Last week the new Labour Council of Southwark entered into a deal with Elephant and Castle developer Lend Lease. The new deal shows how keen the new council are in progressing with plans for the urgently needed development in the Elephant area. The Liberal Democrat Council which preceded it must be said dithered and delayed the project for 8 years. Now the new Labour administration have come in and over 8 weeks have rushed out a deal, which is a lot more promising and better for the area. SE1.com have a great interview with Peter John, the new leader of Southwark Council. In it he explains the main differences between this new agreement and the heads of terms the previous Lib Dem council and Lend Lease signed last November.
The main points that came across were these:
The new deal secures a minimum of 25% affordable housing, whereas the Lib Dem deal had no social housing built into their agreement they were prepared to sign. Labour have guaranteed social homes at Elephant & Castle against the Lib Dems who wanted a guaranteed profit in 15 years time. The new council believe they will still get profit out of the scheme and have taken the political decision to guarantee affordable housing over profit.
Southwark Council through this new deal also have a commitment from Lend Lease to underwrite any compulsory purchase order that the council has to bring against St Modwen to acquire the shopping centre. Peter John however, did state he was hopeful St Modwen and Lend Lease will reach an agreement before that has to happen, noting that the two developers have met 3 or 4 times since the 6th of May, a big change since before the elections, meaning the new council have brought new political impetus to the scheme.
The new labour leadership also considered a future for the leisure centre at the site, again something which the Lib Dems were not prepared to sign in their agreement. A short consultation on this will go out soon where they have changed the recommendations within the deal to specifically include a swimming pool within the plans.
The issues surrounding Tfl and the tube station upgrades remain ongoing; although they are confident they will soon reach an agreement.
Lend Lease and Southwark will work together over the next 18 months on a masterplan and planning applications, demolition should start to get underway towards the end of the year, and by 2014 the ‘re-birth’ of the Elephant should be in full-swing. Another interesting point Peter John made was that the scheme will pull regeneration from the north of the borough, southwards and even more drastically pull the centre of London, southwards. For the full interview, follow this link.
The new deal Southwark and Lend Lease have agreed too seems rather promising for Elephant & Castle with the new Labour council looking much more pro-active than their Lib Dem predecessors. Now lets hope they count for action rather than just words which is all it is at this stage; the people of Elephant & Castle deserve it.