Tag Archives: southwark council


TL;DR: Fragments of Old Kent Rd histories / long rant on what’s planned for the area / job losses & luxury towers / We took photos of everything that will go



Oh Old Kent Rd. Old Kent Rd. Damn! It’s just not a place you should fuck with. Of our manky generation, we heard of, or were at, the Dun Cow, the Frog & Nightgown, The Gin Palace, drinking with soul boys then later House and Garage heads. Wild Irish republican parties on Swanley House, Kinglake Estate in the early 90’s. Squatted parties at The Metro Club that’s now the Nigerian mosque or at the squatted terrace on Malt St demolished for the ASDA. Watching half-decent hippy band Ring at the Domville Grove Free Festival in probably ’85. The Ambulance Station squat in the old Fire Station opposite big Tescos was damn well good and lots of good indie band or experimental music gigs. Of course, squatting looms large in this history because of the amazingly organised work of the Squatters Network of Walworth offices at 362 Old Kent Rd. Later when they were reborn as Southwark Homeless Information Project at 612, there was the communal meal and meeting every Tuesday. Baked potatoes and baked beans once a week and planning squatters aid and advice. Spent time resisting evictions on Friary Estate Or Coopers Estate or Rockingham Estate. So many estates and there were just so many empty flats as the Council was shit at getting new tenants in. Usually squatters got along with tenants and worked together but some times they didn’t. No drama.

Old Kent Rd Development Map May 2019

Remembering too the haunted Thomas A Beckett pub and boxing gym above but never went there unlike Henry Cooper, Muhammad Ali and David Bowie oddly enough. Or see the Drive-In KFC or the huge inflatable Ronald McDonald atop the McD’s at 518 OKR in the early 90s. You can see the pumped up Ronald in Patrick Keiller’s totally top film London (1994). Or borrowing African music LP’s from North Peckham Library and taping them and finding a love there in those vibes. Remembering Carters Tool Hire or South London Pistons. We didn’t remember the model of the man who lifted his hat on Carters & Sons men’s outfitters and men’s hats. Way before our time but then just the other day we went past the famous London Chroming Company that’s still there. Just about. Or there was the beautiful concrete Clover Diaries sign at 201 Old Kent Rd now gone with the demolition. Or The Word Turned Upside Down pub and how happy that made us because the name signals the song and the awesome Christopher Hill book from 1972 full of Levellers and Ranters and Diggers from Civil War England 1649 and the books subtitle ‘Radical Ideas During the English Revolution’. Sweet!

BONAMY ESTATE estate 1991
Bonamy Estate, SE16 in 1991 – Now Demolished


Then there was the Old Kent Rd Gasworks and the famous gasometers and that amazing history of working people organising early trade unionism there around 1889. Or what about the crazy concrete flyover at the other end of the OK Rd? Or the massive Bricklayers Arms railway freight depot? We remember the night of January 17th 1991 when the first UK-backed bombs rained down on Baghdad live on the telly. We were out with a spraycan at 2am painting up on all the hoardings around as yet undeveloped sites. On the fence around the place that would become B+Q we let rip and sprayed ‘No War But The Class War’. The same on the old coach site at Verney Rd. That was us then living on the Bonamy Estate just off the Old Kent Rd in 1990, a site for sore eyes and petty badness. Tales that we can never tell. The estate was sinking into the ground. Half derelict by the time we lived there but it was a home. By 1992 we had moved on. Walworth. Switched gears. Absolutely brilliant. Here endeth one or two people’s version of OKR historical fragments. Yours will be probably be a whole different but just as varied…

Bianca Rd / Glengall Rd / Latona Rd, SE15



So much of what we described above had gone in, what you could call, the first wave of developer frenzy circa late 90’s to mid 2000’s. Demolition of all those great landmarks and oddities along the way as you rode the bus up to The Elephant. Those days were a bit more simple for the Old Kent Rd as it was still the most famous of the cheapest brown cards in Monopoly with a land value pegged forever at cheapo cheapo £60. It was a long and linear local working class neighbourhood with shops locals need and, you know what, it still is. Constantly changing but always affordable. Genuinely diverse in population, it’s incredible. Check out this recent piece by our fave food writer Jonathan Nunn on the rapidly emerging multi-ethnic ‘restaurant communities’and café businesses keeping it real along the top end of the Road. It’s a super piece and unafraid to talk political economy alongside plenty pho and boureks: ‘The communities on the Old Kent Road have fought existential threats for years rather than months — resisting gentrification, sustained immigration raids, an inhumane immigration policy that keeps restaurants struggling to find chefs, the ever-looming regeneration of the area, the greed of landlords pricing them out’.

