The Elephant Amenity Network turned out in force to try and save Elephant Park last Saturday 26 February. We joined with the football players of the local Latin American football league and met with the ‘Southwark News’ (see here) in an effort to stop the boarding-up of the park.
The park is the site of what will eventually be the new market square; in the meantime it is to be let by Southwark Council to the developers of Oakmayne Plaza as a site compound.
The planning application for this was given 3 years ago and distinguishes itself by having no social rented or affordable housing of any kind in its 600+ units; Oakmayne offered £1m in lieu and to its shame Southwark accepted. Since then not a word has been heard – we think that the application may be running out of time, hence the sudden activity.
The Latin American football league use the park each Saturday and had no idea it was being completely boarded off. The games aren’t just informal kick-abouts; it’s a well-organised league of 10 teams and each team has sponsorship. One of the teams is sponsored by the owner of Distriandina, a cafe in one of the railway arches.
The cafe also runs salsa classes, has a dvd library and Latin American Legal Advice centre and organises regular events on the Park (for example kids’ bouncy castle).- it’s a hub for the Latin American community across London. The football is a great attraction and there is a worry about how its loss may effect other activities.
We’ve proposed considering the adjacent, almost empty Heygate estate as the site compound, although it would need discussion with those who are still living there – something Souhtwark seems to find very hard to do.
You can read more about this on People’s Republic of Southwark.