Southwark Council has issued compulsory purchase orders to the remaining three leaseholders on the Heygate Estate and announced an agreement with Crossway United Reformed Church which owns the freehold of its site on New Kent Road.
Whilst the 1,200-home estate is nearly empty, three leaseholders have chosen not to accept offers from the council to buy out their interest in the properties. These residents have now been sent formal notices of the compulsory purchase order and given 28 days to lodge their objections.
Whilst the council claims it has been "reasonable and flexible" in its dealings with the remaining property owners, Adrian Glasspool, spokesman for the Heygate Leaseholders Group, says that the compulsory purchase "will result in us being dispossessed of our homes and permanently priced out of central London".
He added: "We will be exercising our right to object to the order on the grounds that we are being dispossessed by proposals which are not in the public interest: the new development is proposing no social rented housing or renewable energy provision.
"It will see road traffic prioritised, the loss of over 300 trees and the creation of a monolithic private gated fortress of skyscrapers."
An inquiry to consider the leaseholders' objections could be held by the end of the year and a final decision on whether to grant the compulsory purchase orders will rest with communities secretary Eric Pickles.
The council last month approved plans to spend £15 million on the demolition of the existing Heygate Estate buildings. The buildings south of Heygate Street are likely to be demolished first with Ashenden, the block which faces New Kent Road, as part of the second phase of demolition.
The only part of the Heygate Estate not owned by the council is the Crossway United Reformed Church near the corner of New Kent Road and Rodney Place. The existing church is well-used by a variety of congregations and community organisations.
The council says it has "agreed to provide Crossway Church with a brand new building on a site at the heart of Elephant and Castle, subject to planning approvals".
The London SE1 website understands that the council is considering the Castle Resource Centre site in Hampton Street, near the Strata SE1 tower, as the likely new home of the church and community centre.
The church's minister, Revd Dr Peter Stevenson, told the London SE1 website: "It's an ideal opportunity to update our facilities and design a space for multi-congregational use.
"As a church we are delighted that we've been able to work closely with Southwark to produce a solution that will enable the community, church and congregation to benefit from the redevelopment opportunities at Elephant & Castle."
The council says that some walkways and entrances to the estate are being blocked off "for public safety" and it will continue its controversial efforts to remove graffiti from the estate.
"The speed of progress at Elephant & Castle is remarkable," said Southwark Council leader Peter John.
"The Heygate Estate is at the centre of the ambitious plans for this central location. I'm delighted that soon local people will see the long-awaited demolition begin and new homes appear for them.
"This will drive up the local economy and create better places for people to live, work and enjoy."
• An outline planning application by Lend Lease, the council's development partner, is currently being considered by planning officers and is expected to be determined by the borough's planning committee before the end of the year.
• Alternative proposals for the redevelopment of Elephant & Castle by London Metropolitan University architecture students will be exhibited at Crossway United Reformed Church on Friday and Wednesday.
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