Heygate regeneration isn’t black and white

On Good Friday, we paid a visit to the Heygate Estate. There are signs of life – such as the disposed disposable barbecues below.


There is a small pocket of earth next to a half-demolished walkway that has become home to the Mobile Gardeners.

Toilet seat, Heygate Estate

There is an array of graffiti commenting on what is being done to the estate. The architects lie below.

Liars A-E, Heygate Estate

Home Sweet Home screened

Yesterday (15th April 2013) we welcomed filmmaker Enrica Colusso to Pembroke House to screen her film Home Sweet Home about the regeneration of the Heygate Estate, in partnership UCL Urbanlab and Roehampton University. The hall was packed out with people wanting to see the personal and often ignored stories of former residents of the Heygate, and Pembroke provided a unique space on the edge of the Estate to give context to the screening.

The following Q&A was enlightening, highlighting some of the controversy concerning the sale of the site and the lack of council housing that the Lend Lease deal provides.

Read reviews from the People’s Republic of Southwark and Paul Coleman.

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Film screening: ‘Home Sweet Home’

Home Sweet HomeOpen City Docs and UrbanLab Films present

in association with Roehampton University


Enrica Colusso / 2012 / UK, France / 91′

Monday 15th April 2013, 19:00 @ Pembroke House, 80 Tatum Street, London SE17 1QR

Following its popular premiere at Open City Docs Fest 2012, Open City Docs are teaming up with UCL UrbanLab Films to present a community screening of Enrica Colusso’s Home Sweet Home.

Filmed over four years, Home Sweet Home brings out the drama of a massive regeneration scheme unfolding in the heart of the capital. It is also a personal journey of discover in the city the filmmaker chose as her home 20 years ago.

Centred around the now derelict Heygate Estate, Home Sweet Home tracks the people affected as well as the decision-makers behind the scenes, offering a complex, intimate narrative of urban and social transformation, and asks: what kind of society are we building?

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with director Enrica Colusso, Jerry Flynn (local resident), Ben Campkin (author Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture, 2013), Dave Hill (journalist and editor of The Guardian‘s London blog) and Michael Collins (photographer).

Please join us for refreshments at 19:00, screening starts at 19:30. Find us here.

Please RSVP to info@opencitylondon.com by 16:00, Friday 12th April 2013.


Elephant and Heygate Regeneration

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?

The Aylesbury Estate

The Aylesbury Estate is one of Europe’s largest housing projects. The estate attracted most attention in 1997 when Tony Blair used it as the site for his speech on the ‘forgotten people’ of Britain. Many would consider that any attempt to turn around the fortunes of those people the former Prime Minister was speaking about was a failure, and the estate is now due to be demolished. Yet this is not the whole story. The cold exterior and quiet streets hide the fact that behind those walls there are a great number of people who enjoy living in their spacious apartments. Confusingly, plans for the development to replace the existing structures will increase the population density significantly.

It is important that Pembroke House can serve the people of this estate, as there is no similar community space within the Aylesbury. Moreover, we hope that Pembroke House will be an important centre for the building of a new community once transition to the new development begins.

Watch this video made by one of our staff: