Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snow on the Heygate

                                          Photo: Johnathon Gales

A couple of new photo essays of the Heygate have turned up in my google news feed, taken during the recent snowstorm in London. The above photograph, taken by Johnathon Gales, is of my old home, Claydon House, with the new 'gateway to the Elephant' the Strada Tower, rising up behind it. His blog, thoughts not thoughts has more photographs.

   What was most striking, aside from the empty windows, was the desolate quality of the Strada. At first I wasn't even sure what it was - the tower was still at the foundation stage when I left last year. From this angle it looks like a giant American flag . . .

Also, more haunting images from Dan Tassell at  Captured City: the bleak beauty of the Heygate Estate

                                          Photo: Dan Tassell

Apperently, some people still live on the estate. These images remind me of one of my last entries when I still lived on the Heygate: Endgame One More Step, when I wrote:

How will it be when the whole estate is empty but for one or two holdouts? How would it be occupy a single flat in a building this vast, to feel the emptiness spreading out through the building at night, to walk down gangways past sealed off flats, knowing no one else’s steps will tread the concrete stairwells – to know the building will soon be rubble?
I wonder how that feels to occupy these hulking empty buildings now . . .


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Weekly (or thereabouts) round-up . . .

I've put off writing this post because even if the deadline came and went Monday evening it is still a little unclear what is exactly is going to happen:

From LondonSE1: Elephant and Castle Deal 'excellent value for money' says Southwark leader.

Southwark Council's executive agreed to a 'heads of term' agreement with developers Lend Lease, which means at least a part of the Elephant development will go through. However, questions remain. Also from London SE1:

Call for Greater Transparency over Elephant and Castle Regeneration Deal

The development would be in six phases. Phase 1 to 5 involve the Heygate, phase 6 the shopping centre. However no timetable has been set for the latter. Demolition would begin on eastern end of the estate, down by Rodney Road (which if memory serves is off the main section of the estate) in February.

It seems that Lend Lease's investment in the 1.5 billion project is small: Lend Lease wins London bid, shares jump.  Though a Lend Lease spokesman later reiterated that Lend Lease is responsible for all six phases of the development, and as such is responsible for investment.

The reaction on the SE1 forum remains skeptical, as few details of the plan and what it will mean for the Elephant and Elephant residents are being released: 

Lib-Dem Councillor Tim  McNally writes:
"I look forward to the bulldozers going onsite in February 2010 to start the demolition, and will welcome the creation of additional new homes of all tenures - including social for rent in excess of that in the current Heygate, shared ownership and private - in what will surely be the revitalised centre of South East London"
To which, one forum member responded:
"All the planned regeneration is going to do is to replace a load of architecturally ambitious post-war social housing slums with some bland early 21st century private rabbit hutch slums."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Weekly (or thereabouts) round-up . . .

Fungus on decayed gangways - Heygate

I delayed writing this because on Tuesday evening, the council was meant to rubber stamp its deal with Lend Lease, the Aussie developers. However, no deal was signed, and another meeting is set for Monday, the 30th of November, after which the exclusivity agreement between Lend Lease and Southwark Council will end. This has already happened in July. A new deal could be signed, or both parties could end their relationship, putting the whole regeneration in limbo.

From Southwark news: Yet Another Delay in plan to regenerate Elephant and Castle:

 London SE1 reports: Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre redevelopment to be delayed indefinitely.

The article quotes Peter John, leader of the Labour group:
"This new deal with Lend Lease amounts to little more than throwing Heygate residents out of their homes and building new luxury housing which they won't be able to afford. What are tenants and residents getting out of it? The Lib Dems are selling Elephant & Castle short and betraying the existing community.
"Demolishing the shopping centre and removing the roundabouts and underpasses is absolutely central to starting a new chapter for Elephant & Castle, but this new deal put those plans on ice. It doesn't even include an indication of when the Lib Dems expect the core of Elephant & Castle to be transformed.
"Leisure facilities which made up such a central part of the original deal aren't even mentioned in this new deal, and neither is the new school, library or Northern line station which were also promised."
Also from London SE1: Could Elephant and Castle be the new South Bank?  Southwark Council holds culture conference.

