Elephant & Castle northern roundabout: ‘peninsula’ plan in jeopardy
Mayor of London Boris Johnson will next week be questioned about why Transport for London is blocking plans to remodel the northern roundabout at Elephant & Castle.
Since at least 2004 the development masterplan for Elephant & Castle has envisaged the creation of a new civic square at the junction of New Kent Road, St George's Road and London Road, with a new 'peninsula' providing escalator access to an expanded Northern line tube station.
Southwark Council's deputy chief executive Eleanor Kelly last week told a town hall scrutiny committee that Transport for London had blocked the plan because it would slow down road traffic too much.
She said that TfL's network assurance team "can't allow that because it would interfere with the traffic flow too greatly".
Two years ago Boris Johnson had publicly backed the civic square proposal during an exchange at mayor's question time.
"Look at the Elephant & Castle," said the Mayor. "Look what they could do there. That would be fantastic. This peninsula. Turning the first island into a peninsula. It would be amazing."
Now London Assembly member Val Shawcross has tabled a new question to Mr Johnson reminding him of his earlier enthusiasm and asking him if he will help to get the civic square proposal back on track.
Without the creation of the pedestrian peninsula it won't be possible to install escalators at the Northern line entrance to Elephant & Castle tube station so extra lifts would be the only way to increase capacity at the already busy interchange.
The future of the northern roundabout is a crucial test of how Transport for London reconciles the differing needs of pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users and motorists.
Southwark's director of regeneration Steve Platts told the committee that "even within the TfL family there are competing views as to what the transport priorities should be at Elephant & Castle".
But he insisted that whatever happened with the civic square, there was agreement between TfL and the council that surface-level pedestrian crossings should replace the current subways at the northern junction.
Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration, said that she didn't hold out much hope for the peninsula proposal whilst Boris Johnson was still mayor but would be raising the matter with Labour candidate Ken Livingstone to seek his backing.
Lib Dem Cathedrals ward councillor David Noakes said that the civic square was a "crucial part of the original vision" for Elephant & Castle and he would be "very concerned" if the council had given up on the idea.
"I feel that that vision is slowly being chipped away at," he said.
• If Ms Shawcross's question is not answered at Mayor's Question Time next Wednesday, a written answer will be published on Monday 20 June.