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South London Students occupy arts college against gentrification plans

STUDENTS are occupying a south London arts college to demand that management withdraws its backing for a “disastrous” plan for luxury housing.

The London College of Communication (LCC) is in line for a new building as part of redevelopment plans wiping out the iconic Elephant and Castle shopping centre.

Last week, Southwark Council planners knocked back the £3 billion scheme, which includes 1,000 homes, over concerns about the lack of affordable housing.

But developers have not given up and another vote will be taken at a hearing on January 30.

Students at the college, which is part of University of the Arts London (UAL) and used to be known as the London College of Printing, started a sit-in yesterday night against the university’s participation in the scheme.

UAL students union campaigns officer Sahaya James said today: “UAL must stop supporting gentrification and back out of this disastrous plan.”

The college said it could be “forced to leave Elephant and Castle” if the redevelopment did not go ahead.

A UAL spokesman said the college understood the plan was “complex” and “respects individuals’ right to express their opinions and the democratic process of planning.”

The college carried out “extensive internal consultation among students and staff” and received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback, the spokesman said.

But Labour Students vice-chair Lara McNeill, who lives nearby, told the Star: “It is galling to see UAL claim that this redevelopment is in the interests of students. Projects like this one will push students and workers alike out of the area.

“We have a moral duty to turn the tide against this agenda, which puts the interests of spivs and speculators ahead of our community. It’s great to see students taking a stand.”


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