Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre had the honour of being the first covered mall in Europe when it was finished in 1965. It was an ambitious building but has struggled over the years. The internal layout is lamented for being confusing and the facade is aged and unattractive. Incredibly there are some thriving businesses still on the site, including a number from Latin American backgrounds.
Southwark Council has been pushing for the building to be redeveloped for over twenty years. The surrounding neighbourhood is being regenerated, making it a much more appealing destination for businesses and shoppers. The shopping centre needs similar treatment.
In 2013 property developer Delancey purchased the property. In the last five years they have been looking at different plans for the site. A proposal was set to be put to Southwark Council’s in January. This would see the building demolished and replaced with a state of the art new mixed use complex.
Most noteworthy is the fact that 979 new homes would be created. These would be accompanied by a new cinema, a campus for the London College of Communication (LCC), and spaces for start-up businesses. A new entrance for Elephant & Castle tube station is also planned.
The redevelopment is not guaranteed in any way though. Although the building is maligned and improvements are needed, it has become an important part of the community. There is opposition from business owners and people who rely on the services on offer. Calls for more social rent housing are also ringing loudly after other projects failed to deliver homes.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the shopping centre with both sides fighting hard. If redevelopment goes ahead it could transform the area entirely.
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