event, disrupting it for over 2 hours at the peak of the event despite a heavily increased security and bag searches. Occupying the space, a number of us had brilliant conversations with attendees of the event, including students who exhibited and members of the public.
Significantly, Jeremy Till Head of CSM chose to tell the ArtsSU Campaigns Officer that as a student union officer she should be ashamed of herself and that the action was “disgusting and pathetic just like the idiot students who partake in this nonsense”, before refusing to answer why UAL continues to ignore the demands of the community and UAL students and workers.

A member of Delancey’s management team was also in attendance for the event and looked very awkward.

Overall, the action was well received: answering questions from people who were curious, promoting the campaign to those who asked for leaflets, and having constructive conversations with a number of attendees.

Throughout the disruption, security on the orders of management surrounded the group and restricted the movement of our roaming chants and handing out of leaflets. The entrance to the block where management offices are located was blocked off entirely by a constant wall of security, clearly out of fear another occupation might take place.

We were loud, clear and disruptive with our demands and message that UAL management are complicit in gentrification. Huge respect to the students and artists involved in putting on this event – at the same time, we will not let UAL whitewash themselves with a veneer of radicalism by hosting this, whilst continuously ignoring the voices of the community and those of us fighting in solidarity.

Thank you to the nearly 30 students (from across all 6 UAL colleges!) who came to and made our term 3 planning meeting so productive and energising ! Lots of exciting ideas to keep the pressure up, see you soon UAL management…
NO TO GENTRIFICATION // YES TO SOCIAL HOUSING’

 

Local anti-gentrification group Fight For Revite from Ark Academy school: Quick interview

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Southwark Notes were excited to run across the newly formed group Fight For Revite made up of young adults from Ark Academy school in North Southwark when we attended the last Community Council meeting in March. Fight for Revite were great at asking Stafford Lancaster, investment director at Delancey, some pointed questions about how viability assessments made by developers are often skewed to enable them to pretend they can’t provide 35% ‘affordable’ housing on a scheme.

The question of how regeneration and social cleansing affects young adults is rarely asked. As young people subject to all sorts top-down decisions being made about their community we thought it might be a good idea to both interview them and to give them some publicity.

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How did you decide to come together as a group?

We came together for a project called UniteUS which is a competition run by the US embassy so we decided to come together because we all had similar views on the same social issues.

What does Fight for Revite want to do as a group?

-Increase awareness
-Advocate for more social housing
-Bring this up in Parliament
-Provide a platform for the youth and resident to be involved in the decision making process

How are you going to do this?

-We’ve sent emails to Jeremy Corbyn to arrange a meeting
-Attended community council meetings.
-Had a meeting with our principle Matt Jones
-Interviewed local traders and residents
-Gathered data
-Worked alongside Lend Lease

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One of your concerns is about gentrification- How do you see and experience this?

One of our members, Saidur, used to live in the old Heygate Estate and saw first hand the effects of gentrification. Furthermore, we all live nearby and are witness to the construction projects around us.


 

Give them some support – follow them on Twitter and invite them to your local events. We want to thank them for answering our questions even though they were very stressed from exams in those weeks. It’s great to see more and more different groups forming in Southwark especially young people raising these critical questions to the Council and developers and also to pupils and teachers in their own school.

 

HAGGLE FOR THE HEART OF THE ELEPHANT – ALL SET FOR TUESDAY 30th!!

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For once in our lifetime at Southwark Notes, we get to write something we’ve never ever written: The Council rejected a Planning Application that sought more luxury flats in The Elephant.

Savour that news, for now, as we have been savouring it too since Tues January 16th when after an epic 7 hour meeting, Delancey’s plans to knock down The Elephant Shopping Centre were put on hold.

Even more impressive was the remarkable re-grouping of the Elephant community. From the old campaigns who have been dogged in their graft from day one, to the new student and staff activists from London College of Communications (LCC), the formidable traders and their supporters, the media work being done by some to get the campaign’s voices out in print and video, and the folks from other parts of London nervous how any luxury over-development of The Elephant will impact their much-loved communities.

