Massive potential for interim community use of the Heygate Estate site

The Elephant Amenity Network believes there is huge potential to bring benefits to the local community from planning for a range of temporary uses of the Heygate Estate site, harnessing the amazing natural and built resources that exist at present.

During a regeneration programme that will stretch over fifteen years from now (estimate by Lend Lease, Southwark Council’s regeneration partner)  there is a real danger that having an empty hoarded site this big will destroy the vitality and character of the Elephant and Castle.

To give a sense of the scale, the Heygate Estate site alone is equivalent to the area between Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Instead of letting this resource go to waste, we believe that there is a huge range of positive meanwhile uses that will make the site vibrant and active during this long period.

This interim use is a win-win situation – it brings clear benefits to local communities through involvement, education and new facilities, and also brings benefits to the developer by improving the image of the development and by providing a tailor-made way of ensuring the ongoing involvement local schoolchildren, potential employees of the future.

Our ideas include uses to develop:

Gardening, food growing, planting and greenness projects (for local residents, schools, churches, private or public / commercial or free.) A suitable initial temporary container gardening site has been vacant since before the year 2000 and no other allotment sites are currently available. The Heygate site has 2.7ha of green space, 450+ mature trees with a range of mature fruit and nut species.

Sports and Play / Arts and Performance projects including urban sports such as free running using existing playground and walkway infrastructure, new Multi-use Green/Games Areas (MUGA)/Temporary natural play areas, performances, murals sculpture and film, and links to local community and festivals (e.g. Elefest, Carnival del Pueblo)

New routes (new and safer routes, seating and signing, to encourage increased footfall and permeability of the site)

Our ideas have been inspired by recent nationwide initiatives to make use of under-used spaces, including the previous Government’s Department of Communities and Local Government community finance proposals on making land available for community growing. Further information is available at www.meanwhilespace.com.

We have also been inspired by Argent’s projects at Kings Cross (http://www.kingscrosscentral.com/community)

If you have ideas, please let us know on elephantamenity@gmail.com.

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