Elephant and Castle is becoming a better place for pedestrians.
The Elephant Park development and the redevelopment of the shopping centre are at the heart of this process; opening up new routes and reconnecting Walworth Road to the new Elephant and Castle town centre.
But there are many other projects that have already been completed or are now underway as well.
Lendlease’s Elephant Park development will be home to a major new central London park. The first part of the park is already open at Elephant Road. In addition to this project, £6m of regeneration money is being spent on improvements to six other local parks.
St Mary’s Churchyard Park
St Mary’s Churchyard has been transformed. The park has been re-landscaped and a new children’s playground installed; along with a new plaza, pond, fountains and seating. The park is also home to the new Castle Centre and Southwark Playhouse will move into a new, purpose-built theatre here, later this year (2021).
Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park
Home to the Imperial War Museum, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park is being improved in two phases. The park keeper’s lodge has been refurbished and the next phase will deliver a new playground.
Part of the Pullens Estate conservation area, this park has undergone a complete redesign to make it a more inviting space and somewhere for local children to play.
Victory Community Park
The sports and play facilities at Victory Community Park are due to be upgraded. The pathways will be resurfaced and entrances and fencing will also be improved. Victory Place, the street that borders the south side of the park has already been made more welcoming for pedestrians and further improvements will be made to Balfour St, which runs along the east side of the park.
Dickens’ Fields reopened in autumn 2021 following a major revamp. The transformation combines what was Dickens Square Park; the site of the old adventure playground and Butterfly Walk into one, stunning, new, public green space, now renamed Dickens Fields. The revamp includes new entrances and pathways, better design and new signage. There are new benches, furniture and outdoor gym equipment and a new playground named after Anne Keane, who lived nearby on the Rockingham estate.
Adjacent to the park, the council has introduced a permanent width restriction to Harper Road with further work pending to make the area more pleasant for walking.
Nursery Row Park
Significant improvements are planned for the East Street entrance as well as an upgrade to the current play provision.
Regeneration has created three new squares in Elephant and Castle.
Transport for London reconfigured the road layout at the Elephant and Castle junction to create Elephant Square in 2016. What was formerly an inaccessible traffic island has been transformed into a new, pedestrianised public space with the famous Michael Faraday Memorial at its centre and direct access to the Northern line station. Find out more
Castle Square, next to the entrance to the mainline station on Elephant Road, was built in 2016 as part of the first phase of the town centre development. This pedestrianised space, which opens onto the new park at Elephant Park, is currently home to many small, independent businesses that relocated from the shopping centre in autumn 2020. Find out more
In 2018, the western end of Wansey Street (at the junction with Walworth Road) was pedestrianised and landscaped to create Walworth Square. Part of the Elephant Park development, this new square is home to the Southwark Memorial and when it reopens, the restored Walworth Town Hall will open directly onto this open space. Find out more
Launched in 2017, Walk Elephant is a community initiative to improve walking routes around the neighbourhood.
Inspired by similar, community-led projects in the area (such as East Walworth Green Links and Lamlash Garden) the initiative was kick-started by a series of walks around the Elephant. Local residents took part in the walks to identify opportunities for improvements to help pedestrians, such as new crossings, better landscaping or clearer signage.
These were plotted on a communal map under three headings: Green Links: streets which could be improved by ‘greening’ (trees and plants etc). Low Line: walking routes along and across the north-south railway line. Better Streets: improvements to the roads that connect people to the Elephant and the Elephant to the river.
Southwark council is now helping the community to bring the best of these ideas to life.
By seeking support and funds from a variety of sources, including Southwark’s Cleaner Greener Safer programme, local property developers and crowdfunding, it’s hoped that many of these small projects could be underway within a year. Current proposals include:
– extending the green on the Newington estate to create a better walking route through to Steadman Street
– work on the Alberta estate to improve the communal gardens
– improvements to Hampton Street and Steedman Street to create a better walking route from Newington Butts to Elephant Park
– the Castle Place Project to reclaim two neglected sites near Hayles Street for the community and open up a new pedestrian route to West Square
Walk Elephant maps (PDF):
And take a look at all the ideas generated since these maps were created on the Walk Elephant website.
The Low Line
The Low Line is a scheme to create a walking route alongside the railway viaducts which connect Elephant and Castle to Borough, Bankside and Waterloo.
It started to take shape with the creation of Spare Street – a new street created near the Strata. In the process, five redundant arches have been transformed into a permanent home for local, not-for-profit enterprise, Hotel Elephant. This was soon followed by a number of other initiatives stretching from Spare Street to Manor Place,
A little further north (but outside of the regeneration area) Flat Iron Square and Old Union Yard both demonstrate the kind of improvements which could be made elsewhere and the Low Line’s new, Green Vision sets an eco-friendly template for future initiatives across the whole route.