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1960 1970 1952 1967
Does the planning focus on Elephant & Castles transport
connectivity lead to social disconnect on a local scale? In analysing
the historical and present Opportunity Area planning contexts,
this project argues that the current transport-focused approach
to redeveloping the strategic site surrounding Elephant & Castle
and St Georges Circus will undermine its potential to function as a
local centre, just like over a century of unsuccessful regeneration
schemes that preceded it. The transport capacity to accompany
the development of housing and jobs for new residents and
workers is well-defned and measured while strategies to
integrate them with current residents are neglected. Given that
a perceived disconnect between residents and non-residents
already exists, Opportunity Area planning is likely to exacerbate
this. There is the opportunity for this not to be the case, but this
requires a rethinking of how to use OAs to develop specifc social
infrastructure to bring non-residents, new residents and old
residents together thereby supporting the new centre planners
want to create.
Historical Context
Elephant & Castles primary value has long been understood
in terms of proximity and accessibility to Central London, but
prior redevelopment eforts have not successfully exploited this
resource despite increasingly grand-scale private and public
developments. Over the last few decades, the area has boasted
one of Europes greenest buildings (Eighteen 2005), Londons
greenest building (SLHL 1991), Londons tallest apartment
building (SLP 1959), and Europes biggest shopping centre (SLP
During its 1920s heyday, the messy intersection supported the
Picadilly of the South, collecting people rather than dispersing
them (Humphrey, 2013). Unlike Piccadilly Circus, successive
rationalist reworking of the roads culminated in the 1960s
reshaping into the current pentagon junction, removing the
friction created by the chaos of connecting routes. St Georges
Consortium (Southwark News, 2000), who made a recent bid for
the redevelopment plan, suggested halving the number of lanes
entering the junction in order to reduce the slingshot efect and
quieten the pace, recognising that point-to-point connections
allow for accelerated movement but limit opportunities for
interaction (Hillier 1996:260).
Ruslan Aliev
London School of
Mar 16, 2014 14:26 Scale 1:1000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 m
Landmark Information Group Ltd and Crown copyright 2014. FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.
Ruslan Aliev
London School of
Mar 16, 2014 14:27 Scale 1:1000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 m
Landmark Information Group Ltd and Crown copyright 2014. FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.
Ruslan Aliev
London School of
Nov 01, 2013 14:49 Scale 1:1000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 m
Landmark Information Group Ltd and Crown copyright 2013. FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.
53 1
00m 90 17
00m 91 17
Ruslan Aliev
London School of
Nov 01, 2013 14:52:16 Scale 1:1000
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 m
Landmark Information Group Ltd and Crown copyright 2013. FOR EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY.
Evolution of Junctions
Elephant & Castle Piccadilly Circus
Public Transport Accesibility Level
data source: TfL
3 6B
4 2
As with the surrounding area, the scale of interventions at
the Elephant & Castle junction has been signifcant over the
last century. Before WW2, the interchange was a huge local
asset, encouraging people to stop, shop, and even drop at the
ever-expanding hotel. Its value was not aligned with moving
efciently through it. Bomb damage later opened up big parcels
of land leaving plots for intervention at a scale unusually large for
London. This resulted in a change in purpose from a destination
to a transport junction with a focus on connectivity to the City
rather than the area surrounding it. Not fully understanding
the economic and social consequences of this shift in scale and
purpose may partly be responsible for repeated regeneration
failure thus far.
Present Context
Southwark Council has sold the public Heygate Estate to private
developer Lend Lease for it to be transformed into a [private]
model for high quality urban living (Southwark News, 1998), part
of a larger regeneration efort TfL hope will encourage utilisation
of the transport hubs full potential. This potentially excludes the
nearby shopping centre, which Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel
Dedring (2014) sees as a sub-optimal anchor for the junctions
impending rebirth-by-peninsularisation as it primarily serves local
low-income residents.
Within the London Plan, Opportunity Areas are brownfeld sites
considered resources for providing infrastructure, land, and
investment to support more jobs and houses (2011:60; 2.58).
The Blackfriars Mile is a grouping of sites the local council has
identifed as being able to support brownfelds redevelopment
and density intensifcation (Southwark 2013a) and forms part of
the the Elephant & Castle Opportunity Area, as defned in the
London Plan (2011:60). It focuses interventions around linkage to
bring new people in; it uses the public street to activate a point-
to-point connection between the Thames and the new centre. In
efect, the council sees the development challenge as spatially
and economically connecting London and Elephant & Castle. The
lack of social research in OA planning - at City and local authority
level - forms part of a central critique of this project and informs
the need to fnd a methodology to build social connection into
OA planning.
Though not an Opportunity Area plan, the Urban Forest initiative
does give some priority to encouraging relationships between
the local urban interior and the rapidly developing edges along
Bankside by attempting to soften borders for tourists, using
landscaping to activate pathways through the neighbourhood
(WWMA, 2007:3, 10). Although the Urban Forest has invested
energy in investigating local social networks, it is a private
initiative primarily aimed at tourists (ibid 14).
As these privately-led strategies are operating in a speculative
post-recession environment, they must be delivered relatively
quickly and although they are happening within a policy
framework, they dont directly connect to each other spatially
or temporarily. Both projects allude to the provision of social
infrastructure in their planning but have no clear strategy for
implementation. This lack of strategy for social intervention will
only reinforce the existing problems of Elephant & Castle, the
centre that pins these interventions into south London.
