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Creating a More Sustainable Elephant

Aylesbury Estate - Facts and Figures

There are a few subtle differences between the Heygate and the Aylesbury regeneration schemes. The first is that Heygate residents were denied a ballot on the future of their estate, whereas Aylesbury residents were fully balloted. Page 2 of This 2005 Council Executive Committee report shows the results of the ballot:

Further down in the report, the Council tries to speculate as to the reasons behind the residents’ comprehensive rejection of its redevelopment plans:

Note the Council’s observation that “some residents didn’t believe the new Housing Association would be able to keep its commitments on rents and service charges” .

We are now starting to see that residents’ early concerns about rent increases were very well founded. In the legal agreement for the most recent phase of the Aylesbury scheme to be granted planning approval, the definition of social rented housing refers to the London Plan and HCA definition of affordable rented housing of up to 80% market rents:

So whilst tenants will have the right to return to a new housing association property in the scheme, the new ‘social’ housing rents will be significantly higher than the existing Council rents.

This table from the Council’s June 2014 Affordable Rent Product Study shows Southwark’s market rent figures for a 1-bed flat at £289 per week for the Aylesbury postcode (SE17). 80% of this will well over double the existing Council rents on the estate and affordable to very few existing Council tenants.

Refurbishment vs Demolition

Council briefing papers show that the Council is estimated to be spending a staggering £150m emptying and demolishing the Aylesbury estate.

As we pointed out in our previous blog post, other London boroughs are making better use of their scarce resources. Islington has an estate called the Six Acres estate near Finsbury Park. The Six Acres estate was built at the same time as Heygate & Aylesury, by the same contractors (Laing) using the same system (Jespersen 12M).

Instead of demolshing its estate and handing it over to the private sector at a loss, Islington Council chose to refurbish the Six Acres estate in 2012. The 473 homes on the estate were refurbished with new external wall insulation, new entry doors, exterior furnishing improvements, green roofs and cycle shelters.

The entire Six Acres estate refurbishment and public realm improvement works cost a total of just £5.15m. This works out at around £10k per dwelling; far less than the circa £60k per dwelling that Southwark Council is spending on emptying and demolshing the Aylesbury estate (£150m/2500 homes).

Extensive research by the University College London and case studies by leading architects has shown that refurbishment is better not just financially, but also socially and environmentally.

More information about the Six Acres estate regeneration can be found here, here, here and under planning application ref: P072153 on Islington Council’s Planning Portal.

Six Acres estate before regen - more photos [here.]
Six Acres estate after regen - more photos [here.]

Gamekeepers Turned Poachers

Last week’s international property fair MIPIM wasn’t just for developers and councils, it was also for those who help developers lobby councils. Four Communications is one such company. It says it offers teams of experts who “provide support at every stage of the planning, marketing and communications process” and helps to secure “political support in the face of public opposition”.

Who are these ‘experts’ able to magically gain the ‘political support’ of council members in developments facing public opposition? Well, who better than council members themselves?

Four Communications was founded in 2001 by former (Labour) Southwark council leader Jeremy Fraser. On its payroll and list of shareholders are former (Labour) Lambeth council leader Jim Dickson (who is also a sitting Lambeth councillor) and Southwark’s former (Labour) Cabinet Member for Regeneration Steve Lancashire[1].

The South Bank’s King’s Reach Tower provides a good example of how Four Communications’ lobbying service works. In 2010, Developer CIT employed Four to ‘help’ get permission for its controversial 41 storey Blackfriars development. This is how Four’s 4 step lobbying process was implemented:

  1. Four’s Steve Lancashire sets up meetings with his Southwark Labour cronies Peter John (council leader) and Fiona Colley (Cabinet Member for Regeneration). Extract from page 6 of King’s Reach SCI produced by Four Communications
  2. The old friends agree to nod through the development despite its numerous planning policy breaches like the lack of any on-site affordable housing.
  3. The council leader and regen boss brief their planning officers instructing them to recommend the application to the (heavily whipped) planning committee.
  4. Four conducts a bogus consultation and produces a ‘Statement of Community Involvement’, providing phony evidence that local residents support the application.

Every major planning application requires a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) to demonstrate that the developer has consulted with the local community and that its plans have public support. Four has helped developers obtain permission and produced SCIs for an impressive list of (social housing-free) developments in Southwark. The table below provides links to the SCIs created by Four for each of the following developments which it helped obtain permission:

Neo Bankside Sampson & Ludgate House Elephant One SouthBank Tower The Shard
http://planning.. http://planningonli.. http://planningonl.. http://planningon.. http://www.w4mp..
St. George’s Wharf One Blackfriars Eileen House Strata Tower The Quill
http://fourcomm.. http://planningonli.. http://planningonl.. http://planningon.. http://planningonl..

