Tag Archives: soundings

LABOURING PETER JOHN

Regular readers of Southwark Notes will know that when we want to labour a point, we will do! In our previous post we pointed out that when Leader of The Council Peter John blames the silent poster protest at the Heygate Masterplan Planning Permission Meeting on those ‘not from The Elephant & Castle’, we wondered both how he might have known this and would it even matter if they were. We also said that pretending it was outsiders who came along to disrupt the event was ‘one of the oldest and slimiest political tricks in the book

peter john tweet

When we asked him via Twitter how he knew it was people from outside The Elephant his reply made us sense that maybe he then wondered if it had been such a good idea to hastily and publicly blame it on outsiders. So switching to the perhaps the second ‘oldest and slimiest political tricks in the book‘, the tactic of divide and rule, he replied that that was what he was told by ‘residents who were from E&C at the meeting & have been involved in consultation. Take it up with them‘. We would point out this:

1) Peter believes so much in the consultation process as the most amazing winner of hearts and minds locally but forgets that despite members of Elephant Amenity Network, Wansey St and Garland Court TRA and Heygate Leaseholders Group all being some part of the consultation, they were the ones at the meeting objecting to the Masterplan and being quizzed on those objections by councillors for nearly two hours. Elephant Amenity Network had even sent a public letter to both Soundings Consultation agency and to Sarah Gaventa as Chair of the Lend Lease-created Regeneration Forum criticising the consultation process. The letter was signed by 28 local people or those working locally. So it’s not as if those who chose to take part in the consultations wouldn’t have something to protest about nor support the protest which is what many of those there on the night did. The objections and the signs in the protest were saying the same things.

In addition when we recently published our lengthy analysis of Soundings and the consultation: Listening To No End, we had had lots of emails of support and thanks from local people who were part of the consultation and agreed with our dire judgement of it all. We suspect it would be a hard task indeed to find many people who thought that the hours and hours we all spent in consultation had actually achieved anything substantial in the Outline Masterplan. Simply put it hasn’t and that is why objections to the plan took two hours!

2) Telling us to ‘Take it up with them‘ is a classic switching of gears and maneuvering himself away from any responsibility for what he had said. Now it can be spun as a case of it was the good objectors who had been consulted who told him it was bad outsiders so it wasn’t his fault if they had been wrong! Well, the most obvious point to make again is – in a public meeting open to all, how would anyone know where everyone had come from? But this is somewhat by the by really! We were in the room and we certainly recognised quite a few of them and the local Elephant campaigns they are part of because there has been such a slow but building resentment of this regeneration scheme as more and more promises are broken that you do get to know a few people along the way!

We leave this labouring the point with an amazing email we received after the Planning Meeting and our report on it. It puts the case much more eloquently and brilliantly than we might be able to:

“Dear Southwark Notes,
I think that the objectors and protesters at the Planning Committee last Tuesday were an amazing evidence of what could only be called a process of collective self-education about planning and urban regeneration policies in the Elephant. The depth and ingenuity of the objectors’ arguments was only schematically reflected in the protestors’ references to planning regulations and policies. But it was all there because years ago many local residents embarked on a process of learning and disseminating information about the changes proposed and taking place, putting up or attending visioning events, holding regular open monthly meetings to discuss changes in the proposed plans, seeking the advice and knowledge of urban experts, writing concerned and informed letters and emails to local Councillors, to MPs, to planning experts, architects, newspapers; making and watching documentaries about the area; organising and visiting photographic exhibitions of local communities, interviewing and being interviewed…

The objections and the protesters are only a small testimony of this large, engaged and enraged community of concerned citizens and residents that know the area as the back of their hands, having spent years poring over badly written and incongruous plans and contradictory policies, and evenings and days formulating the right questions to ask at ‘consultation’ meetings and open events… this is a participatory, varied and democratic public – one that understands constrains and not only critiques but also proposes (see EAN Visioning Event repart and EAN Interim uses report), that has always tried to engage and never to simply reject urban change…

The accusation that they are not ‘local residents’ is baffling: only an act of love for the neighbourhood and the area would have made all those people remain in a stiflingly hot and stuffy room for over 6 hours listening to planning jargon, poring over 200 pages documents, attentive, furiously taking notes, knowing what was being said, why the developers’ speech was full of euphemisms and fuzzy sales pitches, because none of what they say is grounded in the reality of the area, because what they are proposing is just another anonymous and alienating cut and paste from their repertoire of ‘global solutions'”


Normal Southwark Notes service will now be resumed after this unnecessary hiatus concerning The Leader of The Council.

