London: Elephant & Castle, A Review
Once regarded for its thriving shopping areas and referred to as ‘the Piccadilly Circus of South London' by locals in the years before the war, Elephant and Castle has been undergoing a dramatic property comeback. Like so much of London today the area is working to establish itself as one of London's best places to invest and live.
Starting in 2004 £1.5 billion in new plans were presented to restore the Elephant to the role of major urban commercial and residential area for South London. An additional boost came from the £4 billion capital commitment from former London mayor and now Prime Minister Mayor Boris Johnson and the Roads Task Force to be used in road improvements for Elephant and Castle and other locations in London.
Boris Johnson, commenting on the infrastructure improvements at the time said :
"Smarter design of our roads and public spaces, exemplified by our radical plans for Elephant & Castle, will play a key role in ensuring that London remains the best big city to live, work and invest. We've been hard at work putting the bold and imaginative blueprint of the Road's Task Force into practice and we're now seeing the fruits of that labour at key locations across the capital.”
Jeremy Leach, Chair of Living Streets, said that the changes meant Elephant & Castle could now be revived:
"For 50 years pedestrians and cyclists have been intimidated by fast moving traffic which pushed them to the margins of what used to be the thriving Piccadilly Circus of the south and has left them as an after thought. The plan to remove the northern roundabout at the Elephant & Castle is welcome and, if done properly to provide a truly safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists, these changes can help to encourage many more people to walk and cycle through the area every day.”
Additionally, the Northern Line extension from Kennington to the new Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station tube stations are close enough to help give Elephant & Castle a boost for the popularity of its location.
Since 2010 Australian-based Lendlease working with the Southwark Council submitted plans for a £2.3 billion regeneration and is now being developed in phases with the first phase South Gardens already completed. Additional regeneration phases include Elephant Park, residential Trafalgar Place (completed in 2015) and One The Elephant. Completion of all the developments is expected by 2025.
The developers describe the Elephant & Castle area:
‘The area has been an important part of London since Roman times, whether as a transport junction, a hub for entertainment and shopping or a place to call home. The project will breathe new life into this special part of Central London, building on Elephant & Castle’s heritage and creating thousands of high quality new homes, jobs, business opportunities and green space for Londoners.’
The South London development of Elephant Park upon completion is will provide 3,000 new homes with 25% being affordable and employ 6,000 with 5,000 for construction and 1,000 for when the development is finished.
A 2-acre park will be providing green space expected to last almost 70 years with the project being the ‘UK’s first Climate Positive development when completed.’
Plans include 500,000 sq. feet of commercial and workspace with spaces for 50 new shops, cafes and retail outlets.
Trafalgar Place features seven buildings, four to seven stories, with 235 homes designed by Rijke Marsh Morgan described for residents as ‘designed to sit naturally within, and feel part of, its immediate surroundings. They take advantage of their connectedness to the streets and landscaping, to the wider community, to the local area’s rich history and, ultimately, to the rest of London.’
The 37-storey tower of One The Elephant features a four-storey pavillion and 284 homes ‘...providing new business space and active frontages, improvements to a local park and the facilitation of a new state-of-the-art community leisure centre.’
South Gardens features a 16-storey with 22 townhomes describing the homes as ‘stylishly designed with detailed and elegant brick facades to create a new, coherent streetscape.’ The townhouses feature ‘...are designed in the style of traditional London townhouses, with bay windows, Juliet balconies and private terraces, leading out to landscaped courtyards with play areas for children.’
Lendlease has other developments including Google’s new UK headquarters in King’s Cross and the £1.5bn Smithfield development in Birmingham.