See page 19 of Strata Tower SCIAnother working example is Strata Tower, which shows what a sham Four’s SCI consultation process is: its consultation showed that it had consulted just 13 people - hardly evidence of widespread public support. Unsurprisingly most of these agreed to the vague and narrowly-framed questions aimed at restricting any kind of meaningful consultation:

  • “The design of the scheme should be of the highest quality”
  • “Any new proposals should be environmentally friendly”
  • “It is important that local residents continue to be consulted as plans move forward”

The planning application was duly nodded through and Strata Tower - entirely without social rented housing but complete with useless wind turbines - was built.

Private Eye (issue 1380 - 25 Nov 2014)It is worth noting that the council’s E&C regeneration partner Lend Lease, is absent from the list of Four’s clients. That’s because Lend Lease employs a different PR company called Quatro to handle PR for its developments. It’s also worth noting that Quatro’s Managing Director Paul Dimoldenberg, is a former senior Southwark council officer and current leader of the Labour group on Westminster city council.

As covered in a previous post, Southwark’s former Lib Dem and Conservative leaders have shown no greater integrity and are both now helping developers obtain planning permission for developments in Southwark. But what makes the Labour leaders’ double-dealing particularly dangerous is their political strangleholds in Southwark and Lambeth: the lack of any opposition party provides the leaders with a free hand to wave all these developments through unscrutinised.

Southwark and Lambeth’s corrupt Labour clique has given a whole new meaning to the New Labour mantra of “inclusive prosperity”.


[1]: See pages 34 & 51 of the South Bank Tower SCI for evidence of this.

London Assembly Investigates Refurbishment vs Demolition

Last Friday saw the second meeting of the London Assembly’s investigation into the refurbishment and demoliton of council estates. The first meeting in June had heard from regeneration industry ‘specialists’, who caused a stir when Stephen McDonald, Southwark’s former head of regeneration boasted about winning an award for ‘emptying’ the Heygate of its residents in under a year. Stephen is now working for Barnet Council emptying the West Hendon estate of its residents.

Last week’s meeting gave the opportunity for an alternative perspective and for those directly affected by regeneration schemes to have their say. Among the highlights from speakers at the meeting were:

Roy Kindle - formerly of Greenwich Council who said: “10 years ago residents on the Ferrier estate were told that they would have the right to come back, but what Greenwich didn’t mention is that they would need to win the lottery to do so.”

Richard Lee from the Just Space Network who explained that “decisions to demolish seem to be based on some kind of ideological, policy-driven agenda rather than a robust cost/benefit analysis - technical reports very rarely look at the question of embodied carbon.”

Chris Jofeh, Director of Arup (the consulting engineers who were involved in the original Heygate construction and also the redevelopment) claimed that “Demolition and rebuild emits a super amount of carbon dioxide and even if you build super-efficient new homes it could take 30 years before you redress the balance. If we do take carbon targets seriously then refurbishment is an option which is much more likely to achieve those targets.”

Twice during the meeting the question was asked “can anybody give a positive example of regeneration?”; unfortunately the answer was silence accompanied by widespread shoulder shrugging.

This is a problem, particularly when the issue is polarised around the two opposed camps of refurbishment versus demolition. In the context of the seemingly universal agreement around housing shortages and the need for density increases, this can lead to equally universal claims that there is no alternative to the Heygate & Aylesbury-style wholesale discounted disposal option.

What these polarised perspectives miss are the plethora of possibilities inbetween the two poles of refurbishment versus demolition. For example, in 1998 Southwark Council commissioned consulting engineers ‘Allot & Lomax’ (now part of the Jacobs group) to conduct a survey and options appraisal study for the Heygate estate. The engineers declared all of the buildings structurally sound but recommended that 6 of the estate’s 19 blocks be demolished and redeveloped to fit in with the Council’s plan to increase density, permeability and tenure mix; the remaining 13 blocks they recommended for refurbishment.

However, Southwark rejected the consultants’ recommendations on the grounds that “it was recognised at the time that changing land values could make the complete demolition and redevelopment by the private sector a better option.”[1]

We are now 15 years on from this decision and are just beginning to be able to evaluate its social, economic and environmental outcomes:

Economic: Southwark Council has spent far more on ‘decanting’ the estate than expected. By Jan 2013 it had incurred capital and revenue costs totalling £65m[1].
Social: the social impact of the scheme and its failure to provide the new homes promised to Heygate residents has been widely documented.
Environmental: the continued emphasis on the operative carbon emission comparisons between Heygate buildings and its intended replacements entirely disavows the question of embodied carbon, i.e. the carbon emitted from the construction of materials contained both in existing buildings and their replacements. This 2012 report by Gensler & Baqus shows that 40,000 tonnes of C02 emissions could have been saved by the estate’s refurbishment.

So what might the Heygate have looked like had the Council followed the advice of its consultants?

