Posts Tagged ‘Southwark’

Up the Elephant

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

A quick trip on the Bakerloo line took me from elephants in Cavendish Square to the Elephant, where Southwark Notes, Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant were holding their Love the Elephant Street Celebration.

For generations the Elephant & Castle has been a lively South London hub, its nature changing over the years. The country’s first shopping mall was built here in 1955 on the site of a bomb-damaged estate, and while showing its age is still more interesting than most, and one that both reflects and caters for the local community, increasingly Latin-American, as well as largely older bingo-playing local residents.

Shopping malls are generally pretty soulless places, and on going inside you transition from whichever town or city you were into some strange limbo of franchises and chains. The few with a little more character are some of the older ones, usually incorporating market traders and other small local businesses, while the more recent examples have little to offer except the same as every other more recent mall.

Virtually the only reason I ever enter them is to search for the public toilets most offer, which usually involves a long trek following often confusing signage designed to take you past every retail outlet en-route.

Not of course that the Elephant shopping centre is perfect, far from it. It is certainly showing its age and needs improvement, and it has been deliberately run down by its owners to promote the redevelopment.

But campaigners say it should be redeveloped with the local community in mind while the developers Delancey working with Southwark Council and the London College of Communications, seem largely concerned with maximising their profits from the scheme.

Years of campaigning by local community groups has resulted in some minor improvements to the proposals – including more social housing, though it remains to be seen if this will actually happen.

Although the plans were finally approved last December, the campaing goes on, to keep the shopping centre alive until it is demolished and to get fairer treatment of the existing traders. Some have been promised space in the new development, but sometimes only a small fraction of their current area, and the campaign want all to be made offers on a ‘like for like’ basis, with an increase in the relocation fund.

More at Love the Elephant.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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Cold spell – no heating

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Southwark are perhaps the worst of London’s councils so far as their housing policies are concerned, though they face stiff opposition from others. But their demolition of the Heygate estate next to the Elephant & Castle is hard to beat for its combination of lies, total disregard for residents, loss of social housing, veniality and sheer incompetence and has been well-recorded on local blogs. It is a truly sad story for any local council, and particularly for a council dominated – as most of London’s councils are – by the Labour party, which currently holds 49 or the 63 seats with the only opposition being the 14 Lib Dems.

The Aylesbury estate is more or less immediately south of the former Heygate in Walworth, and is said to be the largest public housing estate in Europe, with 2700 homes built between 1963 and 1977. It contains a mixture of huge blocks like those in the picture below and much smaller and lower ones. Residents turned down a plan to pass the estate over to a housing association in 1999 and in a later ballot turned down Southwark’s plans for demolition, calling instead for the much cheaper minor works needed to refurbish each property up to modern standards.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Southwark Council had failed to carry out much necessary maintenance, and although the varied properties were generally well designed and built, the estate was allowed to deteriorate. Like the Heygate it was also used to house people with various problems including mental health and drug use and gained a notorious reputation, very much exaggerated by its use for filming a number of TV crime series.

The lack of proper maintenance has continued into this century, and residents feel it has worsened since the council made the decision to demolish the estate, parts of which have already been emptied and destroyed, to be replaced by properties at expensive market rents or the unaffordable ‘affordable’ rents at around 80% of market rates. Few of the Aylesbury residents can afford to take up any of the new properties, and are forced to move to the outer areas of London.

The Aylesbury was built with a central boiler house to run an energy-efficient district heating scheme. Because of the council’s failure to properly maintain this, there are repeated breakdowns in cold periods of winter such as that we had just been suffering. Residents either freeze or rely on expensive electric heating. One of those who spoke told how she had put £20 into her prepayment meter only for it to run out a day later; another told of having reported the heaters in her flat for six months without the council coming to maintain them.

Residents are convinced that Southwark council have been purposefully neglecting their well built homes to justify the demolition of the estate and bully the residents out against a ballot result which called for refurbishment rather than demolition. They protested outside the local housing office for over an hour, calling for someone from the council to come out and speak to them. No one came out and security men prevented the protesters from going inside.

Southwark Council claimed in a statement to a regional TV programme which covered the protest that they were doing their best to keep the heating going, but no-one on the Aylesbury believes them.

More at Aylesbury residents protest lack of heating


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images