I have also discovered the community forums on LondonSe1, including a lively discussion under the heading: E&C: back to the drawing board? which began in June, 2008 and continues to this day.

I tried to find some information on the Southwark Council news page but nothing has been posted as of yet.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Weekly (or thereabouts) round-up . . .

                      New face of the Elephant? Condos behind the Heygate Estate

From London SE1: Boris Johnson 'actively trying to broker Elephant and Castle regeneration deal'. Developers Lend Lease are 'in a dire position' due to the credit crunch. Boris goes on to say:

"It's a fantastic project and we'll do everything we can to help it go ahead," said the Mayor.
"The trouble is we've got a credit crunch and the developers – Lend Lease I think it is – are simply in a dire position.
"So the [section] 106 money that's normally available is not going to be available to do the fantastic things.
"I know that we're actively trying to broker a deal between Southwark Council and Lend Lease. We want to get it done, and if we possibly can, we will."

Micheal Caine has been all over the papers, of course, due to his film 'Harry Brown', part of which is being filmed on the Heygate.

From the Sun: 'Screen Legend Micheal Caine on Broken Britain' (Sir Micheal blames Labour). And from Harry Brown Looks at Broken Britain

And even Clint Eastwood has been spotted on the Heygate and the Walworth area. From South London Press: Clint Eastwood rides into Walworth

And from the blog Love London Council Housing: a live report from the Heygate Estate. Aside from complimenting yours truly, they write:

. . .as of last Friday (Oct. 30th), there wre 117 secure, non secure tenants and leaseholders left - 67 secure tenants, of whom half have direct offers for alternative accommodation.  Those left behind . . . are living surrounded by vacant properties boarded up to keep out squatters.
 So the drama continues. According to London Se1, Lend Lease's exclusivity agreement is due to expire at the end of November. If all falls through, maybe the council can turn the Heygate into a movie set!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Valentines Day on the Heygate, 2009.

Found this on Youtube this morning: 

Valentines Day Ball at the Heygate

Mostly old folks gathered in a community hall - I"m guessing the hall behind what used to be the doctor's office, now the office for the Heygate Tennant's Association. Probably the last time people got together like this on the estate.

It says a lot that in the six or seven months I lived on the Heygate, I was hardly aware that this older, white working class still existed. The faces I saw were mainly those of immigrants - Africans, South Americans, East Euros. This, I"m sure, had a lot to do with the fact I was an immigrant myself, albeit of a different kind. But it does say a lot about the alienating power of the estate, when you can't even get a sense of the people who live around you.

Where are these folks now, I wonder?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Call in Guardian for more council housing . . .

The new elephant. The Strata tower, looking down the tracks to Walworth Road.

From last week in the Guardian (busy week last week, knocked out with a bad cold so haven't had time to update):

High Time for More Council Housing:

Columnist Patrick Collinson bikes by the Hegate Estate every morning. Apparently, the Heygate is 'the best known and least loved' housing estate in Britain. I would have thought the much worse Aylesbury or the since-demolished North Peckham Estate (never mind a few choice estates in Liverpool, Salford, Edinburgh . . . . the list goes on) would qualify. But never mind.

He makes the very valid point that the architectural mistakes of the 50's and 60's have colored Britain's view of council housing, leading to a housing shortage. I certainly experienced this in London - the quality of housing for the non-rich was appallingly bad - which is partly why I moved onto the Heygate.

Of the new housing across the roundabout, he writes:

A grim walkway under a busy roundabout connects the Heygate to the first major new residential development in Elephant & Castle, built on the site of a demolished council block, Castle House. But the evicted residents of the Heygate can only look up in awe. You can find a selection of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats in the 43-storey Strata Tower, now nearing completion. But housing benefit won't quite stretch that far. Upmarket estate agents Savills is marketing a one-bed flat in the new block for £850,000. A three-bedder is in the millions.
   What struck me most about all the talk of 'regeneration' when I lived in the Elephant, was how little attention was being paid to the neighborhood that would result. It seemed pretty much a given that this nice new Elephant, with it's tram lines and boulevards lined with cafes, would no longer be working class. Sure, they'd put in a few low rent flats, but after how many years of development, what community had existed on the estate would be broken up and very unlikely to come together again. Certainly the posters put up around the Oakmayne site ('Believe in Oakmayne!'), showed nice white very middle class people on those boulevards or sitting in the terraces of their nice little flats.