But by the 2000’s with Southwark Council going for broke to rejig the area under the guise of ‘regeneration’ the area was ennobled with the title ‘An Opportunity Area’ aka The Kiss of Death. Read that sentence again as ‘Everything Must Go!’ and so it became Official. By 2010 there was the Old Kent Rd Area Action Plan that identified 36 potential sites of new housing all up and down the Road. By 2017 the plans had mushroomed, gone loco and become enormous. The new plans for the Old Kent Road now promised us local types 20,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs. A lot of this was premised profit-wise on the development of two new Bakerloo line stations somewhere near Tescos and then one more at Asylum Rd. Property developers who had been wining and dining top Council bods in swanky brasseries for years were now trembling over dessert at the thought of all that money raining down on them. The only problems were that any promised ‘affordable’ housing would not be in any way ‘affordable’ and what to do with all those people who were actually still grafting here there and everywhere along the Road.

The incredible Vital OKR folks wrote the ‘Old Kent Road area is home to nearly 1,000 businesses that are integral to London’s dynamic economy. Here there is a vibrant civic life and a remarkable diversity of enterprise. This place is thriving, providing work for around 10,000 people. We want the miracle to be recognised, celebrated, embraced and nurtured’. Now ain’t that the truth. Anyone who lives close to the Old Kent Rd knows that the streets and industrial estates down the bottom end of the road are a traditional working landscape. What do you see? Well, business after business in light industrial units. People working. Things being made. Deliveries going out. These kind of areas ain’t pretty although in their own way they are! They are what they are though – places of employment vital to both workers and London as a site of industry and business. They are just-in-time services such as printers, logistics and couriers, studio space provides a home for burgeoning bespoke manufacture and arts and craft production plus light manufacturing spaces. Despite some paper thin reassurances that any new development would respect the 1000 businesses, it’s clear to see that the OKR plans are more about creating a ‘Central London’ housing zone of more of the same 1 or 2 bed luxury flats with some ‘affordable’ houses clustered round the new towers. Vital OKR’s research shows that ‘currently vacant and available land equates to only 1.25% of the Opportunity Area, where as existing economic uses account for over 30% of the current land use’. Vital OKR advocates a sensible policy of zero net loss of industrial land in the London Borough of Southwark.


Old Kent Rd / Sandgate St / Ruby St, SE15


As a clear indication of what is to come, we can point to the fate of a few particular development plans. Where as in the late 80’s the Council policy was to cluster big box chains in Retail Parks along the Road, with the new Gold Rush in the Wild West Old Kent Rd, those sites are now destined to become mostly housing despite those retail parks being actually super useful for local people who take the trip to Argos, B&Q, Currys etc. But no, says Southwark, they must be developed as housing with a sprinkling of commercial premises at the edges. At Southernwood Retail Park, the one by Tescos, the plans are for ‘a mixed-use development of 725 residential units, with a hotel, cinema, shops, restaurants and offices’. It’s a monster development completely out of character with the low level housing and shops around it. The plans for Malt Street near to Asda are even more enormous with ‘a mixed use development, including 1,300 homes and 7,000 sqm of commercial space’ being planned. There are many questions being asked by planners and architects and also local critics like us (and other campaigners!) about how actually socially useful and sustainable these high tower are. Lynne Sullivan from a Sustainable By Design write that ‘these towers are often privatised vertical cities that essentially operate as safety deposit boxes for foreign investment. Towers can’t replicate the vibrancy of public realm or the liveability of streets. They have more negatives than positives and there are better density models’. Large towers without massive infrastructure investment in reducing huge pulls on externally generated energy produce huge detrimental environmental effects. Frightening also is that life expectancy for new high towers ranges from 40 to 60 years only. Imagine knocking down a structurally sound pub built in 1888 to construct a new building with an estimated life of just half of the old pub’s existence.

For sure, no one is arguing here that London doesn’t need more housing but two things strike us:

1) See everything we ever wrote in the last ten years about how these development plans make big promises for local people re: ‘affordable’ housing or new social rented units or community gains and how these promises aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Already 35% Campaign are reporting that Berkeley Homes, the developer at Malt St, is making noises about reducing the ‘affordable’ housing percentage even though there are already serious concerns that promised social rented flats will be delivered as the more expensive ‘affordable rent’ tenure.

