The Mayor of London, Southwark Council and Lend Lease have given a show of unity over the future of the Elephant & Castle at a City Hall summit on Monday morning.
It has been revealed that the signing of the crucial regeneration agreement between Southwark Council and Lend Lease is now scheduled for the summer when Transport for London's feasibility study of long-term transport needs will also be completed.
This means it will have taken a full two years from the selection of Lend Lease as the council's development partner to the signing of the final deal which will seal the future of the shopping centre and Heygate Estate sites.
In the meantime Transport for London and Southwark have reached agreement on a new design for a T-junction to replace the southern roundabout at the junction of Walworth Road and Newington Butts which they claim will deliver significant improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.
A TfL spokesman confirmed to the London SE1 website that the pedestrian subways – which Southwark pledged to remove in 2006 – will be removed.
Works will begin in early 2010 and will be completed later that year.
"Elephant & Castle sorely needs a massive regenerative boost and today's meeting has reassured me that the partnership of Southwark Council, Lend Lease and TfL is working flat out to make this vital project a reality," says Boris Johnson.
"I am also delighted to confirm £1.8 million of TfL and LDA funding to improve the southern roundabout for pedestrians and cyclists.
"This is a major step in improving the transport infrastructure and public space in Elephant & Castle, and I'm sure that both local residents and road users will welcome the many benefits that the removal of the southern roundabout will bring."
Opposition politicians have welcomed the end to months of buck-passing between Southwark Council and Transport for London.
"This is good news – but has come finally after too much wrangling and delay," says Cllr Paul Bates, Southwark Labour's housing & regeneration spokesman.
"The project is now playing catch-up and we should be much further forward than we are.
"The Mayor's advisers have blocked the scheme for too long and have now had to swallow humble pie and admit that their objections were poorly thought through. One is bound to ask what was the point of all the delay?
"However, this is progress – but the council, TfL and Lend Lease must crack on with the job and get this scheme back on track."
Labour's Val Shawcross – who represents Lambeth & Southwark on the London Assembly – said: "I am pleased that the Mayor has finally taken heed of the lobbying which I and my colleagues Caroline Pidgeon and Jenny Jones have done on this. This is a crucially important project for the area and it's good that Boris is finally showing a willingness to focus on it.
"What we now want is for work on the roundabout to start as soon as possible to show local residents and business owners that the project is still moving ahead."
She added: "The Mayor has also agreed to meet me at Elephant at some point in June, after a number of requests.
"I'll be telling him that as well as getting on with these works at Elephant, an agreement between City Hall, Lend Lease and Southwark Council needs to be reached as soon as possible so that improvements to the tube station can also move forward."
Last month Assembly members warned that the Mayor's plans to charge a Crossrail levy to developers of large office buildings at the Elephant & Castle also threaten to undermine the regeneration process.
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