Islington’s Six Acres estate in Finsbury park was built in 1969 - five years before the Heygate and Aylesbury.
In 2011 Islington Council passed plans for the regeneration of the estate. In 2012 the plans were implemented commencing with the demolition of one of the maisonette blocks containing 72 social rented homes. That part of the site along with the former car park, was sold for £8.4m to ‘One Housing Group’ who built 164 new homes comprising a mix of 82 private, 65 social rented and 17 intermediate units. All new homes were equipped with solar hot water and ground-source heat pumps. The remaining 9 blocks on the estate comprising 473 council homes were refurbished with new external wall insulation, new entry doors, exterior furnishing improvements, green roofs and cycle shelters.

Disregarding the demolition and construction cost of the new homes, the refurbishment and landscaping works amounted to a total cost of just £5.15m. This works out at around £10k per dwelling, far less than the circa £50k per dwelling that Southwark Council has spent on emptying the Heygate estate.

More information about the Six Acres estate regeneration can be found here, here, here and under planning application ref: P072153 on Islington Council’s Planning Portal.

Six Acres estate before regen - more photos [here.]
Six Acres estate after regen - more photos [here.]

So the question is - can Six Acres estate be held up as a positive example of regeneration? and can it be used in time to halt the approaching onslaught of council estate demolitons and sell-offs?

[1] See Paragraphs 5.34 & 5.35 of CPO Statement of Evidence

[2] See Paragraph 2.8 of Heygate CPO Statement of Reasons

Getting Paid to Demolish the Heygate

There has been a lot of crowing by Council Regeneration Boss Fiona Colley recently, about how many jobs the regeneration will bring.
In her letter published in last week’s Guardian, she claims that the regeneration will deliver “5,000 jobs, giving local people genuine opportunities to develop skills and earn a decent income.”

She was subsequently busy on Twitter asking if anybody was interested in ‘getting paid to demolish the Heygate’ :

One user replied to Cllr Colley with the question ‘will these jobs be for locals?’ Better Elephant pointed out the fact that Southwark is paying £15m to Lend Lease to demolish the estate, and asked whether the jobs would be paying the London Living Wage?

Cllr Colley failed to respond to either question.

The questions are pertinent in view of the large sums of public money flowing into what is essentially a private development. Southwark has already spent a total of £65m in just emptying the estate and progressing its redevelopment^1; it is about to spend a further £15m paying Lend Lease to demolish it, and the question of whether any of this will flow into the hands of local people after Lend Lease and Keltbray have taken their cut is a valid one.

In finding an answer we could look at a case study example of how regeneration contracts have benefited local people so far:

According to this FOI request, Southwark council has spent £1.28m on private security for the Heygate estate over the past 4 years. We don’t have an exact breakdown of the costs, but we do know that in April 2008 a contract was awarded to a company called ‘Safe Estates Services Ltd’ to provide regular night-time security for the estate in exchange for the sum of £13,500 per month. Companies House records show that Safe Estates Services appears to be a special purpose vehicle set up specifically for the Heygate contract: company accounts show that it has no employees, pays no tax, and is a subsidiary of VPS Holdings Ltd, which is in turn a subsidiary of TDR Capital LLP.

Further investigation reveals that Safe Estates has simply subcontracted the entire contract to another firm ‘Lapa Security Ltd’, which is based in Swanley, Kent and which according to its website offers “comprehensive security recruitment services in Orpington, Bromley, Swanley and Dartford.” . Lapa then entrusts the Heygate contract to its self-employed security guards on zero-hour contracts. The self-employed security guards comprise one dog handler with his own vehicle and dog paid £9 per hour, and one security guard without a dog who is paid £6.30 per hour.

If we multiply the hourly rates by the 7x11 hour night shifts, we find that from the £13,500 per month paid by the council, less than a third is ending up in the hands of the actual contractors on the ground. The lion’s share of the contract sum is skimmed off by a number of middle men in the form of tax-avoiding holding companies and sub sub-contractors - each taking their cut.

The £6.30 per hour wage is also well below the London Living Wage of £8.55 per hour, to which Southwark as one of only 9 boroughs in London committed to sign up last year. It even specifically committed to extend this also to contractors and agency staff.

Whatsmore, on September 30th Lend Lease took possession of half of the Heygate site. Lend Lease has subcontracted the demolition of the next phase of the estate to a company called Keltbray, who have subcontracted the security of their compound to a company called Clipfine. It has also emerged that Clipfine is failing to pay its security guards the London Living Wage, despite the fact that the Heygate planning application’s legal agreement binds Lend Lease into ensuring all its contractors and subcontractors are paid the London Living Wage^2:

Of course this legal agreement is worthless without a council willing to enforce it, and without a council-backed investigation it is very unlikely that any subcontractors will come forward, as they run the risk of being permanently condemned to a construction industry blacklist.

So it looks like the Elephant regeneration is going the same way as Lend Lease’s Olympic Village development where despite all promises workers were also routinely found being paid less than the London Living Wage.

