The regeneration of the Elephant & Castle is one of the largest and most controversial redevelopment programmes underway in London. It involves the demolition of the Heygate Estate, the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and the creation of new housing, shopping and commercial spaces.
The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre will be redeveloped as part of the wider regeneration process. At the time of writing the future of the Shopping Centre and its traders is uncertain. The Shopping Centre is a place of huge diversity and is much loved by many local people. Local blogs point out that Elephant & Castle’s current residents rely on the many independent shops offering affordable goods and services and do not want, and won’t be able to afford, many of the high street chains being imagined for the redeveloped shopping centre. But more importantly, local blogs point out that the regeneration process makes the strength of local communities invisible in the planning and development process by focusing on deprivation and social needs and not on what the Shopping Centre contributes to the local community.
Social Life have conducted an independent research project over the last couple of months to understand how traders in the Elephant & Castle shopping centre are being affected by the proposed regeneration. We sought to understand how the proposed changes are affecting people now and how they will impact on traders and customers and their businesses, livelihoods, friendships and local relationships in the future. Attempting to understand the shopping centres social value as well as economic.
The results of the research will be available to view as part of our 'Trading Places' exhibition. The exhibition will run for one day only on the 4th of September between 12pm - 6pm (last enterance 5pm) in the main entrance area of Elephant & Castles Coronet Theatre. Results from the research will be accompanied by photography of the shopping centre and its traders by Errol Francis. 'Trading Places' is being hosted as part of the Unusual Suspects Festival and will make up one part of Social Life's walk-shop on 'How to engage local communities throughout redevelopment and regeneration projects?'.