   The Elephant has always been a working class neighborhood. When I first moved there in the 80's, it was Irish working class (or at least my section of it, on the Rockinham Estate, was Irish), in my most recent experience, it was populated primarily by immigrants. Either way, it was inhabited mainly by poor people, and that was it's identity and it's (sort of) charm. T|he Heygate, by dint of it's ugliness, was a kind of rampart against the ocean of gentrfication pouring in across the tracks. Take it away, and the Elephant will be just another boring Zone 1 neighborhood.

   I mean what kind of moron pays 850,000 pounds for a one bedroom flat? Anywhere? And next to one of the world's biggest construction sites at that. Will these people be going down to the East Street Market, I wonder?

View looking south from Ashedon House.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Latest Developments

From London SE1:

Lend Lease "still very interested" says chief executive, Dan Labbad.

"We believe that we're close to the bottom of the market in the UK . . . It's the right time to invest in regeneration schemes which is why we are very interested in our position at Greenwich, our discussions at Elephant & Castle and also being involved in Stratford for the medium to long term,"

Despite this, Mr. Labbad said 'significant barriers' still existed for 'entry' including the credit market, and a suitable partnership with the government.

Meawhile . . . The two Caryatids sequestered in the little garden in the middle of the estate, have been moved out. The two caryatids (a column carved in the shape of a person, in this case an imitation of the stone lady statues on the Parthenon) were carved by Henry Poole in 1885 and decorated Rotherhithe Town Hall, until bombing destroyed the Town Hall building in 1945. The caryatids survived however, and were installed on the Heygate.

I discovered the two stone ladies last year, but had no idea of their history. They seemed totally incongruous in the conext of the estate, but they were a nice touch nonetheless. If you looked into the little garden from the right angle, the green blocked the towers on either side, and you could imagine you were somewhere else entirely.

Also, from the Independent: London: City of Broken Dreams: reports that East Euros made desperate by the recession are squatting the Heygate. The council claims that there are no squatters on the estate (of course). But if the deal with Lend Lease is NOT signed, I wonder if the whole estate will be taken over? Who would stop them?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Regeneration Skyscraper Plans Under Threat

From London SE1:

Boris Hyde Park Policy Change Could scupper SE1 skyscraper plans

From the article:
"In June Boris Johnson published draft planning guidance to protect significant views of London landmarks.

Among the new measures proposed in the document is an additional protected view from the bridge over the Serpentine in Hyde Park towards the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

On Tuesday night Southwark's planning committee was told that this new protection could affect proposals for tall buildings as part of the regeneration of Elephant & Castle.

The council's head of design & conservation Michael Tsoukaris told councillors that the effect of the policy would be to cap the height of future developments at some locations around the Elephant & Castle northern roundabout at 65 metres."

Among the buildings affected would be Oakmayne Plaza, the hi-rise complex along New Kent Road which would replace the Heygate. Oakmayne, as it is proposed now, would be 87.5 metres.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

But of course . ..

From the South London news . . .

Should pink elephant be Southwark's Olympic Icon?

Southwark residents have been invited to choose whether their borough should be represented by the Elephant & Castle or Shakespeare's Globe in a set of souvenir pin badges to be produced for the London 2012 Olympics.

Maybe they should have a model of the whole shopping centre. Or the Heygate.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again.

From the Guardian:

It sounds like a fairy tale - until you get there. But now a magic wand is poised over the Elephant and Castle.

From the article:

'This is the week that the London Borough of Southwark sets about asking local people and businesses what they'd like to be done about one of the city's oldest shopping centres. The Borough has a pretty shrewd idea of what to do, but is asking all the same.

'The Borough. . . spurred on by . . . it's intelligent and indefatigable Director of Regeneration and Enviroment . . . plans to transform the Elephant into a "new landmark of urban and environmentally-friendly design: a development that could be seen as exemplary, worldwide."

