Southwark Council said supporting traders from the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre has “always been its main priority” in response to accusations it left some in the lurch with nowhere to go.  

See more: Protest as Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre closes

The shopping centre closed its doors after more than fifty years on September 24.  

Developer Delancey plans to demolish the centre to make way for nearly 1,000 new homes, a pedestrianised town centre, a new college building for the University of the Arts London, leisure and office space, as well as a new station. 

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.   

There has been a long-running dispute between campaigners against the plans and the developer.   

Southwark Council and Delancey say that all eligible traders have been relocated or offered new premises.   

But groups such as 35% Campaign and Latin Elephant say more than 40 traders have been left with nowhere to go. 

Campaigners protested by the shopping centre on the day it closed, chanting “homes for people, not for profit” and “Delancey in the bin”.  

They said Southwark Council valued the developer’s voice over residents’ and traders’.  

Locals also blasted the council and Delancey over the number of social homes on offer during a “housing crisis” .  

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In response, Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for climate emergency, planning and transport, said “supporting the small business and market traders in the lead up to closure and beyond has always been the council’s main priority”.  

“We pushed hard for the best possible outcome for traders, ensuring the developer made site provision and relocation funding available for them in its plans, and offering up an additional £200,000 in council funding for businesses which are yet to find new premises.  

“We understood that closure represented a hugely unsettling transition for the traders and employed an independent business advisor to support them through these changes, as well as helping find alternative sites.  

“The council has received a number of further options to consider and can confirm we will continue to work closely with the traders, the independent business advisor and relevant land owners to explore all possible options for relocation to ensure traders grow and develop with the area,” he said. 

Cllr Situ also said that in the original planning application “there were no plans for social homes on the site”.  

“But we pushed the developer for this to happen, and there are now 116 social rent homes to be built.  

“As well as this, with the additional support from the Mayor of London, 35 per cent of the 979 new homes will be affordable to people on average wages in the area.  

“We will always work hard to ensure that we achieve the maximum number of genuinely affordable homes possible in all new developments, and this commitment has meant that we have the largest number of social homes (783) started on site across London in the past financial year (April 2019 to April 2020),” he said.  

A spokesperson for Elephant and Castle Town Centre, led by Delancey, said: “We have always sought to find ways to protect and celebrate Elephant and Castle’s rich heritage and its diverse and vibrant community.  

“We believe the area’s independent businesses are central to this and we have worked closely with these traders to ensure any negative impact can be mitigated as far as possible.  

“Whilst we are aware of the plans proposed to the Mayor of London to relocate former shopping centre market traders to the roundabout nearby, we are unable to comment on the specifics as the land is not within our control.” 

The spokesperson did not comment on accusations there was not enough social housing.  

But she said: “We are very aware of the strain the capital’s housing provision is under, this is why we are delivering 979 rental homes on a site where currently none exist.  

“In addition, 35 per cent of these are affordable, which includes 116 social rented homes. The remainder will be a combination of London Living and Discounted Market Rents. 

“The volume of affordable housing has been scrutinised, as part of an open and transparent process by independent experts and specialists at both Southwark Council and the GLA.  

“Both concluded the proposals comfortably provide the maximum amount of affordable housing reasonably deliverable.”