2) Again, as we’ve repeated to the point of brain fever, that once you bring in loads of expensive housing to an area the knock on effect is like a slow to medium tsunami of displacement. By this we mean that expensive housing raises local private and commercial rents and people and businesses are forced to move out. If we take Peckham as a case study, we can see that the arrival of the Overground was one of the reasons why private rents went ballistic and why new developments are arriving as if overnight. The arrival of the Bakerloo will be just the same at the OKR. We must also be vigilant about the fate of the Ledbury Estate right on OKR which was subject to rehousing of tenants as the towers were structurally compromised. Although after much pressure from Ledbury Estate Action Group, Southwark have promised to keep the blocks as council housing, with development pressure on and the massive land values of the Ledbury site, we should all hold Southwark to that promise.

Ledbury Estate August 2020

A response to the Council’s Old Kent Road Draft Area Action Plan by the awesome OKRPeople Network wrote We feel that overall the AAP does not adequately reflect the specificity of the Old Kent Road area. The Plan’s vision of the future is unimaginative and “cut-and-paste,” as evidenced by the claim that the OKR will become “increasingly part of central London.” The OKR is distinctive, and the aim of the AAP should be to enhance this distinctiveness. A thriving industrial base, genuinely affordable (social) housing, sustainable and diverse communities, migrant and ethnic businesses, a community-oriented cultural offer – these are the elements that make the OKR what it is, that make it attractive to the people who live and work here, and that give it a purpose in the wider London economy’.

They also point out that ‘the biggest housing need in Southwark is for genuinely affordable housing, which is to say social housing. According to the Council’s own assessment, 79% of Southwark’s housing need could only be met by social rented housing, and 21% by intermediate housing’. There is already a ton of intermediate housing in the borough as this is what has been making up a lot of developments commitments to ‘affordable’ house construction under the current planning regime policies. Importantly OKRPeople write that the ‘Area Action Plan should thus make social housing construction its priority, and yet there is no clear commitment to the number of social housing units that will be built, or to how they will be financed’. This is a top point as the corrupt state of ‘The Economy’, itself somewhat of a fiction or ‘vast hostage situation*’ that we’re supposed to believe in although it’s entirely out of our hands sadly, does mean that projections of construction and profits are now subject to a major panic in boardrooms across the World.

Will be interesting to see how global real estate markets fare locally as we go into the long expected major recession with mass unemployment and further rounds of austerity. But let’s not bank on this saving the OKR as the real truth is any financial crisis is that those who have the most still gain the most with bailouts and the shifting of their private debts into the public purse. Not only this scenario but the Government’s intended ripping up of current planning regulations in total favour of developers might make our current OKR Gold Rush look like a an afternoon out window shopping at Gerald Ratners!

To save time, the sturdy and committed 35% Campaign have written extensively here and here and here about the coming wave of luxury housing developments and all the intrigue and bullshit that goes with it. Your weekly reminder too that all of this pro-developer malarkey is happily waved through by your local Labour-run Southwark Council.


Ormside St / Penarth St and environs, SE15


Any road up, all this as a really long way to say that, we and our mate Martin Dixon wanted to make sure what ever happens that there is a solid record of what is here and there now. So we took a lovely very hot summer day walk from the Peckham side of the OKR (Bianca Rd / Latona Rd) to the Rotherhithe side (Ilderton Rd via backstreets by the Gasometers) and snapped away like crazy! Just like our recent page on Bermondsey where we are tried to capture those commercial sites that will undoubtedly be knocked on the head in favour of posh flats, we are doing the same here but on a much much larger scale. Along the way, we found empty sites and sites now taken over in the meanwhile by, first numerous evangelical churches and, more recently, artists, artists studios and art businesses. It remains an amazing terrain to mooch about. You should do it.

OKR-Vacant-land-without-statsVital OKR’s MAP of COMMERCIAL USAGE OF LAND

Not much to say to end on, except that when London is just one large landscape of luxury towers dominated by the mostly dire subjectivities of new build homeowners then we can only wonder what on Earth we are doing here. Like our opening fragments of some of our histories along the Old Kent Rd, there is so much here that we should be defending. Not only shops and stuff but really our way of life. Different ways of life among us all for sure but as a working class neighbourhood there is something we all have in common. Simply put the rich will fuck us. As said above, Oh Old Kent Rd. Old Kent Rd. Damn! It’s just not a place you should fuck with.