'The emphasis here is on public transport and the linking together of many railway stations and bus stops that serve the area. They may also include working with approved firms of architects - not just developers' puppets, but those who will raise the standard of architecture here to the highest global standards. This includes new housing and the renovation of existing stock.

'The borough insists that it is not trying to turn the Elephant into a new middle-class ghetto or just another shiny downtown development . . . in raising it's cultural sights, however, Southwark must be careful not to undermine it's indigenous population . . . It is, at heart, a working-class quarter of London, made up of many creeds and colours. What it needs to do is find ways of engineering in the hearts of those who live and work here a sense of belonging to a new world in which they all stand to benefit if and when the Elephant comes into it's own.'

Sounds great doesn't it? The problem? The article is dated, '15 March, 1999'.

I hadn't realized it until I read this article - I was away from England for over 12 years until I went back in late 2007 - but the regeneration process has been in place for a decade. The original company pulled out not long after this article was written and the plan languished ever after.

Today, from LondonSE1: Elephant and Castle regeneration: Southwark Council leader 'cautiously optimistic' that a deal can be reached with Lend-Lease by the end of 2009. From the article:

"I am cautiously optimistic about the chances of reaching a development agreement with Lend Lease by the end of the year," Cllr Nick Stanton told members of the cross-party Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the town hall on Monday night.

"I've said before that if Lend Lease were going to walk away from this they would have walked away by now. They clearly have walked away from a number of propositions where they felt that the numbers weren't stacking up for them."

"They are still very interested in the Elephant & Castle. They are talking with us and we have been doing some financial modelling work with them. I'm told that that's gone very well."

If a deal isn't signed, what happens then? Does the estate just sit there year after year, falling into total disrepair? Or will the council demolish it, no matter what the cost, just to get rid of it? What then? A vacant lot that sits on the site for years afterwards, taking up valuable land?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Painting Moths on the Heygate

Big Brush of the 'Paint the Heygate' project gives a moving description of walking around the nearly empty estate. On the massive Kingshill Building (she calls it the Aylesbury here, but I think she means Kingshill), they find a council worker who shows them round. They find exactly one person left on the whole building, out having a cigarette on the empty terrace. "No comment" he says, as soon as he sees them, obviously marking them for press.

Will Montgomery's 'sounds of the elephant

Photograph: Dollan Cannell.

Will Montgomery is a sound artist who has posted some sound recordings made inside and outside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Mall. In an article for the August, 2007 issue of Painted, Spoken, he writes:
"I've never lived on the Heygate and I'm glad of that. However . . . one night I was knocked over on the Elephant's north roundabout. The impact destroyed the joint at the base of my left thumb, and the Elephant, like the fused thumb, has nagged at me ever since. . . ."
Then, explaining his interest in the shopping centre (from the same interview):
"What interests me now is it's sound. In the late 199o's, I began to admire it's peculiarly roomy, dreamy acoustic . . .in the shopping centre you get, of course, voices speaking many languages . . . But more important to me is the combination of overlapping human voices with piped pop songs. Often you catch some ancient love tune . . . floating by. Perhaps some of the more worn-down uses of the shopping center went for those songs once. For me, the romantic love hymned decades ago by these tarnished old hits tallies with the pathos that now marks the hopes of betterment expressed in the architecture of the area."
Further, he quotes Charles Dickens, and Walter Benjamin, writing about the Elephant, and mixes sound recordings of the shopping centre with pop-up photographs of the centre and the Heygate Estate. A nice testimonial. His site can be found at ''

Monday, 24 August 2009

Elephant Saved . . .

     (Times Newspapers)

Southwark Council has announced that the 'iconic' elephant statue which currently sits in front of the mall will be saved and integrated into the regeneration. 

From the London Paper: Ionic Red Elephant Is Saved

That's nice. We'll see what happens when it happens. 

Monday, 17 August 2009


I heard about this exhibit a couple of months ago and knew it was in the Elephant - but didn't know where. 

Artist Roger Hiorns took a disused council flat, constructed a watertight metal tank moulded around the contours of the property then filled the structure with 16,500 gallons of copper sulphate solution. Two weeks later, he pumped out the excess, leaving behind a layer of blue crystals coating the flat interior. 

