Last night, we were at a meeting convened by the Elephant Amenity Network to begin discussions on the regeneration plans for the Heygate Estate area and the Elephant & Castle shopping centre.
Regeneration is always a difficult issue, especially where it affects long-standing residents and homeowners. For example, Wansey Street has beautiful Victorian homes and a colourful new apartment block on one side, and the Southwest corner of the estate facing them on the other side.
Residents of this street will put up with a lot over the next 15 or so years…
On a different note, two very interesting things about the meeting…
One is the odd mixture of people attending. There is a lot of social housing in the area, but the location and transport links of Elephant & Castle have attracted more and more professional types over the past few years. The Strata tower is a big shiny example, surrounded by less glamorous buildings.
So at the meeting you could find a young, smartly-dressed couple sharing a table with a man who has been living in a council flat in for the last twenty years.
Secondly, as well as the social mix, it seems that a great number representatives of important community groups in the Walworth area turned up too.
It’s hard to imagine another issue that could get all these groups together in one place. This begs the question:
How can this issue that concerns all people and groups living in the area be used as a vehicle for more co-operation, stronger community and better, more targeted service provision?
The regular meetings are a start. What next?