Furthermore, during the whole six-year duration of the contract, not one security guard employed by Lapa under the council’s contract has been a Southwark resident. So is this what Cllr Colley means by “giving local people genuine opportunities to develop skills and earn a decent income”? Or is it just yet another example of her administration’s propensity to make countless meaningless promises and statements?

Lend Lease Is Not Human

In a bizarre attempt to avoid having to disclose how much profit it will make from the Heygate redevelopment, developer Lend Lease has appealed to the Information Tribunal claiming human rights infringements.

Its appeal has been made against the Information Commissioner’s recent ruling that full financial details of its agreement with Southwark Council to redevelop the estate must be disclosed.

In appealing Lend Lease has cited Article 1 of the Human Rights Act, which states that “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest.”

Lend Lease claims that “the disputed information in this case constitutes Lend Lease’s ‘possessions’” and that “disclosure would interfere with Lend Lease’s entitlement to its possessions.” ^1

This desperate attempt to clutch at legal straws would be comical were it not for the fact that Lend Lease had recently spent £3m convincing the Government inspectorate that it is entitled to deprive the last remaining Heygate residents of the peaceful enjoyment of their homes.

How in any case is the world’s largest property company - worth an estimated £3bn - able to stake a claim to any human rights one might ask?

Many countries prohibit a legal entity from holding human rights, unfortunately Britain is not one of them. This Guardian article shows that it is a growing trend in the UK, partly as an act of desperation by companies when all else fails.

So if Lend Lease were a person then what kind of person would it be? Answers on a postcard please…

And why is it so determined to keep the Heygate financial figures secret?
Maybe because it will show how much profit it expects to make from the redevelopment, which won’t look good against what Southwark is making - or indeed losing from it. The appeal documents also show that the council has now spent a total of £65m in just emptying the estate and progressing its redevelopment^2 whilst leaked documents show that it stands to receive just £50m from Lend Lease in return for the site.

Does anyone at the Elephant & Castle other than Lend Lease still believe in this regeneration?

View of Heygate estate from Lend Lease’s E&C Office

Regeneration Branded ‘Miserable Failure’ at CPO Public Inquiry

Southwark’s Elephant & Castle regeneration plans were branded “a miserable failure” by former Heygate residents at a public inquiry into the Heygate Compulsory Purchase Order.

The Order was confirmed today after a six month wait following the four day inquiry, which took place during 5th - 8th Feb. The inquiry was triggered when remaining leaseholders on the Heygate estate objected to the Order, which will see them dispossessed of their homes to make way for the £1.5bn regeneration scheme being undertaken by the council and its development partner Lend Lease.

There were a total of 10 objectors to the Order, including the Crossway church located on the estate plus a number of local residents and community groups. The objections broached a number of themes including lack of truly affordable housing, loss of trees and claims that the plans had been altered from the original regeneration objectives to the extent that they were no longer in the public interest.

The objectors lead by the Heygate Leaseholders Group, pointed out that tenants on the estate had not been given the opportunity to object, as those who objected had simply been subjected to eviction proceedings under the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act. They also pointed out that the scheme amounts to forced displacement - as the council had denied Heygate residents a ballot on whether their homes should be demolished. Several former Heygate residents gave evidence at the inquiry objecting to Southwark’s heavy-handed approach when the decant was brought forward in 2007 - 1 in 3 secure tenants were subjected to eviction proceedings[1], and its failure to honour promises to residents that they would be able to move to new homes on the estate footprint: the new ‘affordable’ units will be at the new ‘affordable rent’, which will be at least double the level of council rents. Just 1 in 5 secure tenants on the estate have managed to stay living in the SE17 postcode, the rest have been scattered across the four corners of the borough and beyond:

The objectors were also supported by academic expert witnesses who gave evidence showing the negative effects of displacement on the community, and produced data showing how the development plans - if passed - would create a far less mixed community at the Elephant & Castle (just 8% social housing in total).

Among the expert witnesses giving evidence were:

Lorretta Lees - King’s College London

Michael Edwards - Bartlett School of Planning (UCL)

Mara Ferreri - Queen Mary University of London

Other witnesses giving evidence in support of the objectors included members of local groups Better Elephant and the Elephant Amenity Network, Catherine Croft from the Twentieth Century Society and Tim Tinker the original Heygate architect.

In his submission, Tinker who spent 7 years drawing up the Heygate scheme in the 1960s said the following: “The Heygate and its design has been stigmatised and I thought it was time to set the record straight. Its notorious reputation is a farrago of half-truths and lies put together by people who should have known better.” [2] Tinker also pointed out that the original 1970s Heygate redevelopment had been based on providing homes for those displaced from a specific neighbouring slum clearance area (what is now the Newington estate). The original scheme he claimed, had kept the community together whereas the current scheme he said, had seen residents “scattered to the four winds” .

