Stephen Platts, Head of Property
Stephen Platts, Head of Property (Regeneration & Neighbourhoods)
Stephen introduced his colleague Tom Branton (Project Manager).
We have come along this evening to give an update on the project at Elephant & Castle. On 7 July, the Cabinet of Southwark Council made two important decisions. The first was to enter a regeneration agreement with Lend Lease (LL), the Council’s preferred development partner. The second was to build new leisure facilities for the Elephant & Castle (E&C) on the site of the existing leisure facilities.
The regeneration agreement sets out the contractual relationship between the Council and LL for the next 15 years to deliver the E&C regeneration project. LL are an Australian development company and the third largest real estate company registered on the Dow Jones stock market. They are currently working on both Stratford and Greenwich at the moment.
If you go to the Southwark website – http://www.southwark.gov.uk/elephantandcastle
There is a document that sets out the joint vision of the Council and LL. It provides some high level indicative proposals around the plots, the master plan and the concepts behind it. It hopefully adopts all the principles that have been consulted on in the last eight years.
The agreement provides the legal structure for the development to proceed. In terms of what happens next, LL over the summer have committed to providing a consultation strategy which will be presented to the Council in three months time. We would like to come to you in the Autumn to discuss the consultation process. As part of this we are looking to establish a steering group which will be made up of key stakeholders and residents. At the moment we don’t know what that will look like and we shall work on the terms of reference with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration in the summer and we’ll bring proposals back to you.
The consultation will lead to a master plan which will form the basis of a planning application. There has been speculation that the shopping centre is not included in the regeneration agreement. It definitely is included. We have a strategy to bring forward the re-development of the shopping centre. There will be an outline planning application developed which will be submitted next year.
We are in dialogue with the current owners of the shopping centre and negotiating a memorandum of understanding, which will set out how the partners will bring forward the redevelopment of the shopping centre.
The overall scheme covers three development packages. The shopping centre, the Heygate estate and Rodney Road. There will be approximately 2,500 new homes, a minimum of 25% of which will be affordable. Of those, 50% will be social rent and 50% intermediate. There will be retail accommodation, health facilities and affordable business space. There will also be parks, urban squares, public realm and landscaping. The leisure centre does not form part of the agreement. The Council took a view that it wanted to take responsibility for delivering new leisure facilities for the E&C. We will be consulting residents on the leisure facilities and there will be a pool. We hope to come back here in October with some proposals. A decision will be made by the Council Cabinet in November.
A resident asked what sort of pool.
Stephen said this would be opened up to the public for consultation.
A resident asked what sort of deal for leaseholders.
Stephen said he could not discuss individual leaseholders but they are compensated under statute. There were about 170 leaseholders and now there are about 20 left to agree with. It is market value at the time of the acquisition.
A resident asked how much of the £1.5 billion originally planned for investment is left given the delays over the years.
Stephen said there had been delays for a range of reasons but there will still be £1.5 billion invested in the E&C. A lot of the residents who have moved out of the Heygate have a right to return. About 250 have completed the forms and have a right of return to the E&C.
A resident asked if the holistic approach of the development referred to culture and the arts also. Will there be art studios available at reasonable rent or a theatre?
Stephen said they did not envisage the consultation on leisure facilities to encompass culture. There is a limited capacity on how much they can build on the site. However there is a commitment to provide affordable business space for cultural enterprises. It won’t be on the leisure site but is more likely to be part of the Heygate master plan.
Chair said it was a good point made by the resident and was something we need to think about.
A resident asked if there were longer term plans for Southwark property in the E&C area. Is the rise of values catchable for the maintenance of buildings?
Stephen said there were no plans at the moment but they hope the regeneration would be a catalyst for the area. There will be a section 106 strategy which will provide broader benefits to the wider area. There will also be traffic and transport improvements.
A resident said they enjoy the diversity of the E&C shopping area and asked how residents can ensure there is a lively low cost shopping facility rather than a glossy, all the chains area that already exist elsewhere.
Stephen said residents should get involved. LL and the Council are committed to not creating just another cloned high street. We appreciate that the E&C is unique and has a diverse community. There will be a consultation on the master plan and there is a contractual commitment from LL to provide affordable business space.
A resident asked will the consultation be top down or will we be able to talk as a community prior to the process. We don’t want to be asking questions afterwards.
Stephen said in the Autumn we will be presenting our proposed consultation strategy. We will ask you for feedback as to whether it is the right approach. There is no perfect plan for consultation but we are open to engagement with the community and will try and make a better job of it than in the past.
A resident said that there had been some political point scoring about the two E&C schemes and was Stephen able to say both or neither were robust schemes.
Stephen said he couldn’t comment beyond saying they are different. There is a debate in the press that one is better than the other but it’s not for me to say.
A resident said the success of taking the community properly on board in consultation has been recognised world wide for any community regeneration. He added that there was hope for a robust mechanism for the local community to have a hand with yours on the tiller.
Chair said that it would be useful to see by show of hands, whether the leisure facility should include a swimming pool.
Residents by show of hands indicated strong support for a pool
Stephen said that various sites had been considered before Cabinet chose the current site on 7 July for leisure facilities.
Cllr Thornton asked if there was any information about a likely timescale on delivery of the leisure centre.
Stephen said that part of the rationale to exclude it from the regeneration agreement with LL is around speed of delivery. We would hope to go through the planning process on the leisure centre site early in 2011.
Cllr Morris asked for clarification on how it is being paid for if it’s not in the LL agreement.
Stephen said that subject to a further Council Cabinet decision it is being paid for by two means. Cash generated by the E&C agreement transaction with LL and a residential site element from the leisure centre site. The proposal is for a detached leisure box with pool gym etc and a separate residential block which will provide some cross subsidy.
A resident asked about the design of the leisure centre and reference to a box as the E&C is not gifted with fantastic architecture. How will you ensure that we get something that adds to the E&C area rather than detracting?
Stephen said Southwark is committed to high quality design and urban architecture. We will be responsible for the leisure centre. A nice public space will be created between the two buildings by separating the developments out.
We will probably look to appoint some experienced architects. We’ll be looking for quality of design, experience and value for money.
Cllr Morris said the Council currently owns the land and asked if the land would be sold to the developer in whole or part.
Stephen said the residential element would be sold off to a developer. The Council will retain ownership of the leisure centre and the public space. We still have to decide whether to proceed with one planning application for the leisure centre and residential element or if we deal with it as two separate applications.
Chair thanked Stephen for coming along.