The exhibit is not on the Heygate but another derelict, soon to be demolished housing estate up Harper Road in the shadow of Heygate Estate. I used to look out on this estate when I first came to London, living in a squat across the street. The estate is nowhere on the same scale as the Heygate - a bulky hi-rise with a low-rise in front, two duplexes connected by a single gangway which looked more like a bare-bones roadside motel than a housing estate. 

Hiorns had this to say about the estate:  
“These buildings were about containing large groups of people who were all living in the same kinds of places and being encouraged to think the same kinds of thoughts, These kinds of buildings don’t work; as a model they have not passed the test of time. They are symbols of a collective will, which treads on an individualistic attitude in the form of small, pokey flats. They give you very little architecture, the nominal amount of expression you’re allowed to have and were ungenerous in that respect,” 

As I wrote on my City of Strangers about an art exhibit on a street in Brooklyn awaiting demolition to clear the way for another condo (construction has been delayed after the developer ran out of money) this sort of exhibit seems to be inhabiting more and more transitional spaces, an I'm assuming subconcious comment on the role of art and artists in the process of gentrification. 

It's all very well for Hiorns to talk about the buildings 'treading on an individualistic attitude in the form of small, pokey flats" but these buildings, as uninspiring as they were, allowed poor people to live in the centre. Take them away, and you take away the poor people as well. 

The housing estate may not have passed the test of time - although the Trellick Tower and many other so-called sink estates which have been given proper maintenance have stood the tes test of time just fine - but buildings with 'very little architecture' and a 'nominal amount of expression' are still being built at an ever-increasing rate. In North America - and the UK - and even, it seems, Europe, they are called suburbs. Has Hiorns never seen a North American suburb? A big box mall? 

Perhaps it's important to note that as the working class and the poor are being pushed out of the city centres, and the affluent from the suburbs are colonizing the condos and refurbished neighborhoods of the centre, these bland, cookie cutter, conformist suburbs will become the new housing estates. Where will 'regeneration' be then? 

Thursday, 13 August 2009

New Design Revealed for Heygate

From BD the Architect's Website: 

(image credit: Nick Wharton). 

A firm named Panter Hudspith (Panter? Hudspith?) has revealed plans for 145 homes at Stead steet and another 100 at Royal Road. The proposals are to go in early next year and construction begin in April (2010). 500 public housing schemes are to be built in total. 

In theory this looks benign enough - public housing on a human scale, etc. But I just wonder how long public housing like this, with parks, trollies, nice train station etc will remain public. I suppose the construction noise from ancillary developments will keep land value down for awhile. But not forever. 

But this is assuming Lend Lease and the council sign a deal. And the remaining residents are moved out (South London Press reported as mid-July 200 remain), and the estate comes down. 

Model of final design to replace section of the Heygate. 

The Londonist also mentions this story  - and  also mentions this blog, which is kind of them. Apparently, demolition was due to start in September, has been delayed though the council insists demolition will begin next year. 

Monday, 27 July 2009

Deal Still Not Signed . . .

From the Southwark News: 

The council is continuing it's exclusivity agreement with Land Lease, the Aussie developers, but no deal has been signed. The Labour opposition accuses the Lib-Dem/ Conservative council of ceding control of the regeneration process and says: 

Regeneration in Southwark is now in total chaos, with an Executive totally out of their depth, the director of major projects resigning [see page 3], and still no deal on the table. There has been a massive lack of political leadership, and this failure rests firmly with the leader of the council, who has so far dodged any accountability, instead blamed everyone else, but still delivered nothing, and just the promise of more dither and more delays.

The council, however, says that everything is still on track despite the 'worst recession any of us have ever seen' and affirms that everyone will be moved off the Heygate Estate by the September deadline. 

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Paint the Heygate

The person behind this has made his/ her site invite only (why?) since I last checked it a couple of days ago, but supposedly there is a campaign on to paint the heygate estate.

It was unclear from the site whether this would be the painting of the whole estate, one building - or perhaps just one flat - but it seems the organizer wants to bring in several renowned artists to 'paint the heygate'. 