Michael Edwards who is a senior lecturer in the economics of planning at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning said “What is called ‘regeneration’ typically has perverse, unintended, negative effects of displacing precisely those people whose deprivation was taken as the justification for regeneration.” [3]

Lorretta Lees, who is Professor of Human Geography at King’s College London and an international expert on gentrification and urban regeneration policy said “The development plans do not acknowledge the social mix already present on the estate, nor do they address issues of social sustainability. They deploy a language of social balance in the service of social exclusion. The rhetoric is about social sustainability, but confirmation of the CPO will lead to social segregation.” [4]

In her witness statement, former chair of the Heyate Tenants and Residents Association Helen O’Brien described the redevelopment plans as a miserable failure - “What was once a thriving community has now been scattered all over Southwark. Southwark’s regeneration plans are a miserable failure. Everyone who has worked on the regeneration at the Elephant should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

During the inquiry objectors produced detailed statistics including a 1998 Stock Condition Survey and a council-commissioned Options Appraisal Study, which had made recommendations for large parts of the estate to be refurbished as part of the redevelopment. They also produced a detailed analysis by global architects Gensler, showing how the estate could be refurbished and modernised at the current cost of just £14k per home.

Crime statistics were also tabled by objectors in response to the council’s claim that the bad design of the estate led to it becoming a “by-word for social failure, crime and anti-social behaviour” . The figures showed that the crime rate on the estate was a staggering 45% below the borough average.

Former Heygate Leaseholder Terry Redpath travelled in from Sidcup to give evidence at the inquiry. His submission highlighted the plight of leaseholders, many of which had been forced to relocate outside London with the low compensation paid for their homes - “I could no longer afford to stay in the area - the compensation I was offered plus £45,000 of life savings bought me a terraced property 15 miles out of London. I have been forced to give up my home to accommodate the building of homes for overseas investors.” [5]
Redpath, who lived on the estate for 35 years and whose family have lived in the area for generations, went on to highlight the shortcomings of the consultation process:
“Consultation was a farce - the council kept insisting that 94% of local residents supported the redevelopment plans, but we later learned that this was 94% of just 6% that had responded to the survey. They had originally promised us a ballot on whether the estate should be demolished but we never got it - it has been completely undemocratic.”

The google overlay map below shows the extent of displacement suffered by Heygate leaseholders as a result of the regeneration scheme:

Remaining leaseholder and statutory objector Adrian Glasspool said “We have simply exercised our right to say no. This is a privilege that tenants on the estate didn’t have - 198 of whom were forced to leave their homes under the shadow of eviction proceedings.

“An entire community has been forcibly displaced for the sake of mere land value speculation.”

Remaining leaseholder and statutory objector Mojisola Ojeikere (left in the photograph accompanying inspector Wenda Fabian during the site tour) said “We were originally promised a range of options in assisting us to buy one of the new-build Heygate homes[6], but this promise was never honoured - now we are being shortchanged and priced out of the area: I am being offered just £150,000 for my 2 bed flat, when the new-build 2 bed Heygate flats are currently being marketed overseas for upwards of £455,000 [].
How am I supposed to buy one of these with the miserable amount they are offering me for my home?”

When objectors asked at the inquiry why they didn’t get the new homes originally promised, the council’s lead officer replied “I don’t know, I wasn’t employed by the council at the time the promises were made. But I am sure Lend Lease would be willing to sell to anyone” :

Analysis of information received through FOI requests, shows that the average compensation received by leaseholders for a 1 bed flat on the estate was just £95,480.

Southwark Council is estimated to have spent around £3m obtaining the Compulsory Purchase Order.

The council’s case documents submitted for the CPO can be downloaded here, and a copy of the Objectors’ Statement of Case is available here. A short audio recording of objectors giving evidence at the inquiry can be downloaded from here.


[1]: Inquiry Document 32 tabled by Project Director Jon Abbott during Public Inquiry on 8 Feb 2013

[2]: Mr Tinker’s written statement, Objectors’ Statement of Case - page 45.

[3]: Mr Edwards’ written statement, Inquiry Document 21.

[4]: Professor Lees’ written statement, Inquiry Document 26.

[5]: Mr Redpath’s written statement, Objectors’ Statement of Case - page 43.

[6]: See also paragraph 26 of the 2005 Leaseholder Policy and paragraphs 4 & 33 of the Executive Report - ‘Heygate Estate Decant Arrangements’, 18 May 2004: “Council Executive agrees to develop housing options for leaseholders whose interests will be acquired as part of the main scheme, including shared and retained equity arrangements. The negotiation of shared ownership retained equity schemes for people to buy a share in a higher valued property will form part of the procurement exercise to select housing association and developer partners.”

Heygate Spring Festival

As part of the Elephant & Castle Neighbourhood Forum spring festival of events, there will be a day of activities on the Heygate estate this coming Sunday 9th June.

