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Elephant & Castle: Southwark Council publishes draft planning policy

Southwark Council has published a draft of its new planning policy which will shape the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle over the next 10 to 15 years.

The document sets out how the borough intends to meet City Hall targets for the development of 4,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs in the area.

On Tuesday afternoon the borough's cabinet agreed to publish the draft of the Elephant & Castle Supplementary Planning Document/Opportunity Area Planning Framework for a period of public consultation this winter.

The document covers a wide area which includes Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in the west, St George's Circus in the north, Harper Road in the east and all of Walworth Road down to the Albany Road junction (but excluding the Aylesbury Estate).

"The regeneration of the Elephant & Castle is about a lot more than just the Heygate and the shopping centre," Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration, told her cabinet colleagues on Tuesday.

"There are opportunities to improve the entire area and I think it's important to remember that there are opportunities on Walworth Road, the two university campuses, Newington Causeway... It's not only about our site."

She added: "One of the important things in the SPD is the transport issue. We know that we do need to solve the issue of the Northern line station entrance and the very high cost of expanding the capacity at the station.

"As we have argued for some time, it is very important that the cost of that is spread across all developments in the area.

"The SPD introduces a strategic transport tariff to ensure that all developments coming forward in the area will make a contribution towards the cost of that."

The document reveals that Transport for London says that installing extra lifts in the Northern line ticket hall at Elephant & Castle will cost in the region of 85 million. Southwark Council would prefer escalators but that would be even more expensive and require more land.

Reconfiguring the northern roundabout to include surface-level pedestrian crossings is priced at 10 million while another 10 million scheme will banish private cars from London Road and reinstate two-way traffic to St George's Road.

The council estimates that its new tariff could raise around 50 million for transport improvements over the next 20 years, so it will have to work with Transport for London and developers to bridge the gap.

The document also calls for the pedestrianisation of Keyworth Street and the creation of better pedestrian and cycle routes throughought the area.

Cllr Colley was keen to emphasise that the new document doesn't represent a radical change of strategy for the area.

"I do want to stress that this is an updating of the existing vision for the Elephant & Castle," she said.

"We aren't casting out previous visions and creating something new. It is, in large part, an update of existing plans. We've had quite a lot of changes in national and regional planning policy since the SPG in 2004 and the SPD in 2008."

Cllr Colley highlighted the impact of the Mayor of London's London View Management Framework which, by introducing a new protected view from the Serpentine Bridge in Hyde Park, meant that the council's original assumptions about tall buildings on the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre site had to be revisited.

She added that the document "sets out that that the Elephant & Castle isn't just one homogeneous area but has different character areas": the zone covered by the draft policy has been divided into nine sections.

There are proposals for new conservation areas in the Elliots Row area (SE11) and around Larcom Street (SE17).

Elephant & Castle buildings which could be 'locally listed'

As part of the process of drawing up the draft SPD, the council has identified a number of buildings which could be placed on a 'local list' of structures of historical and architectural interest. These include:

• Metro Central Heights (formerly Alexander Fleming House)
Crown and Anchor pub, New Kent Road
Elephant & Castle Underground Station (Bakerloo line entrance)
Notre Dame RC Girls' School, St George's Road
• The Albert Arms pub, Gladstone Street
Siobhan Davies Studios, St George's Road
Prince of Wales pub, St George's Road

The consultation period on the draft policy is open until 7 February 2012; a programme of exhibitions and events will be announced soon.

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