It’s been a joyful ride these last few weeks! In fact, we had tears in our eyes when we marched with you all on Tues 16th; 200 strong, up Borough High St to the gates of Southwark Council’s castle in Tooley St. A certain magic enabled us to all get into the Town Hall and make enough noise for the planning committee to know the community was at the door and not just online!!

 

DEVELOPERS FIGHT BACK. STUDENTS PULL A BLINDER

The last week has seen an amusing counter-PR campaign by the developer Delancey. They set up Twitter accounts to promote all the benefits as they want them to be seen. ‘They’ being an unaccountable offshore-registered, tax-avoiding client fund, so the benefits they see are only ever making ££££ for their investors. There was even a petition set up by the mysterious ‘Zara Hindle’ to encourage locals to support Delancey’s plans. In the end, the PR guff didn’t garner a lot of support. People can see it for what it is, a desperate move by a desperate developer.

The petition accused the campaigns of being an aggressive minority! Well, two things we know for sure are, yes we are aggressive in our assertion of being a community defending itself from the sheer violence of this ‘regeneration’ plan. As for being a minority, this community has organised countless public meetings, gathered online objections to the plan (900+) and pulled together a large and growing band of people determined to defeat this land grab. All this done for love and on a shoestring. There’s certainly no offshore bank accounts paying for any of our hard work.

And we can’t say we’ve seen much love for the plans: at the Planning Meeting on Jan 16th where space is given for someone local to support the plan, not a soul in the room spoke in favour.

In the last weeks too, students at LCC have been doing amazing organising to expose the College’s shameless partnership with Delancey. LCC is brazen in its support of Delancey against the wishes of the local community and have been very heavy-handed in dealing with any internal discussions that staff have tried to have about the LCC’s possible role in the social cleansing of the area.

LCC Occupation – Here

HOLD TIGHT! STAND FIRM! (and apply a pinch of salt…)

But despite all of this amazing campaigning and coming together, the dice is always loaded. We are not being cynical when we say that this is just the start. We face the long haul now and the campaigns have to stay sharp. We are going to be as honest as we can right now and say that the work of some local councillors on this campaign has been great and we’ve even heard a councillor or two say the word ‘gentrification’ here and there. Interesting times. But councillors, as ever, are as accountable to their communities and this round of speaking up remains to be tested over the next years. We are not being spiteful to remind people that not so long ago some of those same councillors sat in the same planning meeting as we all and approved the demolition of the Heygate Estate or the Aylesbury plans. But if there now is a sea change in local Labour party politics coming from pressure from local party members, and the national direction of the party, that’s great. Do your best! Just remember that the trust broken for years cannot be re-established in one night.

For us, we want to continue from this new found determination to defeat the social cleansing of the Elephant and beyond. We want local communities setting the agenda of what we want and what we clearly don’t want. And, of course this means support for our neighbours at the Aylesbury Estate where more of the same disaster is being dumped top-down onto tenants and residents. There is ample space now for local ward councillors there to be less pro-regeneration and listen better to the serious concerns of the community campaign on the Aylesbury. The ongoing Public Inquiry to the attempt to Compulsorily Purchase people’s homes on the Aylesbury has more than enough evidence and facts on how bad this ‘regeneration’ scheme is and will be for Walworth for generations to come.

 SHOPPIN CENTRE JAN 30TH 2018

NO SELL-OUT & NO STITCH UP ON TUESDAY 30th!

The community’s campaigning has made all the right and best arguments for the Elephant and we’ve all been backing them up with action. On Tues 30th January, the planning application is back at Southwark’s Planning Meeting. The pressure to pass the plan must be enormous on those sitting on the Planning Committee. It’s not even so clear what is possible at that Planning Meeting. The Council’s planning team has been publicly saying the reasons for refusing the plans are weak. Will there be more back-room wheeler-dealing like we saw at 1AM in the morning on Tues 16th! We hope not.