* ‘Vast hostage situation’ is a term used by the excellent writer Phil A Neel in his book ‘Hinterland: America’s New Landscape of Class & Conflict’, (2018)

Sobre Retrasos y Delancey – Destruyamos mitos sobre el Centro Comercial Elephant & Castle

Sobre Retrasos y Delancey – Destruyamos mitos sobre el Centro Comercial

Delancey está culpando de los retrasos de sus planes en el centro comercial y de la reubicación de los comerciantes a la demanda legal planteada por residentes. A continuación respondemos a Delancey.

-Delancey dice:

-El Recurso Judicial (JR, en inglés) está retrasando los planes de desarrollo urbano.

-Nosotros decimos:

-La negativa de Delancey a la hora de proporcionar viviendas sociales es lo que está causando retrasos. En su proyecto inicial de 2016, Delancey no ofrecía auténticas viviendas sociales. Residentes y comerciantes tuvieron que pelear por DOS AÑOS para conseguir vivienda social; conseguimos algunas concesiones, pero aún no son suficientes. Delancey nos ha obligado a continuar nuestra batalla en los tribunales – Delancey es el causante del retraso.

-Delancey dice:

-El Recurso Judicial está retrasando la reubicación de los comerciantes.

-Nosotros decimos:

-Nada impide a Delancey para que ayude a reubicar a los comerciantes, con independencia del recurso judicial. Algunos comerciantes ya han sido reubicados en Perronet House. Otros tienen espacio en Castle Sq. Estos se consiguieron gracias a la Asociación de Comerciantes de Elephant, Latin Elephant y la campaña Up the Elephant. Pero muchos otros comerciantes han sido excluidos. Estamos peleando con los comerciantes para conseguir más espacio comercial en Sayer Street, que pertenece a Lendlease. Southwark Law Centre ha tomado el caso en representación de los comerciantes.

-Delancey dice:

-El Recurso Judicial significa que el dinero del Fondo para la Reubicación de los comerciantes no puede utilizarse.

-Nosotros decimos:

-No habría un Fondo para la Reubicación de los comerciantes si los residentes no lo hubieran reclamado. Nada impide que Delancey utilice este dinero para ayudar a los comerciantes en el proceso de reubicación, con independencia del recurso judicial.

El Fondo para la Reubicación forma parte del Plan de Reubicación para los comerciantes. Delancey no tenía plan de reubicación en su proyecto inicial en 2016, y se negó a tener uno hasta que obtuvo finalmente la licencia urbanística en 2018, dejando a los comerciantes en una situación de incertidumbre y sin posibilidades de planear el futuro de sus pequeños negocios. El fondo sólo tiene £634.700

-Delancey dice:

-El Recurso Judicial está retrasando Castle Square.

-Nosotros decimos:

-No. Castle Square es un proyecto diferente con un acuerdo legal s106 distinto. Delancey puede construirlo tan pronto como desee. Delancey no tenía una propuesta para un espacio temporal para los comerciantes en su proyecto inicial. Castle Square se consiguió gracias a los comerciantes y residentes después de dos años batallando.

-Delancey dice:

-El Recurso Judicial ha ‘paralizado’ el acuerdo legal s106.

-Nosotros decimos:

-El acuerdo legal s106 es un contrato voluntario entre Delancey, el Ayto. de Southwark y University Arts London (UAL) para la construcción del nuevo proyecto. Todos ellos tienen control absoluto sobre el contrato; no han sido forzados a firmarlo. Han decidido paralizar el acuerdo al ser demandados en los tribunales.

Elephant JR Tweet

Lea más sobre RETRASOS Y DELANCEY (en inglés) – 35percent.org/2019-06-15-delays-and-delancey/

Ponte en contacto con nosotros y sigue Up The Elephant:



Facebook – ‘Up The Elephant’



Why the ‘Up The Elephant’ Campaign is going for a Judicial Review

The post below is the text of a leaflet that Up The Elephant community campaign is currently giving to all traders in the Elephant Shopping Centre to tell them why we are going for a Judicial Review (JR) of Delancey’s housing plans for the area. It’s a direct response to this tweet from Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Business and Innovation where she made an unnecessary PR opportunity with some of the traders. If traders are worried about the forthcoming JR then we hope to set their minds at rest and to point the finger directly back to Delancey. We support all traders in the Shopping Centre and the Campaign is accountable to all traders through our monthly meetings! JR not PR!

