Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre Independent Business and Relocation Advisor

Following an equalities analysis of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, the council set out a range of mitigation projects in a Cabinet report agreed on 7 May 2017, including the role of an independent business and relocation advisor who was appointed in June 2017. The latest update on the various mitigation projects is set out below as updated in May 2019.

What are the plans for the shopping centre?

The shopping centre is owned by Delancey who have applied to the council to redevelop it. This development will include a new shopping centre, a new entrance to the Underground, a new building for the London College of Communications and 979 new flats. In July 2018, the council’s planning committee voted for a resolution to grant permission. The application was examined by the Mayor of London who issued approval on 10 December 2018. You can view the full planning application, reference 16/AP/4458.

What does the council think about the impact of the development of the centre?

Southwark Council has been clear from the start that the development of the centre should complement the wider area, build on the diversity of the Elephant and Castle and have provision for smaller, independent traders to operate from the new centre. The council is committed to enabling the largest possible number of existing businesses to remain in the area and has obliged the developer to make sensible provision for them - from new premises to business support and advice. For many smaller traders this is an opportunity to grow and develop their business.

What does Delancey’s planning permission require them to do to support traders?

Delancey are required by terms of the section 106 agreement to provide funding for independent business support, first refusal to traders for the units at Castle Square, a database of available local retail units, and to provide a £634,700 (plus CPI indexing) relocation fund to be paid to the council for distribution to the traders at the notice of closure. Delancey will be required to give six months notice of closure to the traders and council.

The Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre Relocation Fund has been available for eligible traders from Southwark Council from February 2020. The total funding pot is £647,835 (after CPI adjustments), and all traders have been issued detailed guidance and the application process on this.

Delancey have long agreed to supplement the relocation fund on a case by case basis, as noted in the s106, as discussed at the trader panels and the announcement at the all trader meeting on 14 January 2020. While this is not part of Southwark Council’s oversight, Delancey have made clear they will examine each case sympathetically and acknowledge the individual financial situation of each business.

Why has Tree Shepherd been employed to work with traders at Elephant and Castle?

Southwark Council tendered to appoint an independent business and relocation advisor and appointed Tree Shepherd in June 2017. The role of the advisor is to support traders affected by Delancey’s planned redevelopment of the shopping centre to prepare to move out of their current premises and find new premises in the surrounding area.

Who are Tree Shepherd?

Tree Shepherd is a not-for-profit limited company by guarantee. The company works in communities to help people create new opportunities and supporting businesses facing the pressures of change. They work with small businesses to help them grow their confidence, share ideas and knowledge, set up businesses, trade together and ultimately employ other people.

Is Tree Shepherd independent?

Tree Shepherd is commissioned by, and reports to, Southwark Council to deliver its objective of supporting the trader community through this disruptive period. Delancey is obliged by the council to cover the costs of this business support, as outlined in the planning application, but does not control the work Tree Shepherd does.

Which traders are Tree Shepherd working with?

Tree Shepherd’s business support is for all affected independent businesses within the development area - meaning all existing independently owned businesses, traders, kiosk holders, restaurants, market stall holders and charities. However they're now focussing on those traders without an affordable unit.

Will businesses have to move within the Elephant and Castle Area or risk losing support?

No. Tree Shepherd is commissioned to provide support to all businesses within the defined area irrespective of where they want to move.

Is information about the businesses kept confidential?

Yes. All conversations with Tree Shepherd are confidential. Some basic, essential and non-confidential information such as the type and size of the business and levels of engagement with Tree Shepherd, are shared with the council to ensure the contract is being delivered, but nothing private or financial.

How do Tree Shepherd operate in the shopping centre?

Tree Shepherd currently works remotely owing to COVID-19. Tree Shepherd is available at info@treeshepherd.org.uk.

Where are businesses relocating?

Currently 45 traders have found an affordable relocation space at Elephant Arcade, Elephant One, Elephant Park, and Castle Square, supported by the council, the Developer, and Tree Shepherd.

Work at Elephant Arcade, Elephant One, and Castle Square is being finished and will be ready for the closure of the centre. 

Traders with an affordable unit are currently engaged in assessing fit-out and the logistics of moving, or examining their leases with legal advice paid for by the relocation fund.

Traders are also currently finalizing contracts and moving dates at Elephant Park.  Lendlease continues to offer affordable retail space at Elephant Park and centre traders will have the first option to apply for these spaces and any further opportunities that come forward.