Spatial Fragmentation
data source: Southwark Council & Lambeth Council planning
elephant & castle waterloo
london bridge, borough, bankside
London Bridge BID
Better Bankside BID
Waterloo Quarter BID
TfL Elephant & Castle
TfL Blackfriars Mile
Blackfriars Mile activation (events)
Blackfriars Mile
Elephant & Castle
London Bridge
2004 2014 2026
Just to the north is St Georges Circus, branded as the southern
gateway to central London (Southwark 2013b:14), echoing
that the areas legitimacy is in providing overfow for business
that cannot ft in into the main centre across the Thames. While
attracting investment could bring signifcant opportunity for
new social relationships between residents, new residents and
non-residents, Councils policy on social infrastructure does not
guide where new interventions should happen to strengthen the
relationships between people living and working in the area or
how it will encourage accessibility for all (Southwark 2013a:18;
3.14). Currently, the councils planning report for implementing
OAs defnes the only strategic use for CILs and Section 106
charging schedules as transport mitigation (Southwark Council
2012b:4). CIL legislation allows areas to be compensated for the
cost of infrastructure required to support the development
(2010:12; 14.1a), which may include social infrastructure. The City
of London sees economic opportunity in making Elephant & Castle
a town centre, but a more progressive planning framework can
redevelop the centre in a more sustainable way by ensuring social
infrastructure is in place to support it.
Centres within London
Inner Ring Road
& castle
To understand Elephant & Castles potential to perform as a
centre, we analysed Angel and Old Street, two other major
transport nodes and popular neighbourhood centres along the
London Inner Ring Road and the Northern Line. We consistently
found that the greatest amount of social and economic activity
did not occur in the main node but on the streets just removed.
As residents mitigate the chaos of junctions by seeking
alternative paths to access the areas around them, the centre
reaches beyond the junction. The pedestrian patterns along
these alternative paths attract small-scale retail, enriching and
further extending the centre. As in space resonance theory,
where electron particles infuence those around them in waves of
continuous communication (Wolf 1995), spatially concentrated
interactions resonate outward from urban nodes and manifest
in perceivable physical layers in the urban fabric. This resonance
is best perceived along the streets, as they serve to spread the
centre out (Hall 2012:180).
data source:
Edina , BLOM 2013
Centres are dense concentrations of spatial and social diference,
and they form the types of spaces that philosopher Unger refers
to as zones of heightened mutual vulnerability, within which
people gain a chance to resolve confict while catering to
microlevel defance and incongruity (Unger 1987:562, 564).
This microlevel defance that diferent communities engage with
as they manage their co-existence and come to make sense of the
other is friction. As a force used either to start or stop activity,
friction can have productive or destructive consequences; what
could result in cooperation in some multicultural districts may
lead to tensions and crime in areas where social disconnection
is particularly pronounced. Productive frictions generated by
the negotiation of social, cultural, and political diferences are
actually preferable to consensus (Wittgenstein 1958:46); as
Jane Jacobs (1961) argues, diference stimulates spontaneous
self-diversifcation through which groups assert their infuence
on their neighbourhoods, efectively producing urban space
and driving forward social, cultural, and economic innovation
(Lefebvre 1974; Huvendick & Lenskjold 2004). Thus, friction
can be a resource if channelled to bridge rather than deepen
disconnect, enabling the centre to resonate outward in waves
that overlap and shape its surroundings.
Reading an Open System
Resonance speaks to the centre being part of a larger city context,
a kind of system where the centre both has an infuence on the
periphery and the periphery on the centre. Solving problems
by simply pushing frictions further out from the centre will
only increase socio-spatial inequalities, which will likely have
a far greater negative impact on the centre. City environments
are complex, and everything has an impact on its immediate
surroundings, making it problematic to draw boundaries to create
closed system environments (Batty 2011). Operating within an
open system encourages planners to transfer their development
focus from the central point toward a network of strategically
advantageous beats or pulses (Hall 2012:180) where frictions
overlap. In reaching beyond the centre to a wider audience on
a smaller, more dispersed scale, a distributed development
strategy can be realised that is inclusive of both commuters and
residents (Sassen 2006:29).
The open system includes all of the Opportunity Areas within
Southwark and neighbouring Lambeth, with some overfow into
their immediate surroundings. The scale of the system is larger
than the Local Authority to include relationships beyond borough
boundaries and it focuses on the area north of Elephant & Castle
as its proximity to Central London makes it a contested site of
Any system has the potential to over-simplify or abstract.
Forresters (1969) attempt to use cybernetics to defne all cities as
one system had disastrous consequences; his models advocated
for wide-scale clearing of social housing in favour of luxury homes.
If this system were let loose in Southwark, Elephant Park, the new
Heygate, wont be the only scheme that raises social housing.
The open system recognises that peoples spatial relationship to
the city is an imagined lived experience (Crane 1960), so every
mapped street has been walked; interviews and surveys provided
greater insight into how residents and non-residents relate to
the area; and commuter fows by bus were studied entering and
exiting Elephant & Castle with empirical data sets to confrm our
perceptual analysis.
The open system is one of the ways planners can use Opportunity
Areas to support the regeneration eforts going on across London
by ensuring development does not privilege the centre (Sennet
2008:10), but strengthens the complex interactions necessary
to join up the diferent human groups the city contains (ibid).
The council needs to drive these connections as developers are
unlikely to plan beyond their scheme boundaries. Lend Lease,
for example, were criticised for using major transport links to
develop Westfeld Stratford City as a citadel of high-end retail,
which aim[s] to attract the well-heeled of the region rather than
the local communities around them (Minton 2008:XIV-XV). The
Blackfriars Mile project, as a kind of transport infrastructure
linking London to what is hoped to eventually be a completely
new centre at Elephant & Castle, risks achieving the same result.
However, Opportunity Areas along Blackfriars and around the
Elephant can be used to locate new community resources at
the edges between communities ... to open the gates between
diferent communities (Sennet 2008:11). The following
section of analysis explains how planners can locate and open
these gates.
Locating gates through rhythm analysis
As people move through space, a variety of signals allow the
moods and atmospheres of a place to be judged and interpreted.
In this movement malfunctions of rhythm or arrythmia are
registered as disruptions in the fabric of the city, potentially
prompting people to alter their path (Lefebrve 1974). Arrythmia,
or breaks, can be physical, such as an abrupt change in building
scale, or perceptual, like the unease brought on by a sudden lack
of people in the street. For a centre to be successful at drawing
people in, breaks in approach must be kept to a minimum;
rather, its infuence must resonate in a way that prepares people
for arrival at the central point. To understand the rhythm of
approach to Elephant & Castle, we analysed the movement to it
from Central London using what is considered by Council to be its
greatest asset: public transport.