Cryan JR PR


Elephant & Castle
Shopping Centre Myth Buster

Elephant JR Tweet

Delancey have been blaming the forthcoming legal challenge mounted by local campaigners Up The Elephant for delays to the redevelopment of the shopping centre and the relocation of the traders. We answer Delancey below.

Delancey Says: The Judicial Review (JR) is delaying the development

We Say: Delancey’s refusal to provide enough social housing is what is causing any delay. Delancey did not have real social rented housing in its original planning application in 2016.   Local people and traders had to fight Delancey for TWO YEARS to get social housing; we got some, but there still is not enough. Delancey have forced us to continue our fight in the courts –Delancey is causing the delay.

Delancey Says: The Judicial Review is delaying relocation of traders.

We Say: Nothing is stopping Delancey from helping relocate traders, despite the JR. Some traders have already been relocated to Perronet House. Traders have also been allocated space in Castle Sq. This was space won by Elephant Traders Association, Latin Elephant and the Up the Elephant campaign. But many traders are being left out. We are fighting with traders to get more retail space on Sayer St, owned by developer Lendlease. Southwark Law Centre has taken up the case on traders’ behalf.

Delancey Says: The Judicial Review means money from the relocation fund cannot be spent

We Say: There would be no relocation fund if campaigners had not demanded it. Nothing stops Delancey from spending this money to help traders relocate, despite the JR. The relocation fund is part of the relocation strategy. Delancey had no relocation strategy in its original planning application in 2016 and refused to have one until it got planning permission in 2018, leaving traders insecure and without any way to plan for the future of their businesses. The fund has only £634,700.


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June 2019 – Castle Square planned box park thing currently not being built vs the Delancey vision

Delancey Says:
The Judicial Review is delaying Castle Square

We Say: No. Castle Square is a different development with a different legal s106 agreement. Delancey can build it as soon as it likes. Delancey had no proposals for a temporary space for traders in its original planning application. Castle Square was won by traders and local people after two years of battle.

Delancey Says: The Judicial Review has ‘frozen’ the s106 Agreement

We Say: The legal s106 agreement is a voluntary contract for the delivery of the redevelopment between Delancey, Southwark Council and the University of the Arts London (UAL). They have complete control of this; they were not forced to sign it. They decided to freeze the agreement if they were challenged in court.

(A Spanish language version of this leaflet is coming soon!)

Read 35% Campaign’s full account here on the Elephant Shopping Centre and Delancey  DELAYS AND DELANCEY:

“To sum up, we have little doubt that had Delancey presented the improved scheme that it presented to the planning committee on 3 July 2019 at the very first scheduled planning committee meeting, back on 18 December 2017, it would have been approved and any legal challenge long resolved. Delancey could then have saved the crocodile tears it is currently shedding on behalf of the traders.”



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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!!



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.



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!!


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.

lcc occ 1

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.

lcc occ 2

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“.

lcc occ 3


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:



What Do We Mean When We Say ‘The Council’?

After many years of writing about Southwark Council and its policies and plans we thought it might be useful to say what we mean when we say ‘the Council’. That’s because with friends of ours working in the Council and with reports that Southwark Notes is often seen in passing on the computer screens of Southwark administrative workers, when we say ‘the Council’ we know that such a body is made up of more than those who lead and direct it’s regeneration policies.

When we say ‘the Council’ we know there are hundreds of Southwark workers who have nothing to do with making decisions to decant the Heygate or who aren’t making deals with housing associations to demolish the Aylesbury. We know there are hundreds of workers who have no say or part in the decision to approve planning applications for more luxury flats in The Elephant or Peckham or Rotherhithe. We know that all those workers are powerless in most ways to prevent the knock on effects of more and more expensive property as local private and business rents shoot ever skyward.


Like any workplace, the majority of people are working hard to enable them to pay the rent, to buy food, to buy stuff and to survive each month. They aren’t super well paid for this daily grind. Working for the Council can be stressful, alienating, total pressure as bureaucrats above, managers above, Cabinet members above seek to put into place Council policy and Council responses to what’s happening across the Borough. Part of this is the inevitable top-down bullshit of any workplace. We know enough Council workers in enough departments to know that decisions get passed down from managers that just seem stupid, ill thought through or arbitrary. That’s not to say there’s not excellent managers in the different Council department and services but to recognise that often for many workers they are simply doing the job they are told to do.

