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Council shelves Old Kent Road bail hostel plan

Southwark Council has withdrawn controversial proposals to relocate a bail hostel from the Aylesbury Estate to the Old Kent Road.

The 'approved premises' at Ellison House – popularly known as a bail hostel – is used by the probation service to help ex-offenders readjust to society following a prison sentence.

The current building is due to be demolished as part of the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate and the council proposed to relocate the hostel to the corner of Old Kent Road and Rotherhithe New Road.

1,200 people signed a petition opposing the plans. Just two days before the petition was due to be presented to a meeting of Southwark's council assembly, the borough's Labour administration announced a U-turn on the proposal.

"I would like to thank residents and local businesses for participating in our consultation," said Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration.

"It was always the council's aim to be open and transparent in conversations about the relocation about Ellison House, and local feedback has been a crucial factor in our decision-making.

"What has been evident from the conversations that I, and colleagues, have had with local people is the strength of local feeling regarding the need for regeneration of the Old Kent Road. I have taken this on board and have asked officers to consider alternative plans for this prominent site as well as the wider area.

"One thing we are considering is bringing more affordable housing to the area, and we hope to consult on our plans later this year."

South Bermondsey Lib Dem councillor Graham Neale said: "This is fantastic news. Bermondsey residents know where they can come when they need help, and they know we'll back them 100 per cent.

"We're going to carry on working with the local community to get a better deal for the Old Kent Road, and will be listening to residents about the future of this area."

Cllr Paul Kyriacou added: "There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes on this, which has clearly paid dividends. I hope this marks a point where the council will start considering a more ambitious vision for the Old Kent Road. This site is in a prime spot and could be home to something iconic for the area."

Cllr Michael Bukola said: "This was completely the wrong site for this hostel. There has been a really strong local campaign by councillors and residents to stop this, which has thankfully made the council see sense."

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