The event is entitled ‘400 Speeches’ and will involve conversations and readings with local artists and campaigners throughout the day.

This will be followed by refreshments, and at 7pm with an exclusive screening of the 2002 documentary ‘Up the Elephant’ by Julie Speechley, which critically investigates the early regeneration plans. The film includes interviews with a number of Heygate residents and controversial council regeneration boss Fred Manson.

Report Uncovers Conflicts of Interest

A report by journalist Anna Minton has uncovered conflicts of interest and what she describes as a revolving door between council officials and developers at the Elephant & Castle.

The report reveals a number of former council officers involved in negotiations with developer Lend Lease for the controversial sale of the Heygate estate, who have left the council and are now full-time employees of Lend Lease corporation.

Tom BrantonTom Branton was Southwark’s lead officer responsible for the procurement of Lend Lease as regeneration partner and who authored the report to cabinet recommending the signing of the regeneration agreement in July 2010.

Tom subsequently left the Council in 2011 to start work directly for Lend Lease, where he is now Development Manager for the Elephant & Castle project.

Kura PerkinsKura Perkins worked for Southwark Council on the Elephant & Castle project as Communications Manager up until 2006. Kura then left the council to work for Lend Lease as its Communications Manager until 2011.

Cllr DimoldenbergPaul Dimoldenberg was Senior Research Officer at Southwark Council for 8 years. He later became a councillor in the borough of Westminster where is now the Labour Group leader. He also set up PR company called Quarto PR, which Lend Lease currently instructs to deal with public relations for all its major developments.

Matthew ReesMatthew Rees was E&C Regeneration Project Manager from 2005 to 2014 when he left to take up the position of Development Manager at Alumno Developments, a company currently developing a block of high-end student flats at Elephant and converting the former Southwark Town Hall into artist studios and luxury student accommodation.

Julie GreerJulie Greer was Southwark’s Design Manager for the Elephant & Castle masterplan. She left the Council in 2007 to work for the ODA on the Lend Lease Olympic Village development. In 2009 she set up her own company which offers developers “design advice from the early stages of a project right through to submitting a planning application, and further support and expert advice in the event of an appeal.” Her company boasts “a sound track record of delivering projects in sensitive locations in London.”

Chris HornChris Horn was the lead council officer who advised on Lend Lease’s selection as development partner until his departure from the council in October 2007. Chris now works for Inventa Partners Ltd, a company that advises developers on planning and environmental issues. Among the projects that Inventa have advised on was Lend Lease’s Greenwich Peninsula development (before it sold the project on to Knight Dragon in 2012).
Beyond the Council’s senior planning & regeneration team officers who have defected to the private development sector, a more than significant number of Council members have also slinked through Southwark’s revolving doors:

Jeremy FraserAfter Labour lost to the Lib Dems in 2002, both the former Labour Council Leader, Southwark’s Councillor for Regeneration (Steve Lancashire) and Lambeth Labour’s Jim Dickson teamed up to found a consultancy offering developers “political support in the face of public opposition” to their planning proposals. The company they founded is called ‘Four Communications’ and has assisted developers on a large number of high-profile South Bank developments.

Cllr Stanton (left) & Lend Lease CEO Dan LabbadNick Stanton, former Lib Dem council leader who was critcised for lack of transparency after selecting Lend Lease as the council’s development partner in 2007, is now an Associate Director for property development PR company ‘Curtin & Co’. On Stanton’s profile page for the company he writes “I enjoy working on strategic allocations enabling controversial sites to come forward for development.” Under his list of major accomplishments he boasts “Winning approval at committee for a major development on a greenfield site” Amongst others, Curtin is currently advising developers on the controversial Southwark Metals development in Bermondsey for which Stanton’s party received a donation.

Cllr John (left), Kim Humphries (centre), Cllr Colley (right)After having left the council in 2010, former Deputy Council Leader Kim Humphries(photo:centre) is now working on projects in Southwark as a development consultant. He has set up shop as Carvil Ventures advising developers on controversial schemes such as the Borough High st development, the ‘Quill’, the Canada Water regeneration and the shopping centre redevelopment at Elephant & Castle - many schemes which he himself conceived while in office.

Cllr Mark GloverMark Glover has served as a Southwark Councillor since 2002, where he has chaired the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee and was Chair of the Southwark Labour group. In 2006 Mark founded ‘Bellenden Communications’, which claims it can offer developers a “full communications package to support your planning application”. It also offers its clients a ‘political intelligence’ service, which it says involves “learning how political parties and their individual members are thinking on any given issue” and then “seeks to enlarge and inform their thoughts on behalf of our clients.” Glover stepped down as councillor in May 2014, but with his 12 years as a senior Southwark councillor, we don’t doubt that Mr Glover is very well placed to provide this service. In fact, amongst others he is currently advising Peabody on its Borough Triangle development, which is proposing zero social rented housing. In 2015, Mr Glover posed as a local businessman in a Labour party election promo.

