The Elephant in the Park

The word ‘viability’ has a clinical ring to it, but it’s at the heart of London’s current restructuring. Oliver Wainwright’s recent epic piece on the capital’s redevelopment looks at ‘how developers exploit [the] flawed planning system to minimise affordable housing‘. It’s a depressing read, not just for the economic shenanigans used to justify the scale, scope and pricing of developments, but the way in which the new generation of large scale international developers have been handed large swathes of the city on a cut-price plate, ripe for demographic ‘rehabilitation’.

This extends from the Balfron Tower in the east (‘sold‘ for refurbishment) to the great Heygate Diaspora at the Elephant and Castle. The latter continues to be a high profile cause, with sites like Heygate was Home setting out the ‘notorious’ estate’s human side and repeating ‘the broken promises of regeneration’. In a nutshell, the affordable homes quota demanded by the Council was negotiated down by the developer because it would have impacted on the ‘economic viability’ of the scheme. This despite the site being sold for an incredibly low price – £50M – after many years of decanting residents, often against their will, and talking down the estate as a whole. To cap it all, the cheapest apartment we could find at the new Elephant Park – ‘Central London’s greenest new place to live‘, no less – comes in at £563,000. Above image, the Heygate as it might have been, courtesy of Better Elephant. Vice’s video series on the Regeneration Game is also worth a watch.

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