In addition, there's a regularly updated database of properties available for nearby locations such as Walworth Road and East Street. Traders are also free to relocate outside of these areas, and this will not affect their access to business planning support or the relocation fund. All traders will also have the option to apply as a priority to the rebuilt shopping centre on affordable rents.

What happens to traders who weren’t successful in securing a unit at these sites?

The council and developer remain committed to supporting traders in relocating to new premises. Both want traders to consider staying in Southwark as valued businesses, and will continue to look for sites where traders can move to. Wherever traders decide to move to, whether in Southwark or not, the relocation fund and independent business support will remain available to them.

Unfortunately there were always going to be traders that were not able to be offered a unit in the relocation spaces listed owing to space restrictions. However all of the applicants to the affordable units were assessed fairly in February and March 2019. There are 33 eligible traders remaining.

Currently 31 eligible traders without an affordable offer have received a £3000 Business Transition Grant, which will be followed by another payment near the closure of the shopping centre, which we currently expect to be a similar amount to the first payment.  In addition, they are able to claim from the relocation fund.

The Business Transition Grants were created by the council in recognition of the fact that these businesses do not have the benefit of additional financial subsidy that an affordable unit offers and therefore their period of transition may be more challenging. These traders continue to be a priority for support in the period leading up to the closure of the centre.

How will traders without a space be directly supported?

These traders without an affordable offer are a priority for support from the Independent Business Advisor Tree Shepherd until the closure of the centre. In addition to administering the Business Transition Grants and Relocation Fund, and supporting relocation, Tree Shepherd offer tailored business advice for those looking to change their business model or modes of working, such as a combination of online and live trading, or planning for a change in trading location. 

A support service will also be available from Tree Shepherd as required by traders for up to a year after the closure of the shopping centre.

Are there any other services for traders?

Traders can also access Southwark Works, who can offer career advice to traders looking to change their work, or upskill. This service is open to traders operating from the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre whether or not they are Southwark residents.

In recent months businesses across Southwark, including at the shopping centre site, have also had access to additional grants to help mitigate loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will business be able to return to the shopping centre when it is built?

The planning agreement guarantees that 10% of the retail in the new shopping centre will be affordable, and any independent business currently trading there who is displaced by the development will have first right to apply for one of those affordable units.

What is the relocation database?

This is a database of available retail properties in Southwark. The database is built and maintained by the developer, and is available to all traders to simplify the search for local premises. The database shows available premises within one mile of the site. Traders should have a login and password already but if not, they should contact the developer who will ensure they receive them.

What are the specific opportunities in Southwark markets?

Southwark Council has a dedicated markets team and is fully aware of the situation facing market traders who will be displaced by the closure of the shopping centre. Following a series of presentations and feedback, it seems clear that a tailored one-to-one discussion is preferred by all and the council urges market traders to contact the markets team, with the help of Tree Shepherd if required to discuss which opportunities might work for them. There are pitches available in the major Southwark markets in areas with growing populations and footfall including East Street, the Blue Bermondsey, several street markets in Peckham and Deal Porter Square at Canada Water. In addition, the council has good links with neighbouring and other London boroughs who have offered available pitches and can discuss opportunities outside of Southwark too.

How can traders apply for units at Elephant Park?

New retail units are being constructed across Elephant Park which are being released in phases as the blocks are constructed. The first units are being opened on Walworth Road, and a new independent shopping street called Sayer Street which connects Castle Square to Walworth Square. Later units will be opened along New Kent Road, and alongside the new park. 10% of the overall mix of retail units across Elephant Park will be offered as affordable units, and traders have the option of a discounted rent (40% discount over the first 5 years), or a grant towards the fit out of the new unit. To view any units at Elephant Park, or discuss what units will be built in future please ask Tree Shepherd to help to put you in touch directly with the retail managers at Lend Lease.

Campaign groups such as Latin Elephant and Group 35% claim traders have not been consulted enough

This is not the case, as traders have been consulted throughout the process and are represented by a trader panel as well as receiving ongoing 1:1 support from Tree Shepherd. The effects of the development on the traders are important to the council and the developer and they are being given every opportunity to consider their future. We welcome the challenge and input from campaign groups but are keen to work with the traders individually as they are the group directly affected.

What is the trader’s panel?

The trader’s panel is the body constituted in the section 106 agreement that presents the views and opinions of traders to the developer and the council. It meets once a month at the shopping centre (and recently virtually) and has 12 representatives from local traders sitting on the group. It has a right to comment on important processes affecting local businesses, such as relocation. The panel is chaired by Cllr Darren Merrill and the vice chair is Cllr Maria Linforth-Hall.

Page last updated: 11 April 2024


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