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HOW THE ELEPHANT WAS SOLD AT TOOLEY ST ONE TUESDAY NIGHT

We seriously haven’t recovered yet from our attendance at last night’s monster six hour pantomime playing at the Tooley St Theatre where the show was all about whether a large unaccountable development company (Lend Lease) could link up with a smaller unaccountable local council (Southwark) and do dastardly business together. The audience were played by local people who think these ugly sisters of business and wannabe politicians are about to re-stage the Kings New Clothes down at The Elephant. Any road up, here is a quick report. We will come back to the details at a later date.

DSCF2977
• 50 members of the public were excluded from a public meeting that affects their area. The Council didn’t have a room big enough at Tooley St offices to hold all those who wanted to sit through the pantomime so it kept a whole bunch of folks outside until half way thorough when enough people had left to accommodate 20 of them. The police and security kept the door between the lobby and the meeting room secure. At one point in the break, they even started off not letting anyone from the hearing going into where the excluded folks were but relented after some argument. Of course, the Council was uninterested in holding the meeting in a place that was actually big enough despite their being over 200 objections received. Of 102 possible seats, many were taken up by Lend Lease, Soundings (Consultation cronies) and council folks. A bigger room is a no brainer if you actually give a toss!

planningcommittee3
• About 30 of the excluded people decided to hold their own fantastic objectors meeting outside in the lobby to discuss why they were there and their own concerns. We thought that was a brilliant idea instead of just giving up and going home.

DSCF2980
• This is what the meeting looked like. A bright and airless room where we sat for 6 hours listening to one hour of brilliant focused, precise and wise objections to the Council’s willful overlooking of a Masterplan that breaches it’s own policies in numerous topics – affordable housing, car parking, sustainability, health and education and over-12 play provision and so on. And then 5 hours more of silence from any Labour Councillors to actually have any single criticism of the Masterplan and sometimes good and sometimes rather tired questioning from the Lib-Dems on the Planning Committee. All the Councillors had received detailed objections from tons of people as emails and papers and these were also all in the large 197 page Planning Committee document that each of them had. Yet they were unable to really get to grips with both the nuances and precise content of those objections. At the start we were informed that the meeting was ‘not party political‘ as if having 4 Labour councillors and 3 Lib-Dems was going to make no difference at all to the final vote.

rip off viable

aff rent not social

comm con not box

crowd signs1
• We also heard over an hour of Lend Lease corporate waffle and nonsense. One example among the many that we are afraid to unleash to those who weren’t there: When asked whether new more chain shops might be seen as a dangerous competition to long established local traders, one Lend Lease word magician replied that he ‘didn’t like to think of it as competition but as more like opportunity‘. Of course destroying local shopping is also contrary to the new 2012 National Planning Policy Framework that seeks for council to ‘ensure the vitality of town centres‘ i.e don’t make everywhere chain retail hell.

During Lend Lease’s questioning by the Council (akin to being ‘savaged by a dead sheep‘ as the saying goes) local people held up signs in silence to highlight key objections to the Masterplan. The Chair for the night Labour Councilor Nick Dolezal, who we found rather showy and cartoonish, freaked out and threatened the protestors with removal even though when security came they were decidedly reluctant to begin grabbing anyone. (Dolezal later publicly described them as ‘our little pixies‘!). Another threat to remove everyone bar the Council, the developers and the objectors who had spoken was also aired was similarly ignored because how can you seriously bar the public from a public meeting.

silent poster thing1
(Nick Dolezal ponders his next move as more posters are hoisted in yet another part of the room)

The silent protest was only meant to highlight the farce in progress anyhow and not to prevent anyone from hearing the rest of what was said. After twenty interesting minutes of Dolezal overreaction, the posters were lowered so that the show could go on. At point, a protestor offered the boyish Leader of the Council Peter John some posters which he took and enthusiastically threw to the floor. ‘Peter, not down there! You’re supposed to hold them up!’, was the poster givers reply. Made us laugh anyhow!

There was a telling moment near the end when the procedure requires ‘one representative for any supporters who live within 100 metres of the developement site‘ to come and testify their support. No one in the room rose to take up that role!

pink ele rip off

To cut a long story short, there was no surprise when the 2 Lib-Dems voted against (because it wasn’t their party in power but they would have done the same as Labour did last night if they were) and 4 Labour votes for the scheme. There was one totally pointless abstention from a most bizarre Lib-Dem councillor (who used to be a Tory councillor) from Dulwich. At telling moment came about 20 minutes before the vote when Dolezal was rushing to finish and in a moment of pushing things along, he said ‘Oh, I’m getting serious now‘ to which we would add: Well, it is probably a serious business, no? You wouldn’t think so given Dolezal’s constant gum-chewing, jokes and lack of impartiality.