Once again, the community has called for a large mobilisation at the Town Hall. We say again: for any Londoner who fears for London becoming more and more a place for the rich and the wealthy at an extreme cost to the fabric of our local areas, please come down and support the battle for the heart of the Elephant. We are calling for a COMMUNITY CARNIVAL to demand that the vote is respected and that there is no STITCH UP! And we will be there to make sure this doesn’t happen!

Bring your campaign banners, flags, mobile sound systems, energies and passions! See you all there!

Interview with the LCC Occupation against Social Cleansing of The Elephant

On Tuesday 23rd January a hearty and determined band of students at London College of Communications (LCC) occupied once again a part of the college to highlight and organise around the complicity of LCC in the social cleansing of the area. We asked them questions about how things are and the activities and responses they are getting through the act of occupation. Massive love and respect to the Occupiers!!

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How is the occupation going?

Occupation is going well. We’ve since the start refused to show IDs, give our names or otherwise reveal our identity so for instance whenever any of us have had to pass the barriers to enter the rest of the building we’ve only been using Sahaya’s (campaigns officer at Arts SU) staff card. An arbitrary rule they’ve imposed where only the “original 14” people who took the space on Tuesday evening can occupy the office, compromising our right to free speech and protest (we’re working on changing that). In part due to the “original 14” rule we have around half a dozen or so people at any given point.

The university stepped up security on Friday by starting to do ID and bag searches outside the building (so before the barriers within LCC) however we still managed to sneak more people into the building to occupy the foyer staying overnight however since they weren’t part of the “original 14” they weren’t even allowed access to the toilet. The university is now threatening disciplinary action against Sahaya as the Student Union officer who they know let the new people in through the fire exit, this is very lightly an empty threat but proves they’re upping the intimidation tactics.

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How do you see the practical role of the occupation in the ongoing battle at the Elephant?

We’re here to put pressure on University of The Arts London (UAL) specifically due to their crucial role in the project’s ability to go ahead. As you know although Southwark Council requires that all housing developments comprise of a minimum of 35% affordable housing, half of which (17.5%) are to be social rents, only 3% of the planned housing in Delancey’s mixed-use development will be at ‘social rent equivalent’. This is a common loophole used in housing developments to avoid building the regulation amount of social housing is to partner up with institutions that are not technically for-profit, allowing the number of affordable homes the developer is required to build to be reduced.

In a meeting on 25th January between University of Arts London and Arts Students’ Union, Management confirmed that the new LCC campus is the lynch pin in the development allowing Delancey to exploit the social housing loophole. UAL has a reputation to maintain and by exposing management as complicit in social cleansing we hope that UAL realises the gravity of the situation and how many people are willing to fight to maintain the community that has been built around Elephant & Castle.

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What has been LCC’s response to the occupation and what kind of dialogue would you like with LCC?


We’ve sent LCC our demands which are:
We demand UAL release a statement on its website by the end of today (Jan 28th) which states that UAL:

commits to only accepting a plan that provides for majority social housing, in not just elephant and castle but any future development plan it’s a part of.

should use its role in any development plan to ensure genuine transparency, accountability and involvement of the community that lives and works where the development is going to take place.

We believe LCC’s response which arrived late on Friday to be totally unsatisfactory. They detailed that ‘the University has been meeting with local councilors and working with Delancey to seek a solution to the concerns about the development they have raised including at the planning hearing and that process is ongoing.” Another aspect of our dialogue is that LCC have tried to pass on responsibility for the decision making process to Southwark Council, saying they ‘expect Southwark Council to ensure adequate levels of social housing…. and we cannot… stipulate how and where the Council will deliver this provision“.

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What are practical ways can people support the occupation? Has it been possible for outside support to come?

