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Better Elephant: Transforming The Heygate Community-Led Exhibition, this Saturday 25th Feb

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Friday 24 February 2012 9.15am
I dont know if the majority of households are child free, but one of the undertakings of the original refurbishment of the Elephant plan was that we should try and keep families in the area (otherwise why create schools and playgrounds?). Young mothers on the top floors of high rises with two or three children was a phenomenon well documented to result in isolation and depression and worse. And why do we WANT a neighbourhood with no children? That's what builds a community . We want people who will make a life, bring up their families here, and hope that those children will continue to live here..not have a lot of yuppy flats where young professionals live for a few years and then emigrate to the suburbs. I'm truly depressed..but the finish date projected (Ha!) in the mid-2020s will be too late for me to pass judgement. I'll be dead.
Friday 24 February 2012 1.48pm
According to the 2001 census (, about 28% of households contained dependent children.

And according to the council statistics here (which are a few years out of date) - - an estimated 17% of the borough's population were children (0-14) in 2007.

Undoubtedly then, the majority of households in Southwark are child-free.

Regardless, making the environment good for families will tend to make it pleasant for everyone (we all enjoy parks; no-one wants to walk a long way to the shops; stairs are just as hard for old or disabled people as they are for people pushing prams). And I think I get just as annoyed as you, Jackie, when my friends all disappear when they feel the need to breed.
Friday 24 February 2012 2.19pm
I can't see why highrise living is not suitable for children.

I have been living in a 24 storey block myself for quite a few years and there are quite a few families with kids living in it. My floor for example is about 50/50 people with / without kids. 2 families are very friendly on this floor and kids and parents can be seen going back and forth between the flats at times. To me this looks perfect. Behind our building we have a small playground, a basket ball court and across the road the churchyard.

I think one question however is how many people are actually considering raising their children in elephant and castle - bang in the middle of this city? I guess crime fears are an issue, all the traffic around, where can the kids go cycling etc. etc.

Those that are happy to raise kids in this neighbourhood however will most likely find these three keyfacts detrimental for their decision:
1. Apartment size. How big a family can you squeeze into a one or two bedroom flat for example?
2. Affordability.
3. Density / greenspace. Is there some meaningful, sunny and useable space kids and parents can play / hang out without having to go far?

I also think of further importance is the way common parts and entrances are designed. This plays a huge role if residents will interact with each other and form a community. You're unlikely to hold a conversation with your neighbours in a soulless dark corridor built to minimum width for example. Lifts are quite good meeting places too – maybe less so for adults but kids usually are not afraid to talk with each other or adults.

I will go and see the exhibition tomorrow. Looking at the two pictures provided on here all we see are pictures of the park in the middle - the greenspace. These are the selling images. However, I can imagine a park to look nice and make a great neigbourhood - I'm more curious how those city block look like, if the podiums have gone and courtyards are accessible to everyone or if it will be inaccessible dreary city blocks, gated / segregated generally oozing a rather inhospitable feel to the neighbourhood….
Saturday 25 February 2012 8.25pm
pros wrote:

Thanks for this - nice to see the statistics. I think probably one of the biggest issues in the Elephant regeneration is to overcome this wrong perception of the area being unsafe. People just repeat what they heard and read without ever having been here.
Surely, the Evening Standard calling it muggers paradise (I wonder what facts they based this expression on) surely doesn't help anyone.

As for the masterplan proposal, I agree, it's uninspirational and I can't help but think completely driven on what boxes need to be ticked for sales. Certainly not cutting edge at all. A hell of a lost opportunity... Let's watch out for planning applications and deal with it at that stage then.
Saturday 10 March 2012 6.58pm
wasn't sure which of the many regeneration threads to post this in, but this may be of interest:

let me know if you've been surveyed? thanks x
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