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' (188.8.131.52)
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.