View of the estate from Strata Tower, Elephant & Castle in June 2009.
|Location||Elephant and Castle, Walworth, Southwark, London, England|
|Status||Demolition under way|
|Demolished||2011 (Site 1)
October 2013 - Present (Site 2 and 3)
The Heygate Estate is a large housing estate located in Walworth, Southwark, south London. The estate is currently being demolished as part of the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle area. It was home to more than 3,000 people.
The Corbusian concept behind the construction of the estate was of a modern living environment. The neo-brutalist architectural aesthetic was one of tall, concrete blocks dwarfing smaller blocks, surrounding central communal gardens. The architect's concept was to link all areas of the estate via concrete bridges, so there was no need for residents to walk on pavements or along roads. In fact, it was even planned to build bridges to the neighbouring Aylesbury Estate, further south in Walworth.
The estate was once a popular place to live, the flats being thought light and spacious, but the estate later developed a reputation for crime, poverty and dilapidation. One resident complained about constant noise, crime and threats of violence as a result of the estate being used for temporary housing ahead of its redevelopment. He claimed that the sheer scale of many of the blocks also meant there was little sense of community. However, other residents disagreed that the estate should have been considered a slum and an eyesore, or that the buildings failed to foster a sense of community. Around 30 separate testimonies from former residents have been collated by a local microblogging site. Architect Tim Tinker described the estate's 'notorious' reputation as a "farrago of half-truths and lies put together by people who should have known better."
In 1999 Southwark council's Director of Regeneration Fred Manson sparked controversy when in an interview about the Elephant & Castle regeneration he claimed that "social housing generates people on low incomes coming in and that generates poor school performances, middle-class people stay away."
The Elephant and Castle regeneration is a £1.5billion scheme to redevelop the area around the Elephant and Castle road junction. The first phase includes the complete demolition of the Heygate Estate, to be replaced with 2,500 new homes. Its demolition will cost approximately £15 million, with £44m already spent on emptying the estate and a further £21.5 million spent on progressing its redevelopment.
Heygate residents were originally promised new homes as part of the regeneration, but these had not been built by the time they were 'decanted' off the estate in 2007.
Ironically, earlier regeneration plans had included a proposal for redevelopment of the estate under the auspices of a Community Land Trust, however the Council had rejected this proposal on the grounds that it would reduce the land value available to the Council.
In Feb. 2013, the last remaining residents on the estate appeared at a public inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Order issued on their homes. The residents are part of local group 'Better Elephant', which is proposing alternatives to demolition in its Neighbourhood Plan.
The Compulsory Purchase Order was confirmed in July 2013 amid reports  that the remaining residents were being forced to relocate.
In September 2013, a London Assembly report  claimed that Southwark Council had looked at different options for the estate in 1998. It said the surveyors found that the buildings were structurally sound and suggested that the best option was refurbishment. It said that the survey also found that four in five residents didn’t want to move off the estate, and that the crime rate was half the average for the borough of Southwark.
Timeline of Developments
In July 2010, final planning approval for the Elephant and Castle regeneration was granted by Southwark Council.
In April 2011, demolition started on the Heygate Estate.
The remainder of the estate is not due to be demolished until 2015. The reason for such a lengthy process is due to large amounts of asbestos within the estate's construction.
In August 2012 the remaining leaseholders on the estate were served with a Compulsory Purchase Order by Southwark Council. The group of leaseholders have said they intend to object to the Order on the grounds that the redevelopment plan proposes no affordable housing and does not have a provision for renewable energy.
In October 2012 MP Simon Hughes called for the first detailed Heygate planning application to be withdrawn because it proposes just eight social rented homes. Outline planning permission for the Heygate site proposes 2,535 new homes in total of which just 79 will be social rented.
Heygate in popular culture
Due to its urban decay and location, the estate has been extensively used as a filming location. Films have included Attack the Block, Shank and Harry Brown, World War Z, Luther (series 1 ep. 2), The Bill TV series, and gang drama Top Boy. High profile music videos, including "Hung Up" by Madonna and "Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away)" by David Guetta have also been filmed on the estate. In total, 76 films have been made on the estate over three years to 2010, earning Southwark Council £91,000 in fees.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heygate Estate.|
- E&C Regeneration - Southwark Council website
- In Pictures: The Heygate Estate, SE17 – A Modern Secret Garden? - Londonist, 3 April 2011