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Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre to endure

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Current: 7 of 16
Friday 8 April 2011 3.11pm
Jamesup, thank you for finding this out and posting the details. It is incredible to me that all this is coming out through individual posts on the SE1 website and not through formal information and consultation - though I am grateful it is coming out somewhere! (though of course the shopping centre is in SE17...)

The council appear to have given the Elephant and Castle.org website, which was their previous communications focus, to Lend Lease, but have abdicated completely from their own communications responsibilities.

We have still not been given the promised reference group, apparently the way to involve the public in these decisions, which promised in 2007 as a key part of the implementation of the regeneration programme and a quid pro quo for some very unpopular decisions about land use changes.

And yet here we are with the key decisions - which are massive changes from the previous concept - being presented as a fait accompli.

The next step must be to document all the objectives and community benefits of the regeneration as stated in the last time any documents were consulted on (2007 I think) and see which if any are left.

Whatever you think of the shopping centre, remember that the entire regeneration in 2007 was founded on the principle - which was trumpeted loudly by council officers - of not having a shopping centre, but having a town centre with an extended Walworth Road shopping street. This was (presumably) the outcome of public consultation at that point. So why did the council not anticipate that negotiating with St Modwen would inevitably be difficult - the own the shopping centre - and instead promised something that could not be delivered to voters?

It is good that, for example, Fiona Colley mentions opening up the arches, but how can we still not know Network Rail's position on this when it has been a core part of the regeneration plan for 8 years?
Friday 8 April 2011 3.13pm
Luke - the shopping centre is most definitely in SE1!

Personally speaking, my worry is that we could end up with the worst of both worlds - the small traders that make the Elephant what it is will be pushed out in the revamp, and the opportunity for radical change to the street pattern and public realm (as set out by jamesup) will be squandered.

And even if there are strong arguments for retaining the core of the current building, all the politicians concerned ought to be honest and upfront that this represents a serious change of direction for the E&C regeneration compared to what has been envisaged for the past 7-8 years since the current masterplan was adopted.

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Friday 8 April 2011 3.16pm
Whoops, sorry James!
Friday 8 April 2011 3.51pm
Luke wrote:
Jamesup, thank you for finding this out and posting the details. It is incredible to me that all this is coming out through individual posts on the SE1 website and not through formal information and consultation - though I am grateful it is coming out somewhere!

I can only echo these sentiments. The lack of information coming into the community that is affected by it is astounding. It's obvious that lots of discussions between Lend Lease, St Modwens, Oakmayne and the Council are happening day by day. Where is the local forum or consultative body that would be the vehicle for a genuine consultation process?

Fiona Colley says 'The big benefits of retaining the core of the building would be that this is a far more cost effective solution (and therefore actually a financially viable option, unlike wholesale demolition and rebuild...'

Is she suggesting that regeneration promises to local people (as they stood in 2007) are now too expensive?

I think I need a lie down!
Friday 8 April 2011 3.58pm
James Hatts wrote:
Luke - the shopping centre is most definitely in SE1!
Personally speaking, my worry is that we could end up with the worst of both worlds - the small traders that make the Elephant what it is will be pushed out in the revamp, and the opportunity for radical change to the street pattern and public realm (as set out by jamesup) will be squandered.

And even if there are strong arguments for retaining the core of the current building, all the politicians concerned ought to be honest and upfront that this represents a serious change of direction for the E&C regeneration compared to what has been envisaged for the past 7-8 years since the current masterplan was adopted.

Exactly. I don't expect for a second that St M will not put rents up if they revamp, but that effect would have been cushioned greatly by the Woolworth extension, providing links through to cheaper shop space for a full variety of retailers.

My guess at the moment is that Cllrs John and Colley have realised that they can't deliver the masterplan, or start delivering it, within this term. They could deliver this Plan B and so are pursuing it. There's an argument that perfect is the enemy of good, but we get one shot at this and then it's another 50 years...

Luke, thanks for the info on the reference group, and yes - beyond a joke that Network Rail are not onboard with what has been the plan from the beginning. H

It should also be raised that it's Boris's viewing corridors to prevent people standing on a bridge in the middle of a park from being offended by another tall building that are making demolition less competitive - if they can't build up they can't increase the floor space and public realm...
Friday 8 April 2011 6.07pm
jamesup wrote:
My guess at the moment is that Cllrs John and Colley have realised that they can't deliver the masterplan, or start delivering it, within this term. They could deliver this Plan B and so are pursuing it. There's an argument that perfect is the enemy of good, but we get one shot at this and then it's another 50 years...

Aaargh, I bet you are right, that is a really depressing thought.

And whilst we have new councillors who are trying to deliver something quickly, whatever it is, we remain with the same teflon coated council officers "in charge" of regeneration whose only achievement, after massive public, councillor and AM pressure, is (eventually) to have got the surface crossings on the southern roundabout installed, and who have also succeeded in ensuring that they have had 7 years during which they have not had to engage with the public at all on their masterplanning - which now proves totally undeliverable and is being re-written on the hoof.

Who knows, perhaps with less secrecy and more consultation, the council might even have had a better idea of what might work for the area. That reference group had better happen quick.
Saturday 9 April 2011 11.41am
Oh goodness this is just SO depressing...the Council and its minions couldnt run a bloody BATH.
Sunday 10 April 2011 9.40am
jackie rokotnitz wrote:
...the Council and its minions couldnt run a bloody BATH.

Jackie, I think you misunderstand the Council and it's minions. They are able to make decisions and make things happen. So they are not totally inept. It's more that they never bother asking those they supposedly represent about these decisions. This is what irks me (and others).

When I read that the Shopping Centre refurb plan will now include 'new homes' I wonder what kind of new homes these will be? Will they maintain the usual low commitment to social housing? Will new homes impact on the amount of retail in the re-jigged shopping centre. I am assuming there is more profit on new housing than from retail rental!

Also, where is the accountability to local people about these new homes and all the pressure more and more new homes in this small footprint puts on local services, schools, doctors, traffic, open spaces. Is there no sense of joined-up planning here where these kind of issues can be debated rather than us just being expected to cheer at the prospect of 'new homes' as if it was automatically a good thing. This is what drives me mad about Southwark Council.

I guess we also live in funny times. In the past local communities were active and involved in putting forward arguments and strategies for their local area via local community development groups. In the 70's and 80's, numerous groups in Southwark were discussing in detail effects of new housing on the existing community.

There is a wealth of experience out there as is evident from the writers on these forums. Let's not waste it by letting the Council and developers just do whatever they feel like.

With the Masterplan just a few months away, I think now is the crucial time to speak up and demand accountability, transparency and representation on local planning issues around the E+C Regeneration area.
Sunday 10 April 2011 10.55am
Whom shall we ask?
Sunday 10 April 2011 6.07pm
I'm open minded to see this shopping centre refurb. I genuinely think with care it could be interesting. And I'd defo live in the shopping centre if apartments opened up! It has quite a kitch charm. I love a bit of the Ele centre.

However I echo everyone else's frustration. Where is the consultation? This work has clearly been going behind closed doors. What about the transport?! The most desperate, important part of this regeneration is getting shot of the horrible roundabout and those nasty underpasses. Without that going, there's no point in any of it.
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