Elephant and Castle regeneration project faces Court of Appeal challenge

A new appeal against the approval of a shopping centre regeneration project in Elephant and Castle was granted by the Court of Appeal last week.

A coalition of campaigners obtained the permission to challenge Southwark Council’s approval for the demolition and redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre.

The appeal follows an unsuccessful High Court challenge when Justice Dove refused to invalidate the developer’s planning approval after a two-day hearing last year.

Up the Elephant campaigner Jerry Flynn, who obtained the two permissions, said: “The High Court rejected our claim and the Court of Appeal will now consider whether the High Court made the right decision.

“We are campaigning for the planning permission to be quashed, so that more social rented housing can be built.”

More than £8,000 were raised to support the new legal challenge through CrowJustice appeal.

Campaigners believed Southwark Council’s planning committee was misled as to the maximum amount of affordable housing developer Delancey could viably provide.

They questioned Delancey’s planning scheme which includes the construction of 116 social rented homes to be built in around 10 years’ time.

The amount represents a fraction of the nearly one thousand homes that will be built in the new development.

Flynn said: “Southwark is not getting as much as social rented housing from Delancey as it should be, while the need for it has become even more acute.

“Delancey are not building the homes and new shops that local people need.”

The case raises a number of legal issues regarding the way local councils are handling housing developments affecting the democratic process in planning law.

Public Interest Law Centre solicitor Paul Heron said: “Southwark Council, and many councils like them, are failing to maximise social housing in these developments.

“Councillors are failing in their duties — far too much power is being given to unelected council officials in the decision-making process.”

Campaigners also lamented that the council is allowing the construction of luxury housing in the middle of a housing crisis.

Southwark Defend Council Housing campaigner Tanya Murat urged councillors to put the needs of homeless and low paid residents above the need of developers.

She said: “Southwark Council should now listen to the views of its own residents instead of throwing yet more money on lawyers to prop up the mega profits of its friends in the development industry.”

A spokesperson for Delancey said: “We were disappointed to receive the decision of the Court of Appeal allowing an appeal to be made against the decision of the High Court last December.

“However, we remain committed to delivering a new town centre and will continue to keep the community updated via our website, newsletter and regular community forum meetings.”

The shopping centre closed on 24 September and the building will be knocked down.

There are around 40 small independent traders who were left without relocation, according to Latin Elephant charity.

Latin Elephant co-director Santiago Peluffo said: “We will continue to work towards relocation for those traders left out of the process.”

Southwark officers and cabinet members are now working on setting up a market near Metro Central Heights, a location welcomed by traders.

Peluffo added: “However, some key practicalities mainly with regards to the structure of the spaces needed to be sorted out, as permanent kiosks are paramount for the traders.” 

Southwark council’s planning committee chair Martin Seaton was contacted for a comment.

No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Featured image credit: Public Interest Law Centre

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