MP Helen HayesSouthwark Councillor and Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes, has been criticised for her conflicting role as senior partner at Allies & Morrison – an urban planning/architectural firm that has been commissioned by both Southwark and Lambeth to draw up a number of Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), including Southwark’s 2014 Blackfriar’s Road SPD and Lambeth’s 2013 Brixton SPD.

Allies & Morrison was part of the Lend Lease consortium that won the bid to become the council’s development partner for the E&C regeneration. A&M is also Lend Lease’s architect on its ‘Stratford Internation Quarter’ scheme and a former partner of A&M subsidiary ‘Urban Practitioners Ltd’ is now development manager at Lend Lease. A&M has been behind a significant number of major developments that have received planning permission in southwark, including: the Eileen House - (Ministry of Sound) development; the Isis House development; the Bankside 123 buildings; the Great Suffolk Street Premier Inn development; the Brandon House development - (Former Home Office building on Borough High St); and the ‘Paris Gardens’ development.

MP Neil CoyleNeil Coyle is Southwark Labour’s MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark. Neil has had the remarkable privilege of sitting simultaneously on the council’s Planning Committee at the same time as holding a post as its deputy Cabinet member for estate regeneration. Neil lives at ‘O Central’ - one of the Elephant’s new developments built by dodgy developers Oakmayne[1] - and his wife (Sarah Lindars) is an architect at Dan Pearson Studio (cf: The Garden Bridge). No wonder then that he is a vehement supporter of the Garden Bridge scheme.

Chief Whip Dan GarfieldCllr Dan Garfield is a ward Councillor for the Aylesbury estate and also Southwark Labour’s chief whip. He is also owner of a 2-bed new-build appartment on the completed phase 1 of the Aylesbury estate redevelopment scheme, which he bought off-plan from developer L&Q in March 2009 (two years before it was completed).

Cllr Fiona ColleyFormer investment banker and current Labour Councillor for Nunhead Fiona Colley, used to be Southwark’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration. In her Cabinet post she oversaw the conception of many schemes including the Canada Water regeneration. She liked this scheme so much that she bought two flats off-plan from the developer (and then sold them on once they had been built)[1].

Cllr Catherine BowmanCatherine Bowman was a Southwark ward councillor, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Deputy Council leader. She is now working for developer Berkeley Homes as an ‘External Affairs Advisor’.

Cllr John signing Heygate over to Lend LeaseCurrent Labour Council leader Peter John who signed the E&C deal with Lend Lease in July 2010, is currently under investigation for not declaring tickets to the Olympic opening ceremony donated to him and his partner by Lend Lease. In March 2013, he was criticised for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to a property fair in Cannes paid for by Lend Lease.

Peter John & partner at OlympicsWith controversy mounting about the deals being done with developers in Southwark, serious questions are starting to be asked about conflicts of interest and integrity of those supposed to be acting in the council’s best interest.

[^1]: Fiona Colley -> On 6th Jan 1999 she bought flat 8, Yew House, 2 Woodlands Crescent SE16 6YH (Canada Water regeneration) off-plan for £159,000 and then sold it post-construction on 31st July 2003 for £271,000. On Sept 3rd 2003, she bought flat 8, Rowan House, 3 Woodlands Crescent SE16 6YF (Canada Water regeneration) for £390,000 and then sold it in May 20th 2011 for £610,000.

Council Accidentally Publishes Confidential Regeneration Agreement

Southwark Council has accidentally published the details of its deal with global property giant Lend Lease for the £1.5bn regeneration of the Elephant & Castle.

A redacted version of its confidential regeneration agreement was uploaded to the council’s website as part of its compulsory purchase proceedings against remaining residents on the Heygate estate. But a classic schoolboy error has left it possible to copy and paste the blacked-out text straight out of the redacted document.

The unintentional revelation comes after lengthy proceedings to censure an opposition councillor, who claimed the agreement was poor value for money after it was signed in July 2010. The council leader’s response at the time was that land value payments had been reduced in favour of a guarantee of 25% affordable housing. However, the recently approved Heygate plans propose just 79 social rented homes out of a total 2,535.

The document shockingly reveals that Southwark Council is set to receive just £50m in return for the 22 acre site (See pages 6 & 10 of the Agreement – (Heygate Headlease Premium £46m + Rodney Rd. Headlease Premium £4m). Other documents show that the council has already spent £65.5m on decanting the estate and progressing the redevelopment (See paragraph 50(ix) of Lend Lease’s appeal to the Information Tribunal). This means it will be making a significant loss on the redevelopment of the site. The agreement does give the council a share of overage (profit left over after the developer has taken a 20% priority slice), but a report from the District Valuer shows a viability gap such that there is unlikely to be any overage(see para. 150-153 of Officer Report 12/AP/1092).

