Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle: The Heygate Estate

Location Elephant & Castle, London
Number of units 1194
Type Social
Built 1970 - 1974


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The London County Council initiated a major development of the Elephant and Castle Area from the late 1950s. The last stage in this process was the Heygate Estate, built 1970 - 1974. Providing 1194 homes, the estate is huge however, it is still overshadowed by the much larger Aylesbury Estate a little to the south.

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The Heygate is a vast estate of concrete walkways and terraces. Built in the brutalist style of the 1960s, it was deemed to be inadequate shortly after it was finished. Voted London's worst building, the general consensus is that it is a hideous monstrosity that should have been knocked down years ago. That is soon going to happen. However, many residents are uncertain of the future, and of the quality of the houses they will be moved into and are reluctant to leave the community they know.

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Why is the Heygate being redeveloped?

Like much of the social housing in Southwark and throughout England, the Heygate Estate was designed in the 1960s when builders and planners had very different ideas about what made good social housing. It now falls far short of the government's 'decent homes' standard and needs massive investment to meet modern day standards of heating, accessibility and security.

Building new homes for all Heygate Estate tenants is a less expensive and far better option, and the wider regeneration of Elephant and Castle offers an opportunity to carry this out now. The council have addressed the Heygate redevelopment by acquiring 16 infill sites in the area to accommodate 1000 new homes.

Elephant and Castle - the future

In February 2004, Southwark Council decided on a £1.5 billion masterplan for the Elephant and Castle area, which included a design for a new town centre with a plaza, new housing, shopping facilities parks and gardens. This programme is expected to take 10 years to complete and it has reached the stage where the residents are being re-housed in preparation for the demolition of the imposing 1960s residential housing blocks, including the Heygate Estate. The demolition is planned for next year but it is dependant on the time taken to relocated the residents.

The council has selected housing partners to build and manage new houses for the Heygate residents, the first of which was Wansey Street designed by de Rijke Marsh Morgan. This vividly coloured building is located adjacent to the Heygate estate and contains 31 flats but only a low percentage of these are required to be affordable housing. Other housing schemes include designs for Brandon Street by Metaphorm, Leroy Street by Featherstone Associates, Newington South by Cartwright Pickard, Royal Road by Panter Hudspith and Prospect House on St George’s Road by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, none of which have been constructed currently. Hence, there is still a long waiting list on the Estate for new housing. An Elephant and Castle tower scheme designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has been submitted to planning. If accepted it will be a 43 storey skyscraper replacing the derelict London Park Hotel.

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See also

Architect's Journal Specification March 2007, p.25-30
Blueprint - King of the Castle, no. 246, September 2006, p.63-67
Building - An oasis by the elephant, volume 27, no. 8447 (37), September 15, 2006, p.50-55
Architect's Journal, volume 225, no.12, March 29, 2007, p.12-13

External links


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