From a letter, he/ she sent to Southwark Council:

I have six world renowned well known urban artists (local and overseas) who have told me personally that they want to come down to paint the Heygate and work with this local community. Imagine the possibilities.

They list this video by Sony Bravia as an inspiration . . . 

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Lend Lease Back On Board.

Seems Southwark Council and Lend-Lease, the Australian developer whose exclusivity deal for the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle lapsed earlier this month, have reached a new agreement, just in time for the July 22nd deadline. 

From 'bd, The Architect's Website': 

It is not clear how long the new exclusivity agreement is set to last, or when work will actually start. 80% of the Heygate residents have been moved out, and demolition is set to begin next year (last winter, demolition was supposed to start, well, now). 

The drama continues . . . 

Monday, 20 July 2009

Heygate Residents Furious at being forced off estate before deal is finalized.

From the South London Press: 

   1000 people have so far been rehoused off the Heygate Estate, but many more remain. The council does keep up regular patrols with wardens and make an effort to keep the estate clean. But that doesn't make it any easier or less bizarre for people to live on an almost empty estate - and to be forced out before the Council can even be sure the redevelopment will go ahead. 

From the article: 

A council spokeswoman said: “The rehousing of residents and demolition of the Heygate will continue as planned.

“The deal with Lend Lease is not over.

“A decision will be made at the council’s executive on July 21.”

She said all tenants would have to be off the estate by September.

She said: “A phased demolition [of the estate] is due to start in 2010, as was always planned.”

 So by September, the estate will be completely empty - and if the deal falls through, what then? Will some 1200 housing units sit empty in the heart of one of the tightest, most expensive rental markets in the world?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

One Mile Away . . .

Meanwhile, a new play is being written, featuring the Heygate Esate: 

From the Website: 

One Mile Away is a new play about a one-mile-radius area of London, being created by playwright Kat Joyce and theatre director Nathan Curry. It was commissioned by literature development agency Spread the Word

From Parliament to Elephant, Vauxhall Farm to Lower Marsh, Kat and Nathan are collaborating with many local people to build a literary picture of the many narratives in this complex area.  Kat will be weaving all the ideas into a new play, which will be performed by a professional cast in the summer.

In Spring 2009, Kat and Nathan will be running free writing workshops for local people who want to share their stories, contribute to making a new piece of theatre and learn about creating drama from our own narratives.

Anyone who has a connection to this area or a story to tell can contribute to One Mile Away. Share your story with us.

Elephant and Castle Redevelopment in Question

This from BD The Architect's Website: 

Southwark Council meets with Lend Lease on July 22 to discuss options. A council spokesman did not say whether the council would be discussing the project with any new developers. 

Meanwhile, the 44 story '360 London' remains stalled due to 'challenging market conditions', leaving another empty pit. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lend Lease Agreement Lapses

The exclusive agreement between Southwark Council and the Australian development firm Lend Lease Inc, for the Elephant and Castle redevelopment lapsed this week - without an agreement. 

In South London Press: Elephant and Castle Revamp In Doubt

Southwark Council admits that the recession has made a deal 'more difficult' but is confident that the economy will pick up 'in the medium term' and a deal can be reached. 

If it does fall through, it will be the second time a deal has fallen through. In March, 2002, Southwark Land Regeneration (SLR) also failed to reach an agreement with the council. 

   In the meantime, whither all those empty buildings? Will they be demolished this summer, as scheduled? What then? 

   I wonder if the Heygate will become one vast squatter's paradise in the year (or years) to come . . . 

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

More Photos from the Heygate . . .

A photographer named Anthony Wallace posted this short Photo essay called Sealed Up in a magazine called 'actuphoto'. He writes that he discovered some workers sealing off another empty flat while he was exploring the estate. 

"Inside, an old armchair had been left behind during the evacuation. The sunken seat cushion conjured up images of who had sat there and what kind of people had occupied the flat up until the previous day. 

The head of the welding team granted me permission to photograph other flats whilst they were being sealed. I found myself emphasizing with the abandoned objects and decided that I would collect one as a representative of each property. 

