One of the undisputable upsides to regeneration is the number of ‘new’ community facilities like the ‘new’ library at Canada Water and ‘new’ leisure centre at Elephant and Castle. However, what is easily forgotten is that old libraries and leisure centres were demolished and sold off to make way for the new ones.
Former Rotherhithe library & civic centre (left), former E&C leisure centre (right)
What is also forgotten is the cost of these new facilities and who pays for them. Southwark likes to claim that the new facilities are funded by financial contributions from developers, but the reality is that this funding represents just a fraction of the cost of the new facilities. The ‘Castle’ leisure centre at the Elephant cost nearly £30m to build, towards which regeneration partner Lend Lease is contributing just £3.5m - in fact the Council agreed this payment in-lieu of Lend Lease’s ‘One the Elephant’ development providing any affordable housing. The new Canada Water library cost £14m to build which was entirely Council funded - no contribution from developers whatsoever.
The new library and health centre to be built on the redeveloped Aylesbury estate are direct replacements for the existing medical centre which is being demolished and the East St library and Wells Way library which are being closed. Furthermore, the new library and health centre is being entirely funded by Southwark Council. Its development partners Notting Hill and Barratt Homes are not making any contribution towards them at all.
Aylesbury Medical Centre, East St Library, Wells Way Library, Aylesbury Learning Centre
Planning application documents show the extent of the community facilities being lost through the Aylesbury estate’s redevelopment.
Likewise, the new Camberwell library is a replacement of the one that was closed down in 2015 and has been funded exclusively by the Council.
Former Camberwell library (left), new Camberwell library (right)
Selling Southwark’s adult care services
The Council’s budget for regeneration is one of its largest outgoings. This year it is spending £23m on the Aylesbury estate regeneration alone. Meanwhile, the Council is making drastic cuts to other services and frantically selling off premises used by them.
For example, the Council has cut a staggering £39m from the current year’s budget for education and adult care services alone. Here are some of the adult services buildings that have been, or are being sold off or closed down by the Council’s current (Labour) administration:
It is not just adult services that are being subject to ‘modernisation’. Southwark has sold off both Bermondsey and Peckham Town Halls; Harper Rd Social Services Centre; Castle Day Centre; Whitstable Day Nursery; Abbey St Children’s Home; Willowbrook Community Centre and the Wansey St Homeless Hostel:
Besides selling off its community and social services facilities, the Council has been busy selling off its council estates, its Town Halls and street properties. In 2009, Southwark Council introduced a policy of selling off every council home that becomes void and is valued above £400,000. In 2011 this was reviewed by the incoming Labour administration which reduced the threshold to £300,000. Here are some of the properties sold at auction by the current (Labour) administration under this policy:
The Council has not just been selling off council homes, it has also been selling off commercial and other properties it owns.
For example it owns a number of pubs in the borough. This is the Oriwu Spot pub on Champion Hill in East Dulwich, which the Council sold to developers for £170k in 2012.
Oriwu Spot pub - sold by the Council to developers in 2012 for redevelopment
This is the Uxbridge arms on the Rockingham estate at Elephant & Castle. It was sold by the Council to developers in 2013 for just £400k. It is currently being demolished
Uxbridge Arms on Rockingham estate - sold by the Council to developers
This is what will replace the Uxbridge Arms - 100% private housing. Not one of the new homes in this 6-storey block will be in any way affordable.
Development replacing the Uxbridge Arms - 100% private market housing
The Council has also sold off the Royal Standard pub on Harper Road and given planning consent for its redevelopment as private residential flats.
Royal Standard Pub on Harper Road
This is the former Harper rd childrens services office, which the Council has sold off to developers:
This is Council owned-land on Ilderton road (formerly leased) which it is selling off to developers:
This is 48 Willowbrook road which the Council is planning to sell at auction in summer 2016.