How Elephant & Castle is leading London regeneration

£3bn of investment is putting Elephant & Castle at the forefront of London regeneration

If you've been to Elephant and Castle, your first thoughts when you hear the name are probably of the roundabout and the bright pink shopping centre.

Both of those landmarks are being regenerated.If you don't know the area, it's fair to say Elephant and Castle used to be a place people passed by on the way to somewhere else.

But soon, it's going to be a destination in its own right. Today travellers cross the roundabout towards the City of London or the West End. Not for much longer.

If you visit Elephant and Castle in 10 years time, you're more likely to leave comparing it to Manhattan's glassy skyscrapers than to the concrete jungle it represented from the 1960s onwards.

By 2025, the Elephant and Castle you know today will be barely recognisable. That's because of the extent of the regeneration taking place.

£3 billion of Elephant and Castle regeneration is being invested in:

  • 2,500 new homes in Elephant Park and 373 more in Elephant Road
  • Redeveloping the Elephant and Castle shopping centre
  • The reinvention of the town centre offering
  • £20m new leisure centre completes 2015
  • £250m for in local education and culture improvements
  • 5 new green spaces for residents
  • A new Northern line tube entrance & ticket hall
  • A new cutting-edge university campus for the London College of Communication
  • Enhanced outside spaces.

Meet Elephant & Castle's tallest buildings

London is entering the age of the skyscraper and Southwark is hot on the heels of The City's towers. The borough is already home to The Shard which at 309m became the tallest building in western Europe in 2012, and there are many more approved or under construction.

With so much development underway, it's obvious that big things are happening in Southwark. More than 40% of the borough is undergoing some kind of regeneration. It should come as no surprise then that last year Southwark's property prices rose by 21.1%. That figure's even more impressive when you know that's the third highest price rise of all the London boroughs.

Elephant & Castle's tallest buildings:

  • Strata SE1, 148m, 2010
  • 360 Tower, 134m, under construction
  • One the Elephant, 124m, under construction
  • The Highwood, Elephant Park, 104.8m, under construction

Concrete past to green futures

The name Elephant and Castle were derived from a local coaching inn which featured an elephant with a castle on its back. A bronze statue of this can be seen in the shopping centre today. The area's true name is Newington but the elephant became such a local landmark the name has stood the test of time. It is mentioned as far back as the medieval period when the area was part of rural Surrey.

London has expanded rapidly since then, and what was once Surrey is now part of inner London, a prime Zone 1 location.  A short glance at the travel times to London's top destinations will convince you of this.

But other areas of London have benefitted from London's growth more than Elephant and Castle. For example, property prices in Hammersmith rocketed last year despite only being in Zone 2. This is due in the most part to the reputation of the Elephant & Castle as a collection of concrete in an otherwise excellent location.

The Heygate Estate was one such concentration of neo-brutalist concrete blocks, that came to represent all that was wrong with post-war housing. The Heygate Estate has now been demolished. Elephant Park will take its place. Local people will benefit from an improved physical environment with tree-lined streets, high-quality open spaces and a largely traffic free environment. They will also enjoy access to more local jobs and training opportunities, new cultural and leisure facilities.

Elephant Park will still have tall high rise residential buildings, but they will be centred around green courtyards and rooftop gardens. And further escaping its concrete past, each home will be designed to achieve exemplary sustainability standards.

Elephant and Castle's past may have been grey but its future's green.

Brett Alegre-Wood
August 17, 2016

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