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Historic transformation of the Elephant and Castle gets the green light

Published 7 July 2010

The Cabinet have agreed to the terms of a detailed Regeneration Agreement with commercial partners, Lend Lease, that paves the way for the historic £1.5bn transformation of the Elephant and Castle.

The decision to accept the terms of the agreement was taken at a meeting of the council's Cabinet on 7 July and is the culmination of extensive negotiation between the two organisations, for a project that was conceived over a decade ago.

The deal has been done despite the backdrop of the recession in the property market and the unprecedented government cuts to public finances. The agreement kick starts more detailed work, including demolition, planning and the building programme, that will deliver the vision of creating a brand new town centre and thriving urban quarter in the heart of central London over the next fifteen years. It will mean the demolition of the 1970s Heygate Estate to create new homes, shops, jobs and public spaces.

The project has already gained global significance following the announcement, in May 2009, that the Elephant and Castle was designated as one of only 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Program. This Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) programme, established by former US President Bill Clinton, supports the development of large-scale urban projects that demonstrate cities can grow in ways that are "climate positive." 

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, said: "I am delighted that we have come to an agreement with Lend Lease that will transform the Elephant and Castle over the next fifteen years to create a new and exciting destination for London. This agreement will mean the centre of this great world city will be pulled further south in to Southwark, with the economic and social benefits that this will bring.

"Since I became Leader in May I said that we would deliver an agreement that works for the local community. I am pleased that our discussions with Lend Lease have been so positive and we can now look forward to working cooperatively together to transform this important part of London, an area with so much potential, to the benefit of local people and for all Londoners."

Dan Labbad, CEO of Lend Lease (EMAA), said: "Lend Lease is delighted to be delivering the regeneration of Elephant and Castle. The opportunity to transform the area over the next fifteen years to provide a new focal point for London is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.  To this end we look forward to working in partnership with Southwark Council to transform the vision for Elephant and Castle to reality."

Additional information

Although the decision to accept the terms of the Regeneration Agreement have been accepted by the Cabinet, the council's constitution outlines that there must be a period of five working days to allow for any decision to be 'called in'. If it is not called in, then the decision may be implemented from 16 July.

View the Cabinet report and the supporting appendices.

Some key areas of the Regeneration Agreement include

Affordable housing

The Regeneration Agreement outlines a minimum level of 25 percent affordable housing across the development. This represents a step forward from the Heads of Terms agreement which did not state a minimum level. It is believed that the actual delivery of affordable homes will be closer to 35 percent.

Shopping Centre

The shopping centre is included in the Regeneration Agreement and the intention is to bring forward its development as it is to form part of the outline planning application along with the Heygate. There have been discussions between Lend Lease and St Modwen and a Memorandum of Understanding has been issued by Lend Lease to St Modwen for their consideration.

Leisure Centre

In a second report that was presented to Cabinet on 7 July, the Cabinet agreed to improve leisure facilities at the Elephant and Castle. After looking at different options, including nearby Stead Street, the Cabinet agreed to a proposal to develop new and improved facilities on the current Elephant and Castle leisure site. Officers will now work up more detailed proposals in consultation with the local community. It is however important to recognise that one of the primary funding sources for leisure facilities is anticipated to be payments made under the Regeneration Agreement.

Community involvement

As part of the Cabinet's drive to ensure full and meaningful consultation with the community, a steering group will be established to ensure their views are considered for the life of the project and a full and detailed consultation strategy will be worked up over the coming months in conjunction with local stakeholders and in particular the Community Councils. A management board will also be convened to govern the project and will include representatives from Southwark Council and Lend Lease.

Sustainable energy solution

Within the Cabinet report both the council and Lend Lease acknowledge that a key aspect of the regeneration is the provision of a sustainable energy solution that meets the requirements of the relevant legislation and specifically, to meet the "zero carbon emissions" standard which will be in place from 2016. Different options are being explored to ensure that this is possible.

Recommendation from the Leader and Cabinet Member for regeneration

In the introduction to the Cabinet report, the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Fiona Colley, say: "The regeneration of the Elephant and Castle is vital to the renewal of our borough.  It is a project which was conceived over a decade ago, and the decisions which we take as an administration on the proposed Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease (Elephant and Castle) Limited are likely to be some of the most significant during this term of office.  Therefore, we are delighted to present for the consideration and approval of the Cabinet recommendations on the Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease (Elephant and Castle) Ltd. 

"We are pleased to have been able to realign the outcome of the negotiations and to bring to fruition such an important milestone on a journey that started in 1999. It is very encouraging to see the recent progress that has been made and we hope that this new pace will continue to be reflected in the regeneration process going forward."

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What stage are we at with this regeneration?

A: In November 2009, Southwark Council's Executive approved the heads of terms agreement with Lend Lease. The heads of terms agreement was the result of extensive negotiations with Lend Lease, delivered against the backdrop of national recession.

That decision paved the way for the next stage of delivering the ambitious vision for the area by seeking a regeneration agreement. These discussions have been ongoing for several months and the Cabinet is now being asked to agree to the terms of a detailed regeneration agreement at its meeting on 7 July.

Q: What is the regeneration agreement?

A: The regeneration agreement is a highly complex legal document that forms the basis of a long-term relationship between the council and Lend Lease. It is not simply a more detailed heads of terms. It has been critical that appropriate consideration and advice is taken to ensure that it is fit for purpose and protects the council's interest and that it represents the best deal for local people.

Q: What are the details of the regeneration agreement?

A: The regeneration agreement is not a public document as it contains commercially sensitive information. However, the Council and Lend Lease are committed to an ongoing and open dialogue with local people to share as much information as possible.

