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Council looks for help with £240m Elephant project

Southwark Borough Council is hoping to form a joint venture with Transport for London to sort out infrastructure problems at the rundown Elephant and Castle area of south London.

The council warned that it could not afford the estimated £240 million for the work, and said it was looking at innovative ways to come up with the funding.

TfL owns the plans and presented the initial cost estimate for the revamp – which includes the reworking of two major roundabouts, increased capacity for the Northern Line and the revamp of pedestrian access to underground and rail stations – earlier this month.

Speaking at the Keeping London Moving conference, Southwark Council strategic director major projects Stephen McDonald said: “The work that needs to be done at Elephant and Castle was not in the TfL business plan so we need to look at other ways to fix the problem.

“We have offered to go into a joint venture with TfL. That way we can both be sure of the value of the upgrade and we can share the proceedings over time.”

It is hoped that traffic at Elephant and Castle, which forms one of the major north-south thoroughfares in London, can be re-routed to allow the roundabouts to be turned into a major pedestrian plaza.

The work will form part of a £1.5 billion regeneration of the area, which lies just south of Waterloo.

TfL said no formal proposal had been made by Southwark Council regarding a joint venture. It added that a feasibility study would be completed by the summer into the impact of the proposed developments on the transport network.

Last summer, Southwark Council appointed Lend Lease as commercial partner on the project, which will see the construction of 6,000 new homes, a new shopping centre to replace the existing one and new parks.

But the council is waiting until all the plans are complete before it signs a final agreement.

Executive member for regeneration Cllr Paul Noblet said: “I am as frustrated as local residents that the scheme is being delayed but we are working hard with Lend Lease and TfL to get the development agreement signed.”

Mr McDonald added that the scheme would offer just 10 per cent affordable housing as it had enough affordable homes elsewhere to maintain supply.

The whole redevelopment will cover an area of 170 acres. It is hoped that restoring Elephant and Castle will make it a major urban hub for south London, a role that the area occupied before the Second World War.

Why the facelift?

In June 2002, Southwark Council decided it needed to remove the following blights on Elephant and Castle:

  • Outdated, badly constructed buildings
  • Poor quality housing
  • A community divided by the area’s layout
  • Heavy volumes of traffic
  • High levels of pollution
  • A hostile environment, leading to crime and the fear of crime