While we're all waiting for the Elephant & Castle regeneration to start (and it's still a long way off), the area is falling into a shocking state of disrepair. The shopping centre and its surrounding subways are becoming truly incredible: filthy, crumbling, almost unusable. And yet it's the only commercial resource for this community. Pavements are broken, walls are filthy, rubbish mounts up and now the shopping centre seems to have become a drug-dealing centre. Nice touch.
It seems that any idea of maintaining the Elephant has been put on hold while people make their minds up about the (distant) future. So are we going to see the Elephant sink even further as the regeneration hits stalemate again? It was bad before, but the level of neglect since the regeneration came back on to the agenda a couple of years ago is shocking.
Why is this allowed to happen? Who is NOT doing their job? What are their excuses? What can we do? Any ideas gratefully received.
It is less than a year since the pavements around elephant were all repaved in granite blocks.
A couple of years since the subways all got new signeage.
New landscaping, planting and paths for the north roundabout and new street lighting too. The Leisure centre has also been refurbished (although there are long term plans for a new centre).
I agree that the general perception is still not exactly "chelsea", but I think it is unfair to say there is no investment by the council.
The shopping centre has seen a new 10-pin bowling facility and bingo, and a new Italian Restaurant. The coronet has been refurbished this year.
Whilst I would not choose to visit any of these places, it seems that the business community is trying too.
Yes, and how long was the Coronet in business for? Closed after a few months. And when is the new tube station going to open? Alright, these thing's aren't necessarily Southwark's fault, but it's symptomatic of the blight that affects the area.
I went along to some of the Community Councils earlier this year, where local people are empowered to chose things like where trees can be planted and bins sited. For administrative purposes E&C is lumped together with the Borough and Bankside. It's very interesting listening to discussions involving other areas within Southwark. Bankside and the Borough have very vocal and well organised residents/tenants associations who are skilled at getting a good deal for their neighbourhoods. E&C seems very poorly represented by comparison, and even Council officers and other agencies only talk about E&C in the context of high crime figures or bad housing.
Other parts of Southwark are really blossoming - have you visited the Bellenden regeneration area in Peckham? Street lights & signs designed by Tom Philips and Anthony Gormley, whole streets with a (heavily) subsidised re-building programme of roof repairs, new windows and doors, street furniture, etc. Looks fantastic.
So yes, the Elephant is really suffering by comparison. It's our turn for a make-over.
Interesting point about Tenants & Residents Associations. There are some TRAs in the Elephant area - but fewer than there might be, because of the insurmountable difficulties of working with the council & the housing assocs on positive, proactive projects.
My experience of TRAs (admittedly jaded) is that a lot of effort, money & goodwill goes into setting them up (with the full support of Southwark's excellent Community Development officers), then, once they actually start representing the views & aspirations of local people, they're met with nay-saying and stubborn non-co-operation by individual housing offices. So what happens? People get disillusioned, numbers drop and TRAs fold.
We're now in the grip of almost total apathy. People don't trust the council, they don't trust residents' groups.
Perhaps it's different in other areas, where there are more active, vocal advocates and more people used to asking for and getting what they want. In E&C: brick wall. Head.