Specifcally, the analysis covered fve routes crossing the Thames
via Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Southwark, and London
bridges. First we analysed statistical patterns of movement
towards Elephant & Castle using TfL passenger data to determine
points along the routes which were particularly attractive to
pedestrians and which ones they avoided. Densities at bus stops
along four of the routes clearly show Elephant & Castle to be the
busiest, with quieter rings fanning outwards, showing breaks
of signifcantly quieter activity, particularly around St Georges
We then engaged in qualitative perception mapping, recording
our experience along the path to Elephant & Castle while
observing building use, landmarks, changes in urban grain,
signage, movement of fellow passengers, and whether we felt a
sense of preparedness to enter a new centre after leaving Central
Changing patterns in building scale, road capacity, land use, and
street-level activity were observed on each 15-minute route, and
breaks occurred at similar intervals along all fve, supporting
the understanding of centres as nodes that resonate outward
in broad rings. For example, the infuence of the central city is
apparent in the large scale of hotel and ofce buildings from the
Thames down to the railway overpass that crosses all fve routes.
After this point, the size of buildings dramatically reduces to a
more human scale, and they become increasingly geared toward
residential and small business use. The fnal segments of the
route pass through an indeterminate area of generic institutional
and commercial structures that do not provide any spatial cues to
prepare passengers for arrival at the centre. Suddenly, the buses
turn a corner and dump passengers at the Elephant & Castle
junction in a frenzy of vehicular and pedestrian trafc. Such an
approach to the centre is disorientating and suggests that the
infuence of this particular centre does not resonate to integrate
co-existence in a gradual, cohesive way. In this case, the rings meet to
form constraining boundaries that isolate the diferent urban realities
within them, contributing to increasing fragmentation along the bus

Variable Friction: Structural Unemployment
Moving beyond the physical fragmentation of Elephant & Castle, there
are social conditions that may undermine the resonance of the centre.
The Borough of Southwark has a greater job density (1.16) than the city
of London overall (0.98), but signifcantly higher unemployment: 10.5%
vs 9.1% (Nomis 2011; Southwark Council, 2012a:6). When new jobs do
not resolve local unemployment, the cause is generally structural due to
a skills mismatch between residents and the types of jobs available. This
suggests that the focus on Elephant & Castles city-wide accessibility
undermines job accessibility for local residents. Southwark Council
strategies to address unemployment prioritise entrepreneurship and
connecting unemployed to jobs created through new enterprise (ibid
2012a:9). The skills mismatch becomes a destructive local friction
that widens the disconnect between employed and unemployed, thus
hindering the continuous resonance of the centres infuence.
data source: Southwark Council (2012)
Bus stop utilisation: daily occupancy average on bus stops on a week day
The graphic shows the sum of the daily average number of boaders of every bus route using these bus stops.
data source: TfL Bus Service Survey Analysis (2009-2013)
Perceptual analysis of the streets:
breaks perceived on the buses
during our survey.
The analysis of the breaks in the
built environment was conducted
walking along the streets and
experiencing all the bus routes,
taking notes of the landscape and
peoples behaviour on the buses.
travelling south
Waterloo Station
Elephant & Castle
Thames River
Saint Georges
travelling north
The reason behind [the regeneration] is to get
rid of the poor people and bring in new rich
people. Eventually youll have the locals moving out...
unemployed resident,
in shopping mall, late-20s
The people you see at the roundabout are the people
who just come in, not the people who live in the area.
When youre from outside it becomes a concern to you
because you dont really see what is going on there.
security desk employee at LCC,
male, middle-aged
They should build more places that kids could go...
A lot of young children have criminal records before
reaching 18, and its a very bad start for them in life.
father in rising sun pub near
rockingham estate
I used to volunteer at the library but I have a child
now and so I cant work. I wish I could look for a job.
mother in community garden
near heygate estate
2 3
To understand how structural unemployment afects the social
resonance of the area, we conducted 25 in-depth interviews with
local residents, students, and people working but not living in the
area (see appendix B). The interviews took place at the Elephant
& Castle shopping centre, the London College of Communication,
the Elephant & Castle metro station, the Rockingham housing
estate, and at a number of local businesses and on streets
equally distributed between the roundabout and Central London.
Four pervasive themes emerged from these conversations: (1)
transport accessibility is the neighbourhoods greatest asset;
(2) its greatest faw is that there is no place for youth and the
unemployed to hang out; (3) change through regeneration
is welcome, but it must be inclusive and serve the needs of the
existing population; and (4) there is a social disconnect between
residents and non-residents, or those who are moving in due
to the regeneration. We were particularly interested in this
disconnect because it pointed to a destructive friction that could
be undermining the resonance of Elephant & Castle.
The neighborhood feels rundown, it needs business-
es more money and little bit of regeneration. Those
things will help.
job centre employee, non-resident,
male, mid-30s
We developed a methodology for identifying resonance and
frictions around Elephant & Castle to highlight that council does
have the tools at their disposal to measure social concerns directly
related to OA planning. Particular overlaps will be used to identify
sites for strengthening the centre by providing shared access to
spaces for residents, commuters and non-residents. Without this
shared space, the opportunity for developing relationships to
each other and to the spaces supported by the centre is limited.
The following layers provide a quantitative understanding of
the context into which Opportunity Areas are being inserted:
Residential Property Values; Unemployment (Variable Friction)
and Density; Land Use; and Urban Grain and Heights. The Council
uses Opportunity Areas to propose where development can take
place, focusing on transport accessibility. Opportunity areas are
likely to be developed frst and, those that include publically
owned plots present ideal sites for intervention. The 15-year OA
plan includes 56 hectares in total, of which 40% is public land. Of
this public land, 15% has already been developed.
