Elephant and Castle
above: Elephant and Castle’s famous pink elephant. right: An artist’s impression of a revitalised Elephant and Castle street. far right: One of the area’s affordable housing developments, O-Central, is to the west of the railway viaduct.
Major change is once again visiting the Elephant and Castle. A powerful regeneration partnership and agreement between Southwark Council and developer Lend Lease enshrines a £1.5 billion masterplan to transform more than 10 hectares of the Elephant and Castle during the next 15 years. Twenty hectares were redeveloped after World War II bombing destroyed the area’s Georgian streets and homes. The Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, unique at the time, first flourished in 1965. The 1,212 flats on the high-density, slab-block Heygate Estate quickly emerged in the early 1970s. The Southwark-Lend Lease masterplan focuses on the now redundant Heygate, an iconic reminder of the optimistic rise – and depressing failure – of monolithic late 20th century British council estates. The first 98 Heygate units at Rodney Road were totally dismantled in summer 2012. Phased Heygate demolition will cost £12 million and take several years. Lend Lease Project director Rob Deck says: “The demolition of the Heygate estate is a major milestone. The Heygate plan is one of the most significant schemes of its type in Europe.” 52 issue 8 winter 2011/12
Arising out of the old estate will be one of London’s most exciting and vibrant quarters. This newly created urban environment will integrate living, shopping, downtime and work. Importantly, it will retain the Elephant and Castle’s distinctive and diverse south London identity. Lend Lease seeks to deliver 2,250 new homes and 14,000 square metres of retail space on the cleared Heygate’s 9.3-ha footprint. Another 250 units will be built at Rodney Road and at least 25% will be affordable housing, with half intermediate and half for social rent. The masterplan will also deliver a variety of new shops, restaurants, offices, workspaces, and leisure and community facilities by 2025. New public squares and streets will reflect the pre-war Georgian street pattern. Thoughtfully designed footpaths and seating will characterise reconnected streets currently severed east-west by the railway viaduct and north-south by the Heygate. The vast majority of the estate’s 3,000 residents have been rehoused. Southwark bought out 181 Heygate leaseholders for a total of about £20 million. And another
147 council tenants have a right to return in the future to the ‘new Heygate’. Deck says the development will represent a diversity of architectural styles. Up to a dozen different architects might be working on the scheme’s 11-12 plots. “We are committed to the whole area and are keen to establish the Elephant and Castle as a thriving and successful urban quarter,” says Deck. Local people are already genuinely helping to shape final plans to be submitted to Southwark Council next spring. Lend Lease appointed Soundlings to spur community involvement. A Consultation Hub gathers local feedback and hosts development exhibitions. Residents, businesses and community liaison groups regularly meet. Design principals for Rodney Road have already been exhibited by architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan (DRMM). Councillor Fiona Colley, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, says: “I’m pleased that local people are involved with what’s happening at each stage of the council’s project to transform Elephant and Castle. I look forward to plans for the new housing taking shape.” Lend Lease’s Heygate plans also act as the lynchpin for the transformation of Elephant and Castle’s wider core regeneration area. Several other major projects are either already complete or well under way. Thanks to another Southwark-Lend Lease deal, the Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre will be similarly transformed. Built in the 1970s with a 20-year life expectancy, the existing centre now, lamentably, has a collapsed roof and closed swimming pool. However, Southwark will sell part of the existing site to Lend Lease and use the receipts to build a new facility on adjoining land. The new leisure centre will open in 2014, boasting a six-lane swimming pool, sports hall, gym, dance studio and creche. In turn, Lend Lease will present plans to build a 30-storey residential tower on their section of the existing leisure centre site. Southwark Council appointed architects S&P to design the leisure centre. Lend Lease selected Squire and Partners for their housingled, mixed-use tower. Applications for both are expected in spring 2012. The much needed internal and external transformation of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre represents another landmark scheme. Key Property Investments (KPI), a joint venture between Salhia Real Estate and centre managers St Modwen, will transform the pink 21,800sq m shopping centre and the 8,400sq m Hannibal House office block. KPI’s ideas include anchor department stores, leisure facilities and new shops occupying expanded footplates inside a dramatically altered shell. KPI have appointed