On Wednesday I went to Elephant and Castle, to have a look at the trees that still grow in what were the communal gardens and public spaces of the Heygate Estate. The estate covers 25 acres of central London – around fifty football pitches.
While I was there I met one of the handful of remaining residents, a couple of workmen and some psychogeographical researchers. It is astounding that place that once housed thousands of people is being left abandoned while Southwark’s waiting list for council housing grows ever longer.
What is left of the estate is not scheduled for demolition until 2014 and construction work on new housing will not start until 2015. There is no telling how long it will be before the full plan for the area is implemented. The developers paid so little for the land that they need be in no hurry to recoup their investment. Their website gives the schedule as 2010-2025.
Here are some of my amateurish snaps from the other day.
I wonder how things will pan out on the estate in the years ahead.
(This website, The Elephant’s Backside, has some useful background information. 35 Percent.org are campaigning for another development model in Elephant and Castle, which gives due consideration to social needs.)