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Welcome to Elephant sales
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Welcome to Elephant sales

Walk with Lendlease around their, 'regenerated', destination which is Elephant Park.

As part of London Festival of Architecture, Lendlease announced they were going to take 20 lucky people for a walk around the 'regenerated' Elephant and Castle. Some local residents, including ourselves, thought it might be an interesting experience to join them on the day, as many strongly believe that the violence of 'regenerations' has to be challenged at any given opportunity..

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When we got to the 'One the Elephant Experience Suite' (the start of the walk), the Lendlease team told us 20 people had put their names down to attend. Seven of the 20 turned up for the walk. Six of the seven were local residents. The single non-resident was a representative of the London Festival of Architecture.

The well-rehearsed sales pitch started straight away and was challenged almost as instantly, as we heard about the 0% 'affordable' housing at One the Elephant (in spite of the planning policy requirements for minimum 35%), as we heard about the 25% 'affordable' housing Lendlease are providing elsewhere (in spite of the planning policy requirements for minimum 35%; 'subject to viability!', retorted the Lendleaser), as we wondered who could afford the private fully concierged penthouses, as we were told about the contributions to the leisure centre, as we heard how the 'area was deficient in green spaces' while looking at the park nearby and while conveniently failing to consider the devastation of the Heygate Forest. The issue of ownership of the public space was also raised. 

Next stop: the success which is the boxpark, full of 'cool' or 'destination' eating and drinking shipping containers, brightly coloured shipping containers selling overpriced tat and the library (temporary but conveniently tokenistic 'community' space) 'which is great, I went there myself a couple of times'. The repeated references to 'people' who they want to bring in, to encourage to do stuff, got us to ask exactly who these people were meant to be, as it certainly wasn't us who live here. The 'better class of people' was more than obviously implied.

A few of us raised the issue of what appeared to be nicely selective policy compliance - planning permission for the 'biggest new park in central London in 70 years' was given under the proviso the park remained fully publicly accessible 24/7; the section 106 agreement (as binding) said the same; latest planning documents, however, are detailing a 2m high fence. Allegedly, the fence is to be there only while they're building the 'biggest new park in central London in 70 years'. Allegedly.

The final pride and joy was the visit to Trafalgar Place, where the token architect spoke how 'the walkways on the former Heygate' inspired them to create a...space between two rows of buildings? Paved road? 1,200 new council homes for local people which they can actually afford to live in? Some of us had hoped to get a glimpse of the private carrot patches (which Cllr Peter John himself praised a while back) but were denied access to any of the spaces behind the private gates. We heard about the 'meet your neighbour' events Lendlease have been organising for their new, gated, homeowners, to help them 'integrate' with other new, gated, homeowners and, allegedly, other neighbours too. The token architect later got in a heated discussion with one of the residents, then did a HelenHayes (run away, upset that some people are angry with them because of what they do).

As the Lendlease sales team declared the end of the walk, one local resident asked if they had believed a word of what they had told us or whether they're simply paid loads to say whatever. They then wished them 'all the worst' to which Lendleasers responded with 'it's a shame you're taking that stance' (because local residents should have, by now, seen the light? Embraced the exclusion? The gates and CCTVs? The what exactly?)

You can see more photos on our facebook page here.

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