The layers show a complex built environment. Bigger buildings
hug the Thames, showing the infuence the City has across the
river. Moving south, the landscape is interrupted by train tracks
and a mix of lower density typologies made up of continuous street
facades, former industrial buildings, terraced houses, and gated
estates. Approaching and immediately around the Elephant &
Castle is a collection of completely diferent typologies, highrise
modernist shopping centre and buildings and new global city
buildings characterised by a fragmented urban grain. Proceeding
south the density considerably decreases and also the typology
becomes more uniform. The change in grain is refected in the
varied land use, which also highlights how the Elephant & Castle
pulls mixed activity down from the north along the main roads
and limits non-residential use south of the junction.
The multiple layers show how Elephant & Castle and Central
London have an efect of resonance. We can read a double
system. The frst one, consisting of public institutions (mainly
cultural), private institutions (largely educational) and ofces,
attracts people at a metropolitan level; it is developed along the
bank of the river and at Elephant & Castle. The second one, the
local system, is mostly made up of smaller shops spread along
the high streets. Land use identifes this disconnect between
residents and non-residents.
Residential property value clearly shows the infuence of the City,
with land values in the highest band along the Thames, but also
by viaducts and the factory typology east of Blackfriars Mile.
The depressed values along Blackfriars and Elephant & Castle
show the economic rationale behind the Opportunity Areas;
Residential Property Value
Land Use
Urban Grain + Heights
Opportunity Areas
from a Central London perspective, this land is a signifcant
discount, dropping by at least 20% between the north section of
St Georges Circus and Elephant & Castle.
The index of deprivation is used to add a social layer to the physical
and economic frictions. Since local access to jobs presented as
one of the big social disconnects in the area, and to a greater
degree than London, isolating unemployment helps spatially
locate frictions. As stated above, structural unemployment acts
as a friction in that the skills mismatch makes it unlikely these
residents will be able to access many of the new jobs the borough
is producing. Moving away from central London, density triples
from the top of Blackfriars road and mainly concentrates around
Elephant & Castle. Density is used to inform where the highest
pockets of unemployed people are, giving a clearer idea of where
signifcant social frictions exist.
Multiples Layers: mapping
the complexity of the open system
Opportunity Areas
data source: Southwark Council &
Lambeth Council (2014)
publicly owned
approved or being redeveloped
BID boundary
Residential Popertiy Value ()
data source: (2014)
270000 - 320000
320001 - 400000
400001 - 490000
490001 - 560000
560001 - 850000
data source: Indices of deprivation (2010)
0.01 - 0.08
0.08 - 0.10
0.10 - 0.12
0.12 - 0.15
0.15 - 0.22
14- 50
51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 180
181 - 323
Density (people per hectare)
data source: GLA (2013)
Land Use
mixed use - commercial
mixed use - ofces
cultural institutions
non-cultural institutions
public housing
Urban Grain + Heights
data source: Cities Revealed (2012)
building over 20 metres
urban grain
Metropolitan and Local Systems
local use spaces
spaces attracting non-residents
spaces attracting non-residents of
metropolitan importance
Overlaying these layers of analysis produces a map visualising
a complex open system that resonates from the two centres:
Elephant & Castle and central London. The data has been
simplifed to make frictions legible so gates can be identifed.
Opportunity areas already built out have been hidden. BIDs have
been added to show potential partners and the major roads where
visibility is greatest, have been plotted. These streets give a sense
of how people transit through the space and how the diferent
areas are physically connected.
The areas where layers overlap, especially along high-visibility
bus routes, are of interest because they spatially highlight
where frictions are likely to make it difcult for residents and
non-residents to interact meaningfully. By using the OAs to
strategically position social infrastructure in these spaces, these
gates can be opened, thereby unlocking our capacity to live
together (Sennet 2012:200).
Synthesis Map
local use spaces
spaces attracting non-residents
spaces of metropolitan importance
high unemployment + high density zones
opportunity areas
opportunity areas, public
BID boundaries
intervention plots
community centres
South Bank
South Bank
Imperial War
Waterloo Quarter
London Bridge
Better Bankside
and Political Science
London School of Economics
London Bridge
The Open System
System of Intervention
By identifying the areas where social and spatial friction is
concentrated, a strategy can be generated to encourage
relationships across the gates to broadly increase interactions
between residents and non-residents. Councils plan to connect
Elephant & Castle to the City using Blackfriars Mile and other
linkage projects are point-to-point spatial strategies that may
actually reinforce gates. The complexity of cities requires a
system of relationships; the centre will need to have relationships
with the areas around it and not just with regenerated areas.
Cities that develop organically over time possess a rich web of
overlapping connections while building cities like trees is not
ideal as branches can never grow back into each other, which
undermines a citys structural complexity and sustainability
(Alexander 1965:70). Blackfriars Mile emphasises Elephant &
Castles branch character, while the open system adds a layer
of relational complexity to and around the centre, strengthening
the centre.
The open system suggests relationships, both physical and social,
that in a sense build the semi-lattice Alexander (1965) positions
as superior to the tree. Oxford Street, Londons premier high
street, highlights how powerful these lattices can be: space
syntax analysis shows it to be the most physically integrated
street in London (Major, Penn & Hillier 1997:42.03). However,
physical connection alone is not sufcient to integrate non-
residents and residents. The argument proposed is that the best
opportunities for intervention is where social and spatial frictions
collide. Opportunity Areas defned at the borough level provide
great opportunity to develop these social relationships.
What follows are some suggested sites and the relationships that
could be developed, but the same logic could be used to identify
other sites.
[2] On Waterloo Road, St Georges depot is highly visible; retaining
public space here allows for interventions targeted at using these
frictions as a resource to bring residents and non-residents
together. Visibility on the bus network enables non-resident
access, while public land allows residents to not be crowded out
of what is likely to become a contested space for development.
[3] It is possible to give Blackfriars Mile an east-west focus too,
and the mix of interventions may provide value for residents
and non-residents to interact. Strong visibility along the Mile,
with strategic partnerships in quieter locations [4] east of the
street, can be used to draw non-residents further in, encouraging
exploration beyond the gates.
