Is Elephant and Castle a neighbourhood?

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Tuesday 5 April 2011 4.29pm
I'm prompted to post this by two things, first the new status for Bermondsey Neighbourhood Forum, second I was trying to contact the safer neighbourhood team, and find that the police website and officers disagree on what area my building (Strata) is.

Being at the meeting point of three wards, three postcodes and two boroughs has its disadvantages. I think we're in Newington Ward and the Walworth Community Council, and lots of the major issues in the area fall into Cathedrals. It doesn't help that few people seem to know where these mystery borders lie, and the maps online all show a vague meeting at the south roundabout, which no longer exists.

Elephant's regeneration is purported to make it a new centre for South London - I'd propose that we don't currently have the right political infrastructure to deliver that - if E&C is to be a neighbourhood and a community, then it needs voices that speak for it as a whole - not to be cut into slices by the roundabout.

I'd be interested to know if local people agree, and if they do I guess we should give some thought to what we might do about it?
Tuesday 5 April 2011 5.19pm
In my opinion it certainly is a neighbourhood, but this is a really interesting question, and I agree 100% about the divisive impact of the current ward boundaries.

Even the Community Council system splits it in two within Southwark by using wards as units (combining Newington/East Walworth to the south and Cathedrals/Chaucer to the north) - but arguably the neighbourhood should include parts of Lambeth too.

The forthcoming ELephant & Castle Special Planning Document (currently being developed, another consultation input planned in early summer) has a fairly tight definition of Elephant & Castle (here). In reality I would say it extents significantly further all round, but the issues that James has raised on the Bermondsey discussion are valid here too - overlaps are real, but seem to be impossible to address in planning documents....

One change that might happen is the merging of Borough & Bankside and Walworth Community Councils, which has been mentioned here. This might have the effect of moving the centre of gravity of each area more towards the E&C - or it might result in the focus remaining where it is to the detriment of E Walworth and Elephant.

Arguably the parliamentary constituency boundary is more appropriate as it includes E&C and a wider hinterland.

The impact of the current lack of focus was clear to me during the discussions about the "early housing" sites intended to house displaced residents of the Heygate. This was implemented in a way which ensured that there was no community voice speaking for the whole area (the previous community forum for the regeneration in the early 2000s having been taken to court and effectively disbanded by the council.)

The proposed new "regeneration forum" may help with this - Lend Lease seem to support the idea, but it needs to be supported by officers. And in my personal view officers are very happy having no community input and thus have no incentive whatever to make this happen. This is despite the recommendation of the Planning Inspector on the Southwark Plan (adopted 2007)that 'Consultation on the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle will be comprehensive, tripartite, involving the Council, the developer(s) and all relevant interests, including community groups' (

The impact of this issue was shown recently during the recent hoarding off of Elephant Park, a decision made and agreed in 2007, but for which council officers believe no further consultation or engagement was required, despite the massive delays to the neighbouring Oakmayne development (for which it is being used as a "welfare facility") and despite active use of the site by a latin american football league, which started snce 2007 (see here.)

The Elephant Amenity Network (of which I am a member) is a network of local people and businesses who are working for a regeneration that benefits local people (see here: and welcomes comments and thoughts on how best to represent the needs and massively diverse interests of the area in the face of the redevelopment of the area. To me this includes input from the community on how we want to see the area during the 15 year period (!) that works will be going on, as well as its final shape. The danger is that there will be 2km of hoardings around the Heygate Estate for years, and nothing more, unless we have a voice in the process.
Tuesday 5 April 2011 5.35pm
It would be the centre of a neighbourhood in most general senses (I think), IF there wasn't that blommin' great roundabout complex in the middle of it, preventing people from easily walking through it.

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 5 April 2011 6.05pm
Ivanhoe wrote:
It would be the centre of a neighbourhood in most general senses (I think), IF there wasn't that blommin' great roundabout complex in the middle of it, preventing people from easily walking through it.

One down, one to go!
Tuesday 5 April 2011 11.25pm
For Safer Neighbourhood, Strata should be in Newington Ward as adjoining Draper Estate falls under this. This would also mean all those ward Councillors would apply to you too.

Politically however I think E&C isn't a neigbourhood as such as we're right on the border. This was quite obvious for example during the leisure centre consultation which was mainly dealt with by cathedrals councillors as it will be standing on their turf, whilst we are only literally across the road.

In light of all the regeneration impacting all of the different wards splattered across the centre of E&C, we indeed should have a dedicated political neighbourhood I think.
Wednesday 6 April 2011 12.45am
Local segmentation does appear to be a mess. I live a bit north of the zone indicated in Luke's first link. Equally, it seems unclear how far south all those initiatives extend that fall under Brand Bankside. And if Borough & Bankside Community Council exists, I have yet to notice its presence.

Yours, curious of Cathedrals.
Wednesday 6 April 2011 12.09pm
Thanks guys - very informative posts. I'll try and come along to the Amenity Network next time Luke (though I can't make the 17th).

@Tak - you're right, we're in Newington ward, but the websites for Safer Neighbourhoods and Community Councils both said Walworth.
Thursday 21 April 2011 12.36pm
These public questions and answers from Tuesday's Southwark cabinet meeting are pertinent to the above discussion:

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Thursday 21 April 2011 2.29pm
One response (see quote below) in the page indicated by James above says that the council will make an announcement on public involvement in the E&C regeneration at the Walworth Community Council on 3rd May - but that they will issue invitations to groups to attend this "in early May".

Given this, it would be great if people can attend this meeting and let others know about it. The meeting is at 1830 in Darwin Court, which is 1 Crail Row, SE17 1AD. Agenda is here.

The response also says this announcement will be made at B&B CC meeting on the same date, but there is nothing on the published agenda (yet) for that meeting.

Response from S Council wrote:
The proposed regeneration forum expands on the concept of a steering group to more fully involve the wider public and community in the consultation process. Representatives of Lend Lease along with council officers will be attending Walworth and Borough & Bankside Community council meetings on 3 May to talk about the launch of the Regeneration Forum which is planned for the end of May. Invitations to attend this event will be issued in early May to groups within the area and there will be information about it on the Lend Lease website
Monday 23 May 2011 1.41pm
I thought I'd bump this back to life as James H tweeted this paper from the council proposing to reduce the number of Community Councils from 8 to 5.

Options 1 or 2 would seem to solve a lot of my issues with the current boundaries of the Elephant (within Southwark at least) - reasserting it as a political as well as commercial centre.
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