So when we write or say ‘the Council’ in regards to the ‘regeneration’ and gentrification of Southwark, we are not referring to some monolithic machine. We know there are loads of workers there who don’t agree with what’s happening in the realms of regeneration and think it’s ridiculous and wrong to pursue such social cleansing. We know there are loads of workers who actually live in either Council homes that could be affected by demolition and displacement or who live locally in private rented homes where the landlords are increasing the rents almost bi-annually. We know there are loads of Council workers who want their own children to be able to afford to rent or buy locally but who know that such an option is becoming more and more unlikely. We even know a few Council workers who moved out of the Borough as their wages could no longer cover local rents in Southwark!



For us Southwark Notes folks, and for all the other local campaigners against the disasters of this ‘regeneration’ regime, well, we have jobs and commitments too. Some of us have families that we care for, both locally and further afield. For the Council big-wigs, It might seem like we have nothing better to do than scrutinise them and try to hold them accountable for what they are and aren’t doing. Well, we are proud to say that very far from being ‘keyboard warriors’, we are active across many local societies and TRA’s, amenity and service groups, community centres as well as having deep and long term connections to where we live in Southwark. We do what we do, day in and day out because we love where we live and we love all those great people we work with. We say it all the time – we are not against change in Southwark out of some bloody mindedness. Our website has clearly stated from day one: ‘We don’t think it’s wrong to demand that a regeneration scheme enhances the quality of our lives. We don’t think it’s wrong to oppose gentrification. In this way it turns out that our negativity is really only a mask for our positive wish for all of us to live our lives free from those who pretend to act in our interests but are only ever about giving even more of what we’ve got away to those who already have too much!


The local politics we all do is always much more in depth and dynamic than the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Labour and LibDem arguments. We have probably zero faith in any of these political parties, if we ever did in the first place. For Labour, local campaigns are viewed as a pain in the ass that just won’t bow down to some supposed ‘mandate’ they have from an average of 35% turnout in ward elections. If it wasn’t for the Information Commissioners Office, the GLA or Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, they would happily continue to ignore the numerous scandals, outrages and arrogance that all we Southwark campaigns post online week by week.

For LibDems, we have no idea what they want as they have been a useless opposition to Heygate and Aylesbury estate clearances and local luxury property developments. Seeing as one of the most rapidly understood realities by Londoners in the last few years has been how local Council’s love-ins with private housing market has been a disaster for age-old communities, you would think they would be banging on about this a bit more aggressively. But strangely, no!



As we always say, it’s really up to us. By this we mean the local campaigns, the TRA’s, the local park supporters, the community centres, the volunteer groups, the pensioners groups, the youth clubs and so on to keep defending what we have and what we don’t want to give away to property developers. It’s up to us and we won’t be stopping anytime soon.


So when we write or say ‘the Council’, we are saying it’s up to Council workers too to be part of this local opposition in whatever way you can. We reserve our contempt for those Cabinet Members, executive officers and Councillors who are the main engine of regeneration as it plays out locally. You know, the kind of Council representatives who seem all nice and caring in public (on the TV or in the newspapers) but when they come to the community they treat them with a contempt they themselves are mostly unable to see. Just ask Ledbury tenants right now for the difference in behaviour from the night of their delegation to the Town Hall when councilors acted like their saviours and how they are actually being treated by councilors and housing managers day to day.

Any road up, we’ve had a few titbits, rumours and the occasional leak* passed our way from Council workers and that’s been helpful. When this happens we are always grateful. But we mean more than just this. We mean that local Council workers in whatever capacity they can act, can be part of opposing phony regeneration schemes and the disastrous social cleansing policies of ‘the Council’. What this looks like on the ground, in Council offices, in Tooley St, on the street, in the unions or local party branches etc we just don’t know. We’re just hoping to reach out and tell you what we mean when we write or say ‘the Council’.

You can contact us at elephantnotes(at)yahoo.co.uk
Follow us on Twitter @SouthwarkNotes



Concrete Action is a platform to provide support for architecture and planning professionals and communities fighting for housing in London. They say ‘If you have access to information which you believe is being wrongfully withheld from the public, we are here for you. Whistle-blowing has a proud history of helping to create change! By speeding up the availability of information through direct action it creates pressure on the existing system – we are not against development in principle, but we want development for and with all residents of the city. If you have information the public ought to know, please get in touch. Do not send us information which has been obtained by criminal means, personal information about you or anyone else, or any other information which it would not be in the public interest to publish’.

See here for how.

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