Southwark Council is expected to approve a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre at a cabinet meeting this afternoon (April 7).  

Recommendations to approve £200,000 additional funding for traders who will be displaced by the billion-pound redevelopment, as well as a report overriding residents’ rights to challenge loss of light, will also be put before the cabinet.  

The CPO will be made on behalf of offshore developer Delancey, which plans to demolish the shopping centre to make way for a new pedestrianised town centre, 979 homes, a new college building for the University of the Arts London, leisure and office space and a new station. 

The shopping centre is due to shut on July 30 so the plans can go ahead.  

Of the homes proposed, 116 will be for social rent, charged at around £100 a week for a one-bedroom flat, while 53 will be available for the London Living Rent at about £150 a week.  

Another 161 will be available at up to 80 per cent of market prices. 

The rest will be at market rent – a one-bedroom is expected to cost about £2,000 a month.   

A crowdfunded campaign which challenged the decision to grant planning permission, specifically with regard to the number of homes available at social rent, lost its case at the high court in December 2019.  

In a foreword to the CPO report, Councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for growth, development and planning, said it was “necessary to see this scheme come forward by the developer to ensure all interests are resolved within the centre”.  

“The developer has already made considerable progress in acquiring the additional land needed but to avoid the position whereby it is unable to deliver the scheme because it cannot purchase any part of the site as a result of one or more landowners refusing to sell or demanding an unreasonable price to sell.  

“This can be achieved by the council exercising compulsory purchase powers if necessary and the recommendations in this report enable this to happen,” he said.  

Cllr Situ said exercising compulsory purchase powers was a “radical step” and that many checks and balances exist to make sure they are “not used inappropriately”.  

The report acknowledged that the compulsory purchase of land “involves a serious invasion of the private property rights of citizens”.  

“The power to dispossess a citizen of his land against his will is not a power to be exercised lightly and without good and sufficient cause.  

“The use of statutory authority for the destruction of property rights in this way requires to be most carefully scrutinised and must be based on the right legal principles, adequate evidence and proper consideration.  

“A CPO can only be confirmed when it is necessary in the public interest to do so.  

“There must be a clear case to justify depriving an owner of his land in the public interest,” it stated.  

The council’s position is that the benefits of the scheme, such as new homes and the creation of jobs, justifies the CPO.  

The £200,000 set aside for traders will be on top of S106 relocation funding of £634,700 to be secured from the developer.  

Cllr Situ said: “Over many years the centre has been home to a fantastic number of traders heralding from across the world, showcasing the strength of our borough’s diversity.  

“However, in recent years most will agree on the need for the renewal of the centre to fulfil the Elephant’s full potential.  

“In addition, as it stands the built form disconnects the heart of the Elephant from the communities around it.  

“The local community deserves better at this landmark location. 

“We have recognised from the outset that this change will be particularly challenging for independent traders.” 

He said the council has “successfully pressed” the developer for relocation funding for traders.  

“While many traders can now continue to trade in the area there are some that need further support in the period leading up to the closure of the centre at the end of July.  

“Following a deputation of traders on January 28 we announced the setting aside of an additional £200,000 for trader support from the council,” Cllr Situ said, adding that traders would also have access to Southwark Works, which offers career advice.  

A third item on the development, if approved, will remove residents’ right to take legal action over right-to-light.  

However, they will still be able to claim compensation “reflecting the loss in value to their property”.  

Cllr Situ said: “In line with the 2016 cabinet decision, it is necessary to see this scheme come forward for the developer to know that in doing so any third parties rights that are interfered with cannot stop the scheme proceeding. 

“It is recognised the consented scheme will cause some reduction in lighting to some nearby properties and we will expect the developer to engage to ensure there is full compensation for the infringement of rights […]” 

The cabinet meeting will start at 4.30pm via web video conference call.