South London scheme may be forced to fund rail link 3km away

The Elephant and Castle scheme may be unfairly hit by Crossrail funding requirements, according to Southwark council.

Simon Bevan, interim head of planning and transport at Southwark, said it was unfair that developers would have to pay a development levy when the rail scheme would bring minimal benefits to the Elephant. Europe's largest regeneration project is 3km away from the nearest Crossrail improvement.

The GLA plans to raise £200m of funding for the £15.9bn infrastructure project by levying £213 per sq m tax on major developments over 500 sq m (net) of office space. The area hit is defined by the boundary of the Central Activities Zone (CAZ) originally set out in the London plan.

“There is an arc of activity where the main benefits will be felt, but parts of Southwark are within the CAZ boundary,” Bevan told the London Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee on Monday. “Elephant does not have a direct connection to Crossrail. There should be some distinction between high land value areas and places such as this.”

But the GLA’s head of the London Plan, Andrew Barry-Purssell said that there could be flexibility to mitigate the levy. “If a case can be made, that’s something that can be renegotiated,” he said.

The levy was initially to be placed on developments 800m from Crossrail improvements but deputy mayor, Sir Simon Milton said that imposing the levy on the CAZ spread the cost and simplified it.

Planning Committee member, Liberal Democrat, Mike Tuffrey, said extending the 800m rule to include the CAZ was a “logical step too far.” “I don’t understand why the CAZ is being taken as the basis of this levy when it was developed for another purpose,” he said.