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UAL Students Occupy University to Protest ‘Social Cleansing’

Since last Tuesday (23rd), students of the University of the Arts London (UAL) have occupied parts of the London College of Communication (LCC) in order to put pressure on the University to end its partnership with a multi-million-pound development plan for Elephant & Castle by Delancey Real Estate. In a statement on Facebook, they argue the plan is gentrifying the area – disproportionately “turfing out” BME and Latin businesses with negligible provision of social housing. The students are calling for the UAL to “come out in opposition to Delancey’s outrageous and destructive plan”.

Delancey’s development plan involves the demolishing of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, bowling alley and bingo hall, turning them into luxury flats and a new LCC campus. However, students, unions and local residents have objected to the deal that will replace 70 mostly BME-owned businesses, while only providing 3% of the new development to social housing. Since Delancey have partnered with the UAL to build a new LCC campus they have been able to reduce the proportion of social housing they must build to just 3% of the 1,000 new flats; despite Southwark council’s minimum threshold of 35% social housing in new developments in the area,

This is not the first redevelopment in Elephant & Castle. In 2011 the Heygate estate began being demolished and replaced by Lendlease’s Elephant Park. 3,000 local residents were ‘decanted’ out of the borough and despite Southwark council’s 35% social rent rule, no such rent was made available.

On the 19th of January, Southwark council rejected the development plan by four votes to three. With the council’s planning committee meeting ending at 2 a.m. that night. The discussion of ‘reasons for refusal’ was postponed until the 30th of January. Both UAL and Delancey have claimed that they will take this as an opportunity to contest the vote. In the meantime, the committee officers have published their draft reasons for the vote, ranking the lack of social housing provision as one of the “low” strength reasons for refusal.

On the night of the final council planning committee meeting this Tuesday, a ‘Carnival’ demonstration has been organised with the local community to ensure the council, Delancey and UAL respect the vote.

Since last Tuesday (23rd), students of the University of the Arts London (UAL) have occupied parts of the London College of Communication (LCC) in order to put pressure on the University to end its partnership with a multi-million-pound development plan for Elephant & Castle by Delancey Real Estate. In a statement on Facebook, they argue the plan is gentrifying the area – disproportionately “turfing out” BME and Latin businesses with negligible provision of social housing. The students are calling for the UAL to “come out in opposition to Delancey’s outrageous and destructive plan”.

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