To give you a clue as to how The Elephant was sold last night we will highlight the fact that when Lend Lease were questioned on whether they will receive the freehold of the Heygate Estate land, Dolezal ruled that this question had no bearing on the planning permission. It’s a bloody good question though! When you consider that the whole scheme delivers only 71 truly affordable socially rented units to replace the 1100+ council tenancies that made up Heygate and the rest of the ‘guaranteed‘ 25% of affordable homes are of such a tenure type* that they are actually extremely unaffordable for local people and also many Londoners, you might start to wonder how it is that this scheme can be granted approval. When you consider that Lend Lease reckons that the scheme is barely viable at approx 10% affordable housing but are committed to 25%,  and that no-one is allowed to actually look at the figures because they are commercially sensitive, you might wonder if a load of porkies is being told. Would they really commit to something so obviously risky? When you consider all this, the question of whether Southwark will give Lend Lease the freehold to this currently publicly-owned land is a good and pertinent one.

(* In addition to the 71 target rent places (socially-rented) there will be a further 194 ‘Affordable Rent’ places, these rents being set at a rate of 50% of the private market rental rate locally. i.e not affordable to many. And this despite Southwark’s own 2011 objections to the concept of ‘Affordable Rent’ and the 2012 London Plan’s examination criticisms).

Lend Lease的壞公司

Lend Lease的壞公司

Anyhow, we have on tape Lend Lease’s absolute commitment to seeing this project through. So of they ever wangle out of it over the next 16 years, we will find them and subject them to a merciless replaying of this promise.

Oh, by the way, we would really be fools if we actually believed their promises. Like the Council, promises are made to be broken and to be forgotten.It is a rule at these meetings that no photography or sound / video recordings must be made and so with no actual official record of last night’s proceedings being made for public scrutiny, all of Lend Lease’s promises remain words in a room in a particular moment in time. Happily, to keep an important unofficial record, there were camera’s-a-g0-go (as you can see) recording the proceedings and at least two people in the audience taped the whole thing.

There was many a moment like this: When asked about interim uses on the Heygate site before the new houses are built and whether it would get in touch with Celia from Victory Park who had initiated a tree nursery with local school children in the Heygate Rose Garden*. They said ‘Yes, they would‘. It was common for them to nod and solemnly say ‘Yes, they would‘ to remaining open to alleviating many concerns that were raised. But with no minutes or record, who is there to keep them to their easy words?

(* We can add that this lovely example of a local community-led labour of love was not so heart-warming to the Council. They have welded the gates of the Rose Garden shut so neither Celia nor the kids can now get in there)

Poster 101
We will say it again: Southwark has no interest in hearing objections, useful criticism or local wisdom. It has no interest in even pretending (like Lend Lease) that it’s consultation is meaningful to any planning inquiry. It is wholly unaccountable to it’s voters. It is a total joke for anyone who cares passionately ebnough to engage in local politics through this kind of framework. This way of working is flawed. It simply cannot work to the benefit of local people. We spent years in consultation with these people, taking it seriously and giving up our knowledge and passions for free but we have not seen one single thing barring a few saved trees taken seriously or put into the Masterplan. The Masterplan remains a totally blatant and greedy land grab at the expense of local people.

heygate flush
After attending Lend Lease’s One The Elephant luxury flats ‘community preview‘ last week and last night’s farce, we were starting to get resigned to all this, to start to think it’s all over or that there is no alternative to the private investment model of housing and regeneration. It was a tough week.

But there is another way and we need to find it. We will continue doing what we do and we invite you, as always, to join us in that work.

villain
Here follows our shorter review of last night’s show:
PURE PARTY POLITICAL PLANNING PERMISSION PANTOMIME. PAH!

THE SIEGE OF THE ELEPHANT CONVERGENCE Sat 17th November 2012

The Siege of The Elephant:
A One-day Convergence
Saturday 17th November 2012

Saturday 17th November 11am – 5pm
Pembroke House
80 Tatum Street
London SE17 1QR

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Southwark Notes Archive Group* are currently inviting folks to contribute to The Siege of the Elephant, a one-day convergence against the gentrification of Elephant and Castle (and the surrounding area). The event aims to bring together local communities, activists, campaign and amenity group members and traders, as well as academics, students, researchers and members of campaign groups involved in similar regeneration/gentrification struggles in other areas of London.