[5] Services can be established at the redeveloped Heygate that
bring existing residents into contact with incoming residents,
while strategic street activations can encourage a relationship
south and east. The redeveloped Heygate will introduce new
friction into an area of mostly social housing; land values will
increase as the new Elephant Park is marketed to afuent
clientele. This highlights the need for an understanding of how
big projects will infuence the surrounding social landscape.
[1, 6, 7, 8] The system of intervention does not require everything
to be done simultaneously. Future projects that increase
relationships can extended further from Elephant & Castle.
Rather than linking point-to-point, which serves to spatially
fragment rather than strengthen the centre, these interventions
work together. The current massive redevelopment of brownfeld
sites provides the possibility to consider the opportunity of these
areas beyond the built environment, economic development and
transport accessibility. The availability of so much land, much
of it public, in close proximity to the centre of London is also a
resource for the social structure of the City. Social fragmentation
in this case can be addressed spatially by retaining public land.
Rethinking Social Opportunity
Policy for the development of urban centres must aim to integrate
economically-focused initiatives with cultural and social services
for the beneft of local residents (Porta 2011:44). Similarly, where
new centres are created out of Opportunity Areas, council need
to consider the long-term social impact of projects to ensure
the short-term, isolated approach taken by the private sector
is balanced by providing necessary social infrastructure (FALP
2014:59). This presents a challenge in an austerity environment
where public land is increasingly sold to developers.
Providing efective social infrastructure is all the more challenging
within a planning ideology that tends to identify Opportunity Areas
on the basis of underutilised transport infrastructure. At both City
and borough level, the conceptualisation of opportunity as a
means to create more jobs and houses is far too narrow and limits
the priority of providing social infrastructure. While an interest
in developing Londons social infrastructure and fostering social
interaction amongst groups is expressed in planning documents
at both City and Council level (FALP 2014; SPD 2012), there
is no clear strategy for implementing social infrastructure
interventions, measuring their impact, or using them to generate
relationships between residents and non-residents.
We advocate for a conceptual shift by proposing two policy
recommendations to the New London Plan, which is currently
under consideration:
1. The performance of social infrastructure can be measured
according to the English Indices of Deprivation, which combine a
number of statistical indicators to analyse which areas experience
high levels of social, economic, and housing-related deprivation.
This data can help to determine local frictions and where they
could be turned into resources to plan what types of interventions
would be most efective in the development of new social
2. To ensure the long-term impact of social infrastructure, the
council must act now to systematically retain or buy public land
on desired intervention sites before it is developed by privately-
led regeneration eforts; where public land is sold, revenues
should go purchase replacement land. Section 106 and the CIL are
charges that council can levy to compensate local communities
when development takes place, and the revenue can be used most
strategically by going towards the retention or purchase of public
land distributed across the open system. Using this approach, the
public is more able to contest increasingly privatised spaces into
the future.
Opportunity Areas should be more than fnancial centres (Sassen
2009:225). But advocating for more social infrastructure is
not a matter of either-or; in fact, it can have massive positive
externalities on economic progress. In addressing inequalities
and bridging disconnect, social infrastructure has the potential to
drive development by enhancing human capital (Familoni 2006).
It ofers a chance to build both social and economic relationships
to ensure more distributed growth and prevent social inequalities
and decay (Sassen 2009:234-5). Therefore, broadening the
understanding of opportunity to include the provision of both
social and economic infrastructure is in the best interest of the
City as well as residents.
Opening the Gates
To balance the efects of private development in Elephant &
Castle, Southwark Councils frst priority should be to retain or
acquire the public land. Determining its use must be fexible and
include the participation of all parties involved in order to leave
an essential part of the process to those who are most intimately
connected with it: the ultimate consumers or citizens (Mumford
on Geddes 1950:86-7).
Along the high-friction gates identifed within the open system
resonating from the centre, we located specifc sites for
interventions that could serve to open these gates. The process of
site identifcation is two-fold: on a human scale, the intervention
must encourage physical and social interaction between
disconnected groups. On an urban scale, the sites must be widely
distributed in order to use frictions productively to support
the resonance of the centre. Thus, friction will be channeled to
encourage connection rather than disconnection.
The next step is to determine the function that each intervention
will have. Frictions can only be used productively if the activities
at each site relate directly back to the social contexts of the open
system. In the case of Elephant & Castle, the professional skills
gap is one of the greatest disconnects in the area, resulting in high
employment for local residents. If neglected, this diference might
generate frictions in the form of social tensions, displacement,
and potentially deepening socio-economic inequalities. To
instead use the friction as a resource to bridge disconnection and
create a more socially and physically cohesive open system, the
functions of the Elephant & Castle interventions must deal with
the skills gap and with social disconnect in some manner.

Beyond these social, spatial, and political strategies, our system
is not prescriptive; a variety of sites, including non-OA sites, and
functions could produce the desired results. However, to envision
the success of this systematic approach to development, we
carried the process through for exemplar projects at four sites
within the Elephant & Castle system.
Ownership model
retain, purchase and distribute public land
Private Land Unused Public Land
Retain public / private
partnership for
Purchase Private
Redistributed Public
Land Shared Revenues
Weekend Barter
Network Co-Op Food
Childcare &
Language Centre
Youth Centre &
Exhibition Space
3 4
Local data and in-depth stakeholder interviews should be
analysed to imagine how the function of each intervention could
address unemployment or its negative efects. According to a
council-generated survey, local residents identify the biggest
problem in Southwark as lack of things for young people to do
(Southwark Council 2011:9). A number interviews also confrmed
that residents are concerned with the lack of activities for youth
and the unemployed. From another perspective, a local mother
expressed that she wanted to work but had to look after her child.
Statistical fndings in Southwark confrm more economically
inactive women desire to work than men, suggesting greater
barriers for women to fnd jobs (Southwark Council 2012a:7).
