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 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.

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.

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 is contracted to deliver outreach and advice services drop-in advice is currently available Tuesday to Thursday, 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

The opening times vary in response to trader needs and are clearly displayed around the office. To get the best bespoke service traders can book an appointment, which can be at the office or at another location convenient to the trader.

How does the relocation process work, and is this affected by judicial review?

The shopping centre application is currently being considered in the early stages of a judicial review, often called a JR.  This technically suspends the section 106 agreement, although Tree Shepherd will continue to offer business support and both the developer and council are committed to planning for relocation as far as is possible. Assuming the JR is not upheld and the planning permission remains, the developer has agreed to give six months notice of closure to the council and traders as written in the section 106 agreement. This will also be the point at which the relocation fund money is payable to the council on behalf of the traders. If the JR is successful, then planning permission will be overturned and the section 106 agreement will no longer apply.

Where will businesses be able to relocate to?

Extra space has been provided in the local area for independent traders from the shopping centre site. These locations are being built to offer additional space on top of what is available on local high streets - they do not provide enough space on their own for every trader to move to them.

Retail units at the base of Perronet House. These are being built by Southwark Council to create additional affordable space and help maintain a local retail offer after the shopping centre closes. The units are sized approximately between 100sqft and 360sqft with one larger café unit around 1300sqft.

Temporary retail units at Castle Square. These are being built by Delancey. This was required by the council to provide additional, temporary space for traders during the redevelopment of the town centre. Each individual unit ‘module’ measures around 140sqft but can be combined in different sizes to fit businesses’ needs.

Retail units at Elephant One. These were provided under the planning permission for this development and have been held in reserve by Delancey for shopping centre traders. They're mostly sized between 150sqft and 300sqft with one unit at 635sqft. 

An application process for these units was run in early 2019 and offers have been made to shopping centre businesses.

Lendlease is also offering 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.

Can traders get feedback on their business planning and applications for units?

Yes, this feedback will be available through Tree Shepherd on a confidential basis to help traders use the information in their application to improve their business plans and to plan their next move. As this information is commercially sensitive, it will not be publically available.

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. It's constantly updated and is currently advertising 54 available units. 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 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: 30 January 2020