Monday, July 12, 2010

A Deal on the Elephant and Castle

Last Wednesday Southwark's Cabinet took the decision to enter into a Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease to redevelop the Elephant and Castle - a £1.5 billion 15 year project which will transform this part of South London.

In November the previous administration had entered into a Heads of Terms with Lend Lease, but those failed to include any mention of affordable housing, the shopping centre or any leisure facilities. In the 8 weeks since we took office all of these issues have been addressed. We now have a minimum guarantee of at least 25% affordable housing on the site; the shopping centre will be the subject of a compulsory purchase order if no deal can be reached between Lend Lease and St Modwens (the shopping centre owner) and there will be a new leisure centre on the site of the current leisure centre.

In obtaining a guarantee on affordable housing we have had to lose some guaranteed profit which would have come to the Council in 15 years time. We thought this was the right choice to make, as it reflects our political priorities for the Elephant and Castle to be a truly mixed community.

Amazingly the Liberal Democrats have opposed the deal! Despite the fact that they failed to progress the deal during their 8 years in office - 8 years of dither and delay - they now appear to think that it would have been preferable to have no guarantee of affordable housing.

Labour pledged to move forward with the regeneration of the borough, and the Elephant and Castle is crucial to that objective. It is a deal I am proud of and I am confident it will be one of many regeneration projects which we see in Southwark over the next four years.

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