Finally, other interviews revealed that residents, particularly the
unemployed, fear regeneration will drive up prices in local shops.
All of these concerns informed the suggestions for potential
interventions. As proof-of-concepts, examples are inspired by
existing projects from cities around the world.
All job-related initiatives would be connected to Employ SE1,
a job placement network established by the Southwark and
Waterloo BIDs. The Council has already advocated for expanding
this network to include more organisations, so linking it to these
interventions would further the goal of resolving unemployment
(Southwark Council 2012a). The London Plan policy 4.12
(FALF 2014:151-2) also supports eforts to remove barriers to
employment through local skills development and providing
business start-up space and afordable childcare facilities.
Plot Specifcations to
determine future project
Site Specifc Context
At a highly visible area, with
many bus routes; near mixed
use buildings & schools
Status of Land Ownership
Owned by TfL; Council owned D1
(Westminster Bridge Road 5a)
Bridging Disconnect
Space that can attract visitors from
across London due to accesibility;
important location in the borough
Reach of Resonnance
London-wide reach
Youth Development Centre and Exhibition Space
Ownership and Partnership
Negotiation + Agreement
TfL Land
partially sold
Self Financed
Public Asset
Public Building
*CATEGORY D1: In The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, Part D,
Class D1 includes non-residential institutions; any use not including a residential use.
**SEMAVIP in Paris is an example of how the public sector can participate in the
development process and retain part of the revenues through increased land values .
public / private
partnership for
development **
Exemplar 1: Youth Development Centre and
Exhibition Space
The Bakerloo Depot OA next to St Georges Circus is valuably
positioned between the private development on Blackfriars Road
and Elephant & Castle roundabout. When TfL sells the land to
developers, the council could negotiate a partnership to use some
of the land along with the portion they already own (Westminster
Bridge Road 5a) to support a youth centre and exhibition space.
At the centre young people could practise visual and performing
arts, and those not in school or employed could learn job skills. Just
as in the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, Massachusetts,
the youth would work with the staf to organise desired
programmes, taking ownership of the centre while learning how
to enter the labour market. Next to the centre on the same plot
would be a public space for exhibitions and performances of their
projects. Modelled after Paris Le Centquatre public performance
establishment, this public space would connect young residents
with visitors from elsewhere. This two-part intervention gives
youth a place to go while bridging the structural unemployment
gap by providing skills and placement opportunities.
Exemplar 2: Blackfriars Food Cooperative
The highly visible, publicly-owned opportunity areas near
Blackfriars Road are ideal for a linked intervention to counteract
the areas privatisation and to provide a space where residents
and non-residents could meet. On one site, a cooperative market
could supply locally-sourced products at discounted rates to
members who work a few hours per month, allowing access to
afordable food and to an afliation of co-workers from diferent
areas. The council would retain the land, but the co-op could be
run by a non-proft with subsidised rents. An existing example of
this model is the Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn, New York,
where membership is diverse and based on a wide catchment
area. The co-op also provides an alternative to the proliferation
of chain-food stores, something bemoaned by the Blackfriars
Landowners Forum (2014).
Exemplar 3: Weekend Barter Market
A nearby plot is privately-owned. The Council could temporarily
use it to host a weekend barter market while the developer waits
for the land value to increase, and people from across London
could come together to exchange labour hours for services.
The market could be managed by the same organisation as the
food cooperative, and may even sell fresh produce. Examples of
similar initiatives are Londons Local Exchange Trading Scheme
(which recently closed its Southwark branch) and Zumbara Time
Bank in Istanbul.
b. Weekend Barter Network
Temporary Agreement
Temporary Use
Private Development
Private Land
a. Co-Op Market
a.Co-Op Market
Landlord Agreement
Sustainable Asset Revenue
Public Land
Negotiation + Agreement
b. Barter Network
Site Specifc Context
a. Highly visible plot
b. Slightly hidden plot
Status of Land Ownership
a. Public land
b. Private land
Bridging Disconnect
a. Commercial meeting space
b. Local network
Reach of Resonnance
a. London-wide reach
b. Southwark-wide reach
Child Care + Language Centre
Purchase and Partnership
Public Land
Public Asset S106/CIL
Regeneration Agreement *
Private Land Revenue
*REGENERATION AGREEMENT in respect of Elephant & Castle (09/2010)
section 6.2 The Council shall be entitled to Proft Overage equal to 50 percent
of the Net Proft.
Exemplar 3: Childcare and Language Center
The proximity of the Heygate Estate to the roundabout and
the friction the new upscale housing will create with Walworth
Road make it a strategic location for intervention. The council
could use the revenue gained from the sales agreement to buy
back a portion of the scheme, and this portion could serve as an
afordable childcare centre and a language institute for adults
taught by local instructors. Economically inactive mothers could
receive free childcare while seeking work, but the centre would
also available to local residents. As nearly 20% (CIS 2013:5) of
Southwarks population has a main language other than English,
ESL and other language courses could help them secure jobs.
Native speakers of other languages could teach courses or
provide immersion sessions to native English speakers as well.
Plot Specifcations to
determine future project
Site Specifc Context
Within the premises of a former Estate Building;
surrounded by Estates
Status of Land Ownership
Formerly Public Land; Council have proft share
Bridging Disconnect
Meeting place for new residents and current
Reach of Resonnance
Southwark-wide reach
Interrelational & Organisational




Physical Network
local use spaces
spaces of metropolitan
importance and attracting
intervention plots
intervention plots
community centres
open system connections
new project interactions
intergration with existing
social centres (D1)
open system stakeholders
Our suggestions for strategically bridging disconnect within an
open system come at a time when social infrastructure is being
developed and reworked in innovative ways throughout the
City of London. In little over a decade, Tower Hamlets Council
has reestablished the importance of city libraries for local
residents by implementing a network of Idea Store Libraries that
add adult education classes, career support and training, and
leisure areas to traditional library services. The new Kings Cross
redevelopment includes Kings Place, a commercial and cultural
hub that used Section 106 monies to build a public concert
hall and secure space for three orchestras. The Coin Street
Community Builders trust has worked to regenerate Londons
South Bank while incorporating mixed-use social resources and
public spaces such as the Oxo Tower Wharf and Bernie Spain
Gardens. These schemes work to bring people together, but our
open system framework calls for addressing disconnect in a more
spatially strategic way and through retention of public assets in
order to balance private infuence.