There are two ways to contribute:

1) by participating to the event itself, which will take place on  Saturday 17th November  in Walworth, South London

2) and/or by submitting material to be displayed on the day and to be added to our Gentrification Archive. Submissions to the archive will also be accepted on a rolling basis from the Siege onwards.

The Siege of the Elephant
The aim of the day is to share evidence and discuss alternatives in
relation to the gentrification of North Southwark and Elephant and
Castle. The day will be divided in two parts and each will consist of
three parallel workshops followed by plenary discussions. We ask invited
contributors like you to introduce themselves and make a 5 minute
presentation on relevant evidence, work and/or experiences, which can
then be opened up for response to those at the table.

LIKELY TIMETABLE:
PART I (Morning) SESSIONS
How does gentrification work and what are its causes and effects in
Elephant and Castle?
The focus in these sessions will be on sharing evidence of:
1 – DISPLACEMENT: the displacement of existing communities (residential and commercial) and loss of public resources and amenities
2 – THE ROLE OF CONSULTATION: flaws with regeneration plans and the consultation processes (broken promises of re-housing, problems with top-down planning)
3 – THE SPIN OF REGENERATION: the role of PR and mass media narratives that support the Council’s and the developers own narratives around regeneration.

PART II (Afternoon) SESSIONS
How can we resist or alter dynamics of gentrification?
Discussing and exploring knowledge and practical ways and means that propose alternatives to regeneration as gentrification and the accompanying Local Authorities / developers’ consultations:
1 – COUNTERING DISPLACEMENT: countering the displacement of existing communities and the loss of public resources (the discontents of ‘affordable’ housing)
2 – POLITICISING CONSULTATION: resistance to empty consultation and enacting forms of local decision-making
3 – PROPOSING ALTERNATIVES: countering existing narratives of ‘failure and progress’ and promoting
alternative visions

Lunch and tea will be provided, and there may well also be time for walking
around the Heygate Estate and the Better Elephant permanent exhibition.
A finalised programme will be distributed closer to the date.

Facilitation on the day
Time is precious, so we are asking people to be selective with their contributions. Each workshop will be facilitated towards keeping the debate accessible to all and to allow time for all to contribute. Those interested in presenting evidence are asked to liaise with the organizers beforehand.

Participation In The Event:
There is no formal registration process for this event. All you need to do is write to us at:
elephantnotes@yahoo.co.uk

and we will contact you to confirm your participation and what you may be able to bring to this event – evidence, materials, facilitation skills etc.

Travel costs
We are unable to cover travel costs for all participants, but if you are
interested in coming from far and wide, do get in touch and we will
strive to contribute something from our small budget.

Contributions to Southwark Notes Gentrification Archive
We also want to use the event to expand Southwark Notes Gentrification Archive. This open-access archive attempts to hold a record of anti-gentrification struggle for the past 15 years in the North Southwark area. We are archiving books, newspaper cuttings, council brochures and academic publications on the local area as well as the local and global gentrification struggles. Let us know if you can provide us with copies of relevant work or material or if you have suggestions for work we should obtain for the archive. Material can be submitted in any format. If in digital format, we will try to print a hard copy on the day.

After the event
The evidence and discussions of the day will be compiled and a concise summary will be published and distributed for free as a small Southwark Notes pamphlet as well as online, and will include a thematic bibliography of recent research and publications.

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*Southwark Notes Archive Group run this popular anti-gentrification blog Southwark Notes that offers news, analysis and little stabs at the
gentrification of the area: https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com We have also been organising regular anti-gentrification walks, printing postcards, posters, maps and comics, and keeping active on within various groups and campaigns in the ongoing struggle whilst keeping an eye on the history (the mistakes and successes) and the big picture (globalisation, financialisation and all that!). We also maintain all this stuff and news and history in an archive within 56a Infoshop, the local Walworth self-managed community space.

Demolition-A-Go-Go: Take Your Pick!

