Southwark Council approved demolition plans for the beloved Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre despite a concerted campaign from traders and locals.
In Sept 2020, the 55-year-old centre was closed to make way for a new high-rise development that will offer retail space, restaurants and bars, as well as a lot of luxury flats. Last weekend, we took a tour of the boarded-up centre.
The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre was closed for good.
The area will be transformed by “a new Elephant And Castle Shopping Centre”, part of a PS4bn project. The 55-year-old shopping centre will be demolished to make way for new shiny retail units and high-rise apartments.
It wasn’t the most stunning building, but it held a special place within the hearts of many, including its loyal traders. People gathered last night (September 24,) to express their love for the centre and their sadness about its closing.
The shopping centre is being demolished and some of the retailers will move to Castle Square along with the famous Elephant statue. This weekend, the makeshift retail park will be open on Elephant Road.
For years, developers and councils have tried to make this happen but have always been met by deputations from the local community. They fought a great fight and won! They have won, at least until now. The first public meeting about the matter was held by Southwark Council in 1989.
Although the shopping centre needed some love in the fashion department, it was still a great place to shop. Many Londoners shared their fond memories of the shopping centre on Twitter.
The Last Inhabitants of Elephant And Castle Shopping Centre
Kieran Trippier took England’s fourth penalty, and it was crucial, in the 2018 World Cup match against Colombia. The TV signal at Miko’s Cafe in Elephant and Castle was cut off.
I managed to find my phone in the chaos and got internet access. “We won!” Before I could remember where I was, I exclaimed. Colombians who had heard me said it was hilarious, and there was no malice. Gradually, the yellow shirts that had gathered outside of the cafe to view through the glass began to scatter. Many of them likely to drink cold beers and eat bandejapaisa at La Bodeguita, or any other South American restaurant near the shopping centre.
The Latin community, along with everything that makes this shopping center unique, is now being dispersed.
After many attempts, this 55-year-old, lumbering beast has been transcended with the gentrification dart and is now on his way to a six-month-long, painful end. Unless there is a miracle, Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre will close on 30 July 2020. It will be replaced by a new “town centre”, which will include 979 new homes, 175,000 square feet of leisure facilities, cafes, restaurants, and shops. It seems that you can’t have old, ugly things any more. Only ugly new stuff.
Southwark Council and Delancey are robbing this once-famous area of central-south London of its vitality by sending it to death.
A shithole that we’ve made into a goldmine
Amul says, “It used be a shithole.” For 20 years, he’s worked in DIY store Pricebusters. The store stocks everything, from sealant and smoke alarms to golden unicorn mantelpiece statues. It’s now a shithole that we’ve made into a goldmine. They want us to get out of there and continue their development.”
For years, there has been much effort to pull down the 1960s centre. Delancey received the news it needed in December 2019 thanks to a High Court Order. The centre’s top tier, which included the joyful Palace Bingo Elephant And Castle Shopping Centre and bowling rooms, has been closed down. There is no escalator to Saturday heaven. The remaining traders are now ready to leave ship.
Stella is seated in her fabric shop or Elephant And Castle Shopping Centre, surrounded with a forest full of sequinned, colourful garments. Stella has been living here for over 20 years. She says that the place used to be very beautiful and very busy 20 years ago. But, since they decided to tear it down, everything has changed.
“We don’t have many customers anymore. We don’t have any options. We have no choice.
This is classic gentrification: let the community transform a’shithole into something beautiful. When the fruit is ready to be picked, you can buy them all. Preferably, not for enough money. That’s at least what most traders here believe.
Amul says, “The money they put into the pot is nothing.” “For the money that they’re offering they won’t be able even to afford fittings for their new shop. They are all laughing.”
The half-moat of independent vendors that orbit the shopping centre is being used as a hub for traders. Although they now know the “when”, there is still confusion over “where”. Janzabullah, who owns a stall selling sunglasses, phones, brollies, and suitcases, doesn’t know where he is being moved. He says, “I must move the customer. I need some time.”
He tells me about how the business has suffered since the shutting down of the subway line into the centre, and the rejigging of the roundabout. He wants to move on but is unable to print leaflets and cards telling his customers, whom he has wooed for over 10 years, that he will be available starting July. “No customers. Janzabullah says, “But still I work.” “I pay PS300 per week. It’s a lot.