To facilitate the relationships between the diverse range of
stakeholders implicated in Elephant & Castles redevelopment,
we advocate for a shift in the perception of how to build a
successful urban centre. The Council has already identifed
disconnect and unemployment as problems that require policy
attention. The Blackfriars Mile and Urban Forest initiatives
address this disconnect by economically and spatially linking
Elephant & Castle to the north. The regeneration will draw in new
people of higher socio-economic status, which could produce
destructive frictions that will widen inequalities in the area and
further disconnect residents who already experience difculty
accessing many of the benefts of a strong local economy. If we
spatially identify where these frictions are generated, we can
use them productively to start interaction rather than prevent it.
Approaching Elephant & Castle as an open system of strategically
placed public assets allows for a more nuanced policy intervention
framework with many benefts: it provides opportunities for
connections between non-residents, new residents and old
residents; it strengthens the resonance of the centre and
increases access by widely distributing sites for intervention; and
it builds relationships between these sites as well as other area
stakeholders who might not otherwise connect. Finally, the open
system framework highlights the capacity the council already has
to develop Opportunity Areas as resources for social beneft as
well as economic impact. Using this open system to strategically
retain public land for the provision of social infrastructure is
critical to realising the potential of Elephant & Castle in a way that
does not repeat the history of failed regeneration eforts.
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Interview Methodology
Sample from the street/shops, at diferent times (weekday lunch/
rush hour evening/Saturday afternoon/night time), record the
interviews with our phones (w permission), make our student
positions clear, ask questions in hierarchy shown below.
time, location

Do you live in this neighbourhood (postcode)?
Why are you here?
What is your profession?

If living in the area:
How long have you lived here?
Is this a part of London you want to stay in?
What attracts you to the neighbourhood?
Whats the centre of this neighbourhood?
When you leave the neighbourhood (day-to-day), what do you
leave to do?

If working or visiting:
How long does it take you to get here?

Whats missing from the area?
Is there anything you wish were physically diferent with the area?
Do you think it is safe here?
If you were to encourage a friend from out of town to visit the
area for a day, how would you sell it?
If you were to encourage a friend to move here, how would you
sell it?
Is there anything else youd like to add that I didnt ask you?
Key: I (I1) interviewer 1
I2 interviewer 2
R (R1) respondent 1
R2 respondent 2
Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre 1
I: How long have you been living in the area?
R1: [For] 15 years.
I: What do you think are the best things about the neighborhood?
R1: Cosmopolitan society, centrality, transport is here:
Underground, Overground. It is central
I: Do you work nearby?
R1: I do. And I have access to transport when I dont work nearby.
I: What do you think is missing in the neighborhood?
R1: We need fun. What is missing is more facilities for the
unemployed: more leisure centres, theatres, cinemas and things
like that; things for people to go so they do not have to go to the
West End. More facilities for amusement.
I: What do you do on the weekend?
R1: There are not many places on Elephant & Castle. Most people
go to the Ministry of Sound, which is a well-known place for
music. And we also have is just one sports centre right on the
corner. Apart from these things... not much here.
R2: The shopping centre is the only amenity we have. Nothing to
do here.
I: How do you feel about the new plans for the shopping centre
R1: When is this gonna happen?
I: 5 years. How do you feel about it?
R1: I am all right. But will it stand for the local neighborhood? The
people who live here, will it not be too expensive for them to go
there? Will it have the shops that we like? I dont know.
R2: The reason behind it is to get the rich people in, get rid of poor
people. Eventually, youll have the locals moving out.
I: If you need to invite friends who have never been to London
before in the neighborhood, how would you sell it?
R1: If I had a friend coming from abroad, I will bring him here just
because I live here. This is not a place for sightseeing. West End is
a place for sightseeing. But it does have a few: the [Imperial] War
Museum is just around the corner, Bingo upstairs There is not
much for sights. I wouldnt bring a friend to Elephant and Castle. I
will take him to [INAUDIBLE].
I: But even not for sightseeing. If you want to show what you love
about where you live, is there particular street
R1: The only thing I can show what I love this is the shopping
centre. This is the main attraction.
R2: And the Underground.
R1: The Underground which is very low-cost. And the bus stops.
I: Anything you guys wanna add?
R2: Give your fnal project to the council so that the council can
see what we said.
I: We are planning to do that.
Student at UAL
I: How old are you?
R: 23.
I: Do you live around here?
R: Yeah.
I: How far do you live?
R: Bermondsey, which is like 15-20 minutes away.
I: How long have you been living there?
R: 3 years.
I: So is this the part of London you want to stay in? Why?
R: Yeah. It is more central. I used to live quite out of London. That
is the reason.
I: What attracts you to the neighborhood?
R: It is up-and-coming! I live in an estate and everything around us
is being redone since the Olympics. It is a nicer place to be.
I: If you are to encourage your friend to come and visit you how
would you sell the neighborhood?
R: Really really close to all the bars and clubs.
I: And what about to move here? If you wanted your friend to
move here how would you...
R: I wont recommend someone to move here because it is just so
expensive. I already did a study and... yeah, it is expensive.
I: What do you think is the centre of this neighborhood?
R: I dont know. It is all housing.
I: When you leave the neighborhood what do you leave to do?
R: Uni.
I: What do you think is missing?
R: Nothing really. Everything is all right.
I: Did it get safe?
R: It is safer. Now...
I: What do you think is missing?
R: Nothing really. Everything is all right.
I: Do you wish anything physically diferent for the neighborhood?