People can like and share our posts on Facebook facebook.com/StopTheElephantDevelopment, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/OccupyElephant and instagram.com/stoptheelephantdevelopment  members of the community and students and staff at UAL can fill out our survey here: goo.gl/forms/29M8IqSSwkPgj0qF2.

As we’ve covered we’re having difficulties getting people into the actual occupation, but if we can get more people join us in the sit-in in the foyer outside the office, we always need more numbers.

We’re also having a campaign meeting and banner making session tomorrow Monday 29th Jan at 6pm at LCC, facebook event here: www.facebook.com/events/277895256073648/ .



What’s the occupation’s message for the Tues 30th Carnival?

We’re obviously doing what we can to mobilise students and have had extensive discussions about what we do on the 30th do we leave to join the protest and if so how?

We’re going to do everything we can to use the Monday and Tuesday to really engage UAL students, build lasting connections which we’ll hopefully be able to turn into a sustainable activist base and on talks, education and placard and banner making for the 30th.

We’re hoping that someone from the local campaigns would be up for coming and speaking again tomorrow at 6pm at campaign meeting we’re having that would be fantastic.
In solidarity,
The Occupation

 

They also did some great mainstream media stories:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/25/students-sit-in-university-social-cleaning-london-stop-elephant-castle

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/university-gentrification-ual-ucl-delancy-lendlease-acceptable-face-a8179816.html

IT’S NOT TOO LATE – The Aylesbury continues to resist. Support the Resisters!

Lots has been happening behind the scenes on the Aylesbury Estate since last time we wrote about it. The Aylesbury Leaseholder Action Group and their supporters have been working tirelessly preparing the objectors’ case to present at the second Public Inquiry on the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of a number of flats on the First Development Site (a section of the Aylesbury Estate), which will open next week, on Tuesday 9th January. 

As you might remember, in a landmark ruling the Secretary of State Sajid Javid had not confirmed the Compulsory Purchase Order for the First Development Site after the first public inquiry held in 2015. He wrote that a compelling case for the CPO had not been made by Southwark Council, on the grounds that the compulsory purchase would negatively impact protected groups such as the elderly, children and BME communities, and that the Council had failed on their Public Sector Equality Duty; and on the grounds that Southwark Council had not made enough efforts to negotiate with the leaseholders. Southwark Council contested the decision through, and after some to-ing and fro-ing within and outside the courts, it agreed to drop its judicial review if the Secretary of State held another inquiry, and so it was that a new public inquiry was ordered. It promises to be epic: starting on 9 January, it will run from Tuesday to Friday for three weeks.

As we said, a group of dedicated and determined objectors have been working day and night to put together a killer case against the order. A crowdfunding campaign was launched to pay for legal representation and this has allowed to pay for the help of a barrister to put the case together. It is not too late to contribute, and more funds are still needed: https://www.gofundme. com/aylesbury-the-right-to-a- community-2uefgf2s

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The whole collection of documents put together by the objectors has been made available publicly here (http://ouraylesbury.org/cpo/) . It’s a lot of documents, and many of them are very technical: the Objector’s Statement is a long summary (http://ouraylesbury.org/cpo/ objectorsstatementofcaseNOV201 7.pdf) and David Bailey’s statement is a powerful testimony from a leaseholder and his family that sums up all the issues that the leaseholders are facing (http://ouraylesbury.org/cpo/ dbailey.pdf). The bundle also contains statements from academics and professional people, including that of a surveyor who has developed a refurbishment plan for the site: (http://ouraylesbury.org/cpo/ simonmorrowproof.pdf).

AYLESBURY CPO FIRST pic

The public inquiry is open to the public and anyone can attend. Come along to show your support to the leaseholders – the proceedings can be dry, but the impact of a full public gallery on the inspector will be much greater than rows of empty seats. Let’s show them we are watching them closely!

From Tuesday 9 – 26 January (but not on Mondays), 9:30 – 17:30, Southwark Council Offices in 160 Tooley Street, London Bridge SE1.