I agree, the square lines of the original design are quite attractive....
It's the unnecessary cladding which makes it look so awful now. Also, perhaps the angle of the picture is misleading, but market in the pit around the edge of the shopping centre makes it a bit more unpleasant - the picture makes it look a bit more open and inviting, a bit more light makes it more attractive.
I must confess I love the shopping centre. I go through the tunnel from MCH, dont need to cross a road, and anything I absolutely must have is there...basic food, chemists, DIY stuff, newspapers, stationery, Clark's shoes, watch batteries, wonderful Peacocks, ATMs, and the odd greasy spoon...I know it's not Sloane Street but I couldnt afford Sloane Street anyway. It could indeed be a more aesthetic experience, but I'm quite impressed by the way the security guys keep it safe and it's generally clean and pleasant.
I think the worst things about the shopping centre are the run-down exterior and the market area around it. Nothing wrong wrong with the market per-se but its very cramped and grotty. If the area was repaved, painted and maybe some better market stalls provided it would be a lot better. The actual interior of the centre is dated, but fine.
This is a joke. They have every option to do what they need to, what they promised to do and what they were elected to do - and are caving in.
I've had a lot of patience for the new administration (because I don't really think the councillors are the problem, its our officials) but this makes me furious.
The redevelopment of Heygate as proposed will not work with the shopping centre in place - they need to open up the old walworth road route and make the area more permeable - I just can't see how that can be done with a refurbishment.
When Lend Lease were invited to a meeting to hear the views of some local residents and traders and amenity group members, it was clear that of the four possible options they outlined for the shopping centre, refurbishment was the one that seemed most likely.
Sounds like they've just abandoned some of the original parts of the regeneration plan is favour of a quick and cheaper fix. They seemed to think that the independent Oakmayne Plaza development at New Kent Rd will now provide some of the market and retail spaces. They also seemed to have ditched the original plan for a Walworth Town Square too.
Although at the meeting they stressed that no Masterplan has been decided, what they seemed to be planning was cramming the Heygate site with dense blocks of townhouse-style dwellings centered around small streets and 'semi-private parks'. They want to create 2500 homes on the site.
It was clear from the meeting that they had no understanding of the area - who lives here, the history, what makes the fabric of the area and so on - and they just see it as a prime slab of SE1 land.
Their idea of consultation and listening is also laughable. Sitting through the presentation was like being transported back to school. Rob Deck, LL Project Director outlined how LL wanted The Elephant to be 'a great place for people'. The words he used to sum this up were 'authentic, inspiring, vibrant, connected, safe and cohesive'. The rest of the presentation continued in this fashion of meaningless developer speak. It was in no way re-assuring that they even know who and how people live in the area and in what ways people use the area in the everyday. New homes and new shops do not make the community, they have to settle and join in with the already existent community which has been developed organically over years.
The Elephant Amenity Network who invited LL to their monthly meeting has been seeking from LL and the Council some sort of forum that enables residents and traders input to the creation of the Masterplan but also access to information which has always been sorely lacking in the process. They are also planning a Visioning Event in June open to all to listen and discuss ideas and strategies around numerous topics that need local people's input: housing, transport, open spaces, retail, employment, interim use, transparency and so on.
It's vital at this stage, pre-Masterplan, that everyone holds LL and the Council accountable to the numerous promises that have been made. How to avoid the creation of a soul-less Barratt homes blob on the former Heygate site and ensure that what makes the wider Elephant area actually a living neighbourhood is not destroyed? Well, the answer to that one is to insist that consultation and listening means more than simply hearing what is said and actually taking in and acting on what has been heard from local people.
I'd add that the previous master planning work really seemed very good in it's intention to link in Walworth Road and the station area with the wider neighbourhood. I Know density is controversial, but I think it's appropriate there, and the large square/park/market at the centre really could have been a good focal point for the whole district.
Very depressing that for the sake of getting something done a bit quicker they are going to let this chance pass by and leave us with a 60s shopping centre and a large housing estate.