Critics of the scheme are claiming that the council’s political administration has sold the Elephant short in order to gain political advantage in honouring its manifesto pledge to deliver the regeneration after years of stalled negotiations. Others are pointing towards council leader Peter John’s cosy relationship with the global property developer.

The £50m sale price is astonishingly low considering that the council’s own draft CIL viability study estimated a gross development value of £990m for the Heygate site, and estimated that Lend Lease stands to make a £194m profit before any overage profit is shared.

Comparisons with other development sites at the Elephant show that the council is receiving well below market value for its land interest:

The neighbouring Oakmayne/Tribeca Square 1.5 acre development site exchanged hands on the open market in 2011 for £40m – just £10m below the council’s deal for its 22 acre site.

The regeneration agreement also discloses that there have been no conditions written in to avoid the practice of ‘land banking’: this is where a developer sits on an empty development site for years, which appears on its balance sheet as an asset and is used as collateral to help keep financing low for other projects. In doing so, it also profits from purchasing land when prices are low and waiting for an upturn in the market before it capitalises on its investment.

Lend Lease is a seasoned professional at negotiating with inept public authorities, and has a long list of white elephants in its portfolio:

In 2002 Lend Lease was given the Millenium Dome and 170 acres of development land at Greenwich Peninsula. There was no fee, instead the Govt would have a share in the profits. However, a similarly precarious overage agreement was written up giving Lend Lease a priority £30m slice leaving little room for overage. Needless to say the Dome was sold on for £24m in 2009; the 170 acre surrounding site still hasn’t been developed; in 2012 Lend Lease sold its stake in the scheme for £100m having built just 239 of the 10,000 new homes proposed; a report following a National Audit Office investigation shows that there is going to be little chance of any overage.

In 2002 Lend Lease completed its PFI contract for the refurbishment of the HM Treasury building, which sees it receive around £3m per month rent from the Treasury to stay in its own building.

It is unknown how much profit Lend Lease earned from completing the Olympic Village contract; however its profits rose by 28% in the year it was completed, and it is known that the contract has now cost the taxpayer a total of £275m.

In April 2012 Lend Lease was convicted of fraud and fined $56m US Dollars for over-billing authorities on public contracts in New York.

In December 2012 legal action was instigated after Lend Lease disputed a profit sharing overage agreement at its Barangaroo development in Sydney harbour.

According to its Aug 2012 annual financial report, Lend Lease made $527m AUD - (£346m) profit before tax, and $620.8m AUD - (£334m) profit after tax in the financial year 2011/12.

The revelation confirms what Better Elephant has been saying all along: Southwark has signed a really Bum Deal!

In the meantime the council have removed the badly redacted document from its website, but it has begun to appear in full unredacted form in other places including:

Private Eye:

Southwark Notes:

Peoples’ Republic of Southwark:

The blunder has led to extensive media coverage including the following articles:

Private Eye

Heygate Objectors to Be Heard at Public Inquiry

Remaining residents on the Heygate estate have submitted their objections to the Compulsory Purchase Order ahead of the forthcoming public inquiry.

The public inquiry has been called in order for the Secretary of State to establish whether the public benefits of the development proposals sufficiently outweigh remaining residents’ rights to their homes.

On Tuesday 5th Feb the Heygate objectors are due to appear at a public inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Order, which will take place at 10am at Southwark council headquarters - 160 Tooley Street, London Bridge.

The Heygate Leaseholders Group has issued the following statement:

We are glad to have been able to exercise our right to object and be heard at a public inquiry. However, it is a shame that tenants on the estate were not given the same opportunity: those who did object were simply evicted under the 1985 Housing Act.

Our objection is that the core public benefits of the scheme originally proposed have been dropped from the current scheme, which now resembles a purely commercial development and therefore the Compulsory Purchase Order is not valid.

We will be outlining the shortcomings of the current proposals, which include:

  • the replacement of 1,100 structurally-sound social housing units with 2,300 new homes of which only 71 will be social housing;
  • the lack of any firm guarantees that any of the 400 mature trees on site will be retained;
  • the lack of any renewable energy in the proposed development;
  • the high number of parking spaces (678) and increased provision for road traffic proposed, in what is supposed to be a car-free development;
  • proposals for the new development to be controlled and managed by a private company.

We will also argue that the scheme has failed to deliver its promise to Heygate residents that they would be rehoused in the new development.

Tim Tinker, the original Heygate estate architect will be speaking in support of our objection. He will be arguing against the council’s claim that the estate was a design failure. There will also be other local residents and professionals speaking in support of our objection.

We will be quoting an opinion poll which showed that despite years of underinvestment, only 29% of residents were unhappy living on the estate and a majority were in favour of its refurbishment, along with crime statistics showing that the Heygate estate’s crime rate was nearly half the borough average.

You can download a full copy of the Heygate objectors’ Statement of Case from here..

And a copy of Better Elephant’s submission from here..