These photographs are a way of preserving the living spaces and some of the memories entombed in them.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Waiting Rooms

Photo: Hannah Lucy Jones (

Photographer Hannah Lucy Jones had a photo exhibit of the Heygate Estate at a group exhibition in Camberwell in February, 2009. 

   The show was called 'Waiting Rooms, between habitation and demolition'. 

   On her site, Jones writes: 

The first residents moved into the Heygate estate in Walworth in the early 1970’s. Never aesthetically pleasing, the estate has sunk into disrepair and does not meet the government’s 2010 Decent Homes standard. Some residents claim the Heygate has been abandoned by Southwark council. They complain of having no heating or hot water for days on end, of leaks and flooding, and of the council’s indifference to their housing needs.

The council promised residents brand new homes to move into on a like-for-like basis. However, the redevelopment has fallen behind schedule, and so far only 12 new flats have been built specifically for Heygate residents, at Wansey Street (completed 2006), of the projected 1000 plus. Southwark council has now brought forward the date by which all residents must have left the Heygate to September 2009. It is unlikely that any of the remaining 15 developments will be completed by this date, so the vast majority of Heygate residents are now having to use the Homesearch system and move into existing council stock in Southwark.

As the rehousing process – or ‘decant’ as the council phrases it – continues, the Heygate estate is gradually emptying out. To begin with empty flats were ineffectually barred off, and either squatters moved in or looters stole scrap metal such as water pipes from the empty flats, causing flooding in connecting flats still occupied. Now welding teams are on site all day, welding shut empty flats with grey steel boards. Some floors are now entirely empty and blocks such as Kingshill have become frightening places for the few residents left, who might live in the only flat still occupied, next to 21 other empty flats on their floor. Southwark’s Executive Member for Housing Kim Humphreys warned residents in November 2008 that as the estate emptied and became more unsafe, people were vulnerable to violence and even murder if they continued living on the estate and resisting a move into existing council accommodation. The remaining residents argue they would leave if the council would give them the new homes they were promised.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Russians Do It Better . .. .

What the Heygate might look like one day, if they move everyone out then don't actually demolish . . . 


Kadykchan, a lost Soviet era city that once contained 12,000 people, now totally deserted . . .

Trust the Russians to do it better. 

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Not a buldozer or a builder's bum in sight . . .

BBC documentary short about the Heygate Estate, from March, 2009

More than 800 households have been moved off the estate. Yet 400 remain. Touching commentary by some the old people still living on the estate:

"They don't want the working classes in this area . . . "

"Put me on the scrap heap why don't they?"

The bulldozers and builder's bums are supposed to be making an appearance this summer, but we'll see if they do.

Old Punks Never Die . . .

They just end up in the Guardian.

Punks and Skins

Gavin Watson is a British photographer. He knew many of his subjects, and this intimacy comes out in his photographs. A London you couldn't imagine now, even in the post-turbo-capitalist phase - but who knows, if the recession deepens, it may be on the way back . . .

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

More Tourist Shots

Taken Fall, 2008

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Hyegate Blues

Shot at dusk, early November 2008: 

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Heygate Demolished

Seems the demolition of the Heygate will be going ahead - however it is unclear what will happen after the fact since the credit crunch has put the squeeze on the company who is supposed to be 'regenerating' the Elephant and Castle. 

And if the Heygate IS torn down and nothing rebuilt, will the site remain as a massive vacant lot for years to come? 

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Children's Games

A video tour of the gangways of the Heygate Estate. 

Slow dolly shot running through the whole estate, starting from the gangway at the very back, through the estate then ending at the now-demolished section which came out on New Kent Road

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Heygate on Youtube

Couple of videos of what seems to be a rush of new videos on the Elephant and the Heygate Estate

2) Some sort of student doc about the development of the Elephant. Love that funny accent - where did they dredge this guy up? 

Guess there will be more and more of these things as the Heygate empties out completely and the demo crews move in. 

New Heygate Website

Feller has a whole website out devoted to the Heygate Estate. Photographer feller. Photos, links, a little history. Does walking tours of the Heygate Estate and runs photography workshops.