R: Do it a bit nicer. The shopping centre is a little bit dodgy. A lot
of people there begging, asking for money and it always smells
like weed.

The Rising Sun Pub
I1: So you live around the area?
R1: Yeah.
I1: For how long?
R1: All of my life.
I1: What is your favourite thing about this neighborhood?
R1: [laughs] Well This neighborhood?
I1: What do you like doing around here? Where would you like to
R1: Stay in bed! Then coming down to the pub for a couple of
drinks then go home, cause we are working so we cant get out
a lot.
I1: So you have the kids you said?
R1: Yeah
I1: Is there a place nearby where your kids like to play?
R1: Yeah, we got parks. Down that way. There is a park down there,
massive one. They jump on a bus and go to that park. St. James Park.
I1: What do you not like about the area?
R1: I dont know. I suppose it might be a bit more modern. Like you
know, there are a lot of Tescos coming in, big buildings. My mom the
other day They opened the new building which now blocks the place.
The neighborhood is too tight. There is too much of new development
carrying on. People are losing their houses. Old houses are being knocked
down and they build new ones, shopping centres, everything And
people dont like that.
I1: So you want more stores?
R1: No, we got enough. Look. There was a big business. Next door - a
little business. [Little business] not working anymore.
I1: So you prefer to help small business stay?
R1: Yeah, survive. But I cant help them! The government should help
I1: When you go to do your shopping do you usually go to the smaller
local places?
R1: I go to Tescos.There a lot of shopping around. When you got down the
road and you want a box of cigarettes or a drink you dont go to Tescos,
do you? You go to a little shop. That is what people want.
R2: Sometimes you get those things cheaper in the Tesco.
I2: You say that the government should be in charge, but is there any
sense of community? Do you have places or websites? Do you get any
chance to express your opinion?
R1: We have social clubs for people to go, for kids 16, 17, 18. We have
a social clubs where they can go to play table tennis, keep them of the
street, out of trouble.
I1: Are they nearby? Do they really work?
R2: They used to have them but now they shut them down! There is one
down this road, there is a big park there, just before the mosque. There
is a new place where kids can go to play games, you know, when the kids
are on holiday and all that to keep them of the street. Ive seen kids like 13
years old selling drugs and 12-year olds sitting on drugs.
I1: And do kids go?
R2: Yeah, on holidays there are a lot of kids in there. When we were in that
age, we used to go to one on [INAUDIBLE] Street. We paid nothing. But
the government, they shut them all down.
R1: Do you live here?
I1: No, we just doing a project?
R1: Do people talk to you?
I1: Yeah.
R1: You see, they are friendly in here. But people are rough as well. The
area is very dangerous.
I1: So do you feel safe? Is this a safer place that Elephant and Castle itself?
R1: I dont go to the Elephant and Castle. I just dont need to. I got the
tube station here. Everyday I do the same work.
I1: So you live close by?
R1: Yeah, like 6-7 minutes from here.
I1: Do you think that a lot of people have lived here for a long time like
R1: Yeah, because in London, yeah, we have postcodes SE1, SE17, SE16.
SE1 is better than SE17, it is below. Postcode depends on the
area. You understand? The lower the number - the better. You
must know that the government always, probably in whole
Europe, Italy, America, the government only spends money
on nice places. They dont spend much on such places. It is sad
because Ive been living here for all of my live and Ive never seen
nothing else, all the same. Old houses are going and businesses
going because the big shops are opening - same thing.
I1: So you think that having this kind of social centres would be
the best thing to add?
R1: Yeah, because any [kind of] education keeps children and
students of the street.
I2: So you went there as a kid?
R1: Yeah, I went to a playground where professional teacher looks
after you because mommy and daddy, they must work. Its hard
to live in this country for everyone. I was born in 1966 and my
birthday is tomorrow...
I1: Oh, happy birthday!
R1: ...and I think there should be more places where kids can go
cause if the kids dont go there they gonna stay on the street and
they gonna make lots of trouble, they gonna take drugs just as he
[R2] said and things like that and this makes an area very rough.
So the government should spend more money on the kids who
live here. All the young children have a criminal record before
they even reach 18 which is a very bad start for them in live.
They wont get the job cause it is difcult to do with the criminal
record, especially the job they want. For example, if somebody
studied to be a teacher and he had a criminal record you have no
chance [to become a teacher].
I2: I have a question.
R1: The last one
I2: Ok, since you are living here for such a long period of time
would you collaborate with the government to do something in
the area?
R1: No, I never take money from the government, no social
benefts. Never! I worked my whole life. I bought a house, paying
mortgage 700 every month. And I have 2 kids, I look after
them. And the government never gave me anything; I archieved
everything myself. Government is always ready to take. If you
own anything extra government is always ready to take [it] of
I2: This is true...
R1: ...because everybody know that rich government make poor
people. This country, Germany, Belgium, everywhere. And what
we gonna do in this country?
[after wrapping the dialogue adds]
And if you can do anything, yeah, you might consider building a
park on this side as well. Nobody even can a walk a dog here. We
already said that but the government in this country cant listen
to anybody anyway. Look, we now have 400,000 Romanians and
Bulgarians coming in. This country is 75 million people. You know
how many people are unemployed? 1.7 million! And if there more
and more people coming it this [fgure] is gonna go higher. People
will be sleeping in the streets.
I2: Where was your mom from?
R1: Cyprus.
I2: Nobody stopped her from coming here.
R1: But people from Cyprus came into this country before the
[Second World] war. They were here. Whatever the British people
think. All people had very hard time This country is still building
up from the war. All of these [building] are knocked down from
the war, you see?
I1: Is there a big Cypriot community in this neighborhood?
R1: Yeah, there is. And it is a big one. We have shops, cafes similar
to those Italians have, Brazilians have, many Americans have,
Australians Everybody in this country has his own section
[ethnic area]. There is Little Italy, here in London. You wont see in
a lot of countries.Germany and France, they are similar [to Britain
in terms of ethnic diversity]... America as well. I have to go...