For example, a key document is the Master Regeneration Plan (MRP) which forms an integral part of the Regeneration Agreement. The MRP is intended to communicate the strategic development proposals for the RA site at the Elephant and Castle, whilst also setting out for residents and businesses the objectives that the Council and Lend Lease are seeking to deliver and how this will contribute to the wider vision of the Elephant and Castle Opportunity Area.

Even when an agreement is reached on the RA, the MRP should be considered a draft document as it will evolve further and in more detail over time following completion of the RA and it will need to be flexible in order to take into account the requirements of the development timeline for the Elephant and Castle. However, it is a document that will be reviewed regularly by both parties at the management board as it will form the basis of the rationale behind the development for the lifetime of the project, this document will be a publicly available resource.

It is particularly important to note that the MRP not only addresses the planning and design issues but also the key strategies related to sustainability and socio-economic factors together with the ongoing estate management of the area.

View the MRP.

Q: What's happening at the Heygate Estate?

The Heygate Estate was built in the 1970s and was recently used as the backdrop for the Michael Caine film, Harry Brown. The rehousing of approximately 700 residents began in 2008. The estate is now nearly empty, with residents rehoused around the borough in new homes of their choice. There are a small number of residents who still live on the estate and they are in discussions with the council to assist them with their move. They were recently visited by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council to listen to any concerns they may have had.

Demolition is now underway on the vacant Rodney Road and Wingrave blocks, with the removal and salvage of flat contents, vermin baiting and a hygiene sweep in progress. The dismantling of the vacant buildings is expected to start later in the year following the safe disposal of any asbestos, and vermin baiting and hygiene sweeps will continue throughout the process.

Q: How are the discussions with transport for London going?

The TfL Interchange team have been undertaking a modelling exercise to appraise the impacts of anticipated development within the Elephant & Castle Opportunity Area on both the Northern line and Bakerloo London Underground stations and have been in discussions with the Council and Lend Lease about appropriate mitigation factors. This is an important exercise with implications for the Regeneration Agreement and the planning application that Lend Lease is to bring forward.

Q: What did the Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Corporate Strategy recommending to the Cabinet meeting on 7 July?

1. That Cabinet agrees to the terms of the Regeneration Agreement (RA) with Lend Lease (LL) (Elephant and Castle) Ltd for the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle as outlined in the report.

2. That Cabinet approve the disposal of housing land at the Heygate Estate to Lend Lease on the terms outlined in the RA by way of 999 year leases for premiums plus overage if applicable as set out in the closed report subject to:

2.1 the Council obtaining confirmation from the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government ("CLG") that specific consent to the transfer of housing Land will not be necessary; or,

2.2 Council Assembly's approval of an application to CLG for consent to the disposal of housing Land at less than best consideration and that consent being obtained; and,

2.3 other conditions precedent being met.

3. That Cabinet recommends to Council Assembly that it approves an application to CLG for consent to transfer the Land if such consent is necessary

4. That Cabinet agree to a minimum level of affordable housing to be delivered as part of the scheme to be 25 percent as set out in the Minimum Development Requirements.

5. In the event that negotiations to bring forward the development of the shopping centre site are unsuccessful that Cabinet instructs officers to report back to a future meeting to seek further instruction on the compulsory purchase of the site, underwritten by LL.

Q: How will the area change?

The development objectives for the Regeneration Agreement site are outlined in the MRP as follows:

The overarching objective is "to build on its strengths and overcome the weaknesses and as a result establish the Elephant & Castle as a thriving and successful urban quarter". In pursuit of this, the following development objectives have been set for the RA site:

  • Supports a successful, vibrant mix of homes, shops and businesses and other uses and activities.
  • Provides a balanced and integrated mix of residential accommodation, across the full range of private and affordable housing.
  • Minimum of 25 per cent Affordable Housing provision in aggregate on Rodney Road Phase and Heygate Phase together and a minimum of 25 per cent Affordable Housing provision on the Shopping Centre Phase. All such Affordable Housing to be divided equally between social rented and intermediate housing.
  • Has its own clear and positive identity.
  • Provides opportunities for local independent retail businesses, reflective of the diversity of the surrounding residential populations, to contribute to the distinctive identity of E&C.
  • Improves the life chances of individuals through enhancing health, educational attainment through provision of training opportunities, skill levels and employability of individuals.
  • Contains a range of high quality public space.
  • Is designed to be safe and free from the fear of crime through meeting 'Secure by Design' requirements.
  • Provides training and employment opportunities for Southwark residents both during construction and in the completed scheme.
  • Encouraging the use of public transport, focusing on the pedestrians and cyclists within a high quality public realm which is both safe and inviting for 24 hours a day.
  • Has a high quality, attractive and successful public realm of streets and spaces that are well designed and easy to understand.
  • Is clean and well maintained.
  • High quality green spaces, which encourage activity and improve the appearance and the quality of life for the people in it.
  • Has easy access to a diverse range of good quality local facilities and services.
  • Adopts a balanced and integrated range of measures to maximise the efficient use of natural resources, limit carbon emissions and minimise waste.
  • Contains new buildings that are well designed, flexible and energy efficient.

Q: What happens now?

A: It is important to remember that the transformation of the Elephant Castle will take at least fifteen years to complete. Once the Regeneration Agreement is signed, the partners will work on detailed planning applications and demolition of the Heygate and Rodney Road flats.

Timetable

July 2010 - Signing of the regeneration agreement

October 2010 - Commencement of demolition of Rodney Road

Spring 2011 - Demolition of Rodney Road completed.

End 2011 - Detailed planning consent met for Rodney Road

End 2013 - Outline planning consent received for the Heygate

2015 - Completion of demolition of the Heygate Estate

More news

Coverage of the Elephant and Castle story is available on BBC News with further reaction on today's (8 July) Vanessa Show. Audio Boo and Estate Gazette both include interviews with the leader Peter John.

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