We noticed two notices side by side in the window of the Lend Lease / Soundings The Hub on Walworth Rd today. That’s the place where some kind of supposed ‘consultation’ on what local people want happens but in the main it’s a place where the developers tell you what they are going to do. The two notices are as follows:


1) Save Manor Place terrace,  a campaigning leaflet from the Walworth Society seeking to save the 1875 Victorian buildings on Manor Place, Walworth from demolition – ‘some of the last remaining Victorian buildings constructed on the site of the Royal Surrey Gardens‘. Details here and here:


2) Southwark Council notice of Outline Application for the ‘demolition of all existing structures and bridges and redevelopment to provide a mixed-use development comprising of a number of buildings…between 2300 (min) and 2462 (max) residential units... at ‘the Heygate Estate and the surrounding land bound by New Kent Rd, Rodney Place and Rodney Rd,  Wansey St, Walworth  Rd and Elephant Rd“. Details here:

Nice to see Lend Lease and Soundings supporting moves to stop the trashing of the Walworth by developers.

You get me? *-)

Update: July 12th – both Manor Place leaflets now not in the window.

Consultation Is A Hoax! Local people speak out.

Soundings / LendLease The Hub aka The Snub – Abandon All Hope Ye Who Dare To Enter!
Earlier this month, local residents and campaigners submitted a great pointed letter of complaint to Soundings who have been managing the consultations for Lend Lease’s regeneration of  Elephant and Castle. The letter was also sent to Sarah Gaventa, who has been the Chair of the LendLease created (and so entirely toothless and merely going through the motions) Regeneration Forum. The full letter is below:

                 Dear Soundings

Re: Elephant and Castle Regeneration Consultation

We are writing to you because we feel that there has been a serious misrepresentation of the amount of affordable housing to be built in Phase 2 of the Heygate redevelopment during the preplanning consultation that Soundings has conducted.

At both the exhibition in February and the Housing Workshop on 29th Jan the local community was told that Lendlease would be submitting an outline planning application that would include 25% affordable housing. This has proved not to be the case; instead Lendlease will only be building ‘as much affordable housing as is financially viable….’ This is in both the Planning Statement and the Housing Statement (8.1.4). The planning case officer has confirmed that the 25% minimum is not part of the application.

We will not labour the significance of this – instead of a guaranteed minimum of 600 affordable homes this development, when complete, could have no affordable housing at all. However whether this is good or bad is not the point of our complaint – it is that local community has been given no opportunity to gives its opinion on the true proposals.

Pre-planning consultation is part of the planning process. A report on the number of meetings, attendance etc. is usually part of the planning application. This report should now state that the local community was neither informed nor consulted about the amount of affordable housing and this should be taken into consideration by the planning committee. As the facilitator of the consultations we believe that it is Soundings responsibility to make sure this happens.

Yours sincerely

Jerry Flynn (ex Heygate resident, Elephant Amenity Network member)
Peter Stevenson (Crossway Church, Heygate Estate)
Adrian Glasspool (Heygate resident, EAN member)
Mark Tubbs (local resident)
Paul McGann (local resident, EAN member)
Lindon Rankin (local resident)
Katherine McNeil (local resident, EAN member)
Steve Lancashire (local resident, EAN member)
Chris Morris (local resident, EAN member)
Celia Cronin (Balfour St, EAN member)
Liliana Dmitrovic (Peoples Republic of Southwark)
M Pathmnabhan (Rockingham Estate)
Peter Davis (local resident)
Richard Lee (local resident, EAN member)
Jon Dennison (local resident, EAN member)
Hector Castells (local resident)
Luke Miller (local resident, EAN member)

Soundings Reply:

Thank you for your letter of 29 May in connection with the Elephant and Castle Consultation. I forwarded this immediately to Lend Lease for their comment. The response from Mr Deck is that the 25% provision set out in the Regeneration Agreement with Southwark Council remains unaltered and whilst it may not be mentioned specifically in the Planning Statement or Housing Statement it is specifically referenced in the Draft Section 106 Heads of Terms in the Application.  The public consultation events associated with this application have all reiterated the provision of a minimum of 25% Affordable Housing. Given the above explanation we believe that the consultation has been adequate and appropriate. I do hope this throws some light on the matter and I am sorry if the application documents have led to any confusion.

Kind regards
Steve McAdam

Jerry Flynn: ‘Nit-picking by Soundings and Lendlease cannot alter the fact that the promised minimum of 25% affordable housing is not guaranteed by the outline Heygate Masterplan application nor the fact that there has been no consultation with the local community about anything less than 25%.  This would require  2 simple questions being put to people – ‘are you happy with less than 35% affordable housing (the policy minimum)?’ and ‘are you happy with less than 25% affordable housing (the Lendlease promise)?’  The lack of consultation on this is good grounds for objections to the application.’