A STUDENT occupation has stalled plans to bulldoze London’s Elephant & Castle shopping centre to make way for luxury flats.
The activists, who have finished a week-long occupation at London College of Communication (LCC), are claiming victory after Southwark Council accepted a delay to the development on Tuesday night.
Property developer Delancey is working with the college, part of University Arts London (UAL), on plans to build 1,000 homes, offices and a new campus on the historic site.
Campaigners have warned the plans will not only see the shopping centre, its bingo hall and bowling alley demolished but will also evict 70 local businesses.
The Stop the Elephant Development campaign group points out that only 3 per cent of the homes will be social housing.
This is despite the council’s planning policy stating that all housing developments should provide a minimum of 35 per cent affordable housing, half of which (17.5 per cent) should be available at social rents.
The student occupiers believe developers tried to exploit a common loophole used in housing developments that allows them to avoid building the recommended number of social housing if partnered with not-for-profit organisations.
In this case, the not-for-profit organisation is LCC and is why the plans included a new campus for the college, the students argued.
Delancey and UAL decided this week to stall the development to submit improvements to the project.
UAL students union campaigns officer Sahaya James said: “The deferral should be seen as a victory for the campaigns that have worked tirelessly to fight the sweeping gentrification in Southwark.
“This has proven that direct action and putting pressure on LCC’s reputation worked.
“Delancey and UAL realised that they would not have been able to receive approval for the project in its current form and have scrambled to make improvements.
“However, we shouldn’t be taking this as a sign to be complacent. We must keep on holding them to account and push for genuine social housing and a plan which will truly benefit the community. There is still work to be done.”
Delancey and UAL had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to press.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.