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Around the Elephant & Castle

Summer, 2017. Interviews with business owners local to Elephant & Castle.

With all these new builds going up and the Heygate [estate] being knocked down, there's already a lot of griping about the heart of the area getting ripped out. The last thing it needed, is a pub that named the area; the pub that used to be across the road from the tube station; the area has been called the Elephant & Castle because the pub here for the last 250 years. So that shut, would be the end of such a huge chapter. /.../ I'd like to see as time progresses it become more of a destination. A lot of that is down to how they redevelop the shopping centre. If it's not done right, it could completely screw everything up.
“It’s changed somewhat [the area], when I was young it was just mediocre. ‘Elephant & Castle, so what?’ It’s lost its history and then when I came back from America, from what I’ve seen, it has lost it even further... There is no way that Elephant & Castle will just be for the rich. There will be middle income, low income, still in Elephant & Castle. So we need to do something for everybody but do something that will appeal to everyone. People disagree and call it gentrification, I call it development.” John from Black Cowboy Coffee and Waffles. A unique coffee stall that stands out in the market which fills the open space around the 60s built shopping centre. Eventually the market place will be closed down when the centre is demolished, but John isn’t concerned. “I’m building something.”
“I hope we don’t need to stop, because we don’t just have our own lives to carry on with - apart from that we have employees. Between the businesses we have around 20 employees, and I believe it’s not just myself that will be effected, it’s also 20 families. Hopefully we can say, ‘Oh my god, they’re giving us chance’, and I hope that chance definitely comes.” Diana, owner of La Bodeguita, a restaurant and club, central to the Latin & local community in South London. With the restaurant being located within the shopping centre, it is one of many longstanding businesses that doesn’t know what will happen with the future demolition of the centre. Will they get a lease in the new centre? Will they be given somewhere temporary in between? When is last date for businesses to operate? So far none of these questions have been answered, with a rumoured closure of early 2018 or 2019.
“I’ve lived here for 47 years, I know a lot of people. Generally, I fit in quite well. The people that are moving in, are people that buy properties and don’t live in them. So, we’re gonna create a bit of a white Elephant, in terms of the shopping centre. Because if you haven’t got people spending money, what’s the point in having a shopping centre?” Alan operates out of one of several market stalls currently outside of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. He mainly sells records and vintage items. The closure of the pedestrian tunnels underneath Elephant and Castles deadly roundabout has affected his business - “People barely come by anymore. They used to stop by, have a chat; now it’s straight to Tesco’s for a meal deal and then back [to the office]”. (So far the above ground crossings haven’t proven to be any safer.) When asked if he’ll continue trading after the rebuilding of the centre, he said no. “I’ll sell my records on eBay.”
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“You can’t move people - I believe - off of an estate like the Heygate and say, ‘We’re gonna put up 3 times as many houses, and they’re gonna be of better quality, and it’s a better standard of living. And it’s not for you.’” Ian from Mamuśka, a Polish restaurant that originally opened in the Elephant and Castle Shopping centre, but moved out of the premises circa a year ago due to the future demolition of the centre. Details were, and seemingly still are, vague in regards to what will happen to the current commercial tenants. The restaurant now operates from across the centre, at the bottom of Draper House.

With all these new builds going up and the Heygate [estate] being knocked down, there's already a lot of griping about the heart of the area getting ripped out. The last thing it needed, is a pub that named the area; the pub that used to be across the road from the tube station; the area has been called the Elephant & Castle because the pub here for the last 250 years. So that shut, would be the end of such a huge chapter. /.../ I'd like to see as time progresses it become more of a destination. A lot of that is down to how they redevelop the shopping centre. If it's not done right, it could completely screw everything up. “It’s changed somewhat [the area], when I was young it was just mediocre. ‘Elephant & Castle, so what?’ It’s lost its history and then when I came back from America, from what I’ve seen, it has lost it even further... There is no way that Elephant & Castle will just be for the rich. There will be middle income, low income, still in Elephant & Castle. So we need to do something for everybody but do something that will appeal to everyone. People disagree and call it gentrification, I call it development.” John from Black Cowboy Coffee and Waffles. A unique coffee stall that stands out in the market which fills the open space around the 60s built shopping centre. Eventually the market place will be closed down when the centre is demolished, but John isn’t concerned. “I’m building something.” “I hope we don’t need to stop, because we don’t just have our own lives to carry on with - apart from that we have employees. Between the businesses we have around 20 employees, and I believe it’s not just myself that will be effected, it’s also 20 families. Hopefully we can say, ‘Oh my god, they’re giving us chance’, and I hope that chance definitely comes.” Diana, owner of La Bodeguita, a restaurant and club, central to the Latin & local community in South London. With the restaurant being located within the shopping centre, it is one of many longstanding businesses that doesn’t know what will happen with the future demolition of the centre. Will they get a lease in the new centre? Will they be given somewhere temporary in between? When is last date for businesses to operate? So far none of these questions have been answered, with a rumoured closure of early 2018 or 2019. “I’ve lived here for 47 years, I know a lot of people. Generally, I fit in quite well. The people that are moving in, are people that buy properties and don’t live in them. So, we’re gonna create a bit of a white Elephant, in terms of the shopping centre. Because if you haven’t got people spending money, what’s the point in having a shopping centre?” Alan operates out of one of several market stalls currently outside of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. He mainly sells records and vintage items. The closure of the pedestrian tunnels underneath Elephant and Castles deadly roundabout has affected his business - “People barely come by anymore. They used to stop by, have a chat; now it’s straight to Tesco’s for a meal deal and then back [to the office]”. (So far the above ground crossings haven’t proven to be any safer.) When asked if he’ll continue trading after the rebuilding of the centre, he said no. “I’ll sell my records on eBay.” test caption “You can’t move people - I believe - off of an estate like the Heygate and say, ‘We’re gonna put up 3 times as many houses, and they’re gonna be of better quality, and it’s a better standard of living. And it’s not for you.’” Ian from Mamuśka, a Polish restaurant that originally opened in the Elephant and Castle Shopping centre, but moved out of the premises circa a year ago due to the future demolition of the centre. Details were, and seemingly still are, vague in regards to what will happen to the current commercial tenants. The restaurant now operates from across the centre, at the bottom of Draper House.
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