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Demolition begins on Heygate Estate

Published Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Heygate Estate

This week, work has begun to completely demolish the first 98 units on the Rodney Road Phase of the Heygate Estate, the first of the 1,212 to see the demolition teams move in.

The huge 1970s concrete estate was once home to more than 3,000 people; more recently it was the backdrop for the Michael Caine film, Harry Brown. People began moving to new homes in 2008 and now only 11 dwellings are still occupied across the whole estate.

The agreement made with Lend Lease in July 2010 kick-started more detailed work to continue the regeneration of the area. Lend Lease is working on a masterplan for the site which will lead to a planning application being submitted in spring 2012, which will pave the way for a building programme which will deliver the vision of a brand new town centre and thriving urban quarter in the heart of central London over the next 15 years.

We have appointed an experienced contractor, Cantillon Ltd, to undertake the demolition of the first part of the estate. The buildings will be carefully and meticulously taken apart using a combination of demolition and deconstruction to take down the buildings in the reverse of how they were built four decades ago.

Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration said, "It's hard to describe what a monumentally huge project the Heygate Estate regeneration is. What comes next is what so many people in the borough are anticipating - the emergence of brand new, warm, safe homes for all."

Rob Deck, Lend Lease Project Director for Elephant and Castle, said: "This is one of the most significant regeneration projects in Europe and Lend Lease will be working in partnership with Southwark Council to transform this area of London into a vibrant place for people from all backgrounds to live, work and recreate. The demolition of the Heygate Estate is a major milestone in the scheme to rejuvenate Elephant and Castle."

The Heygate estate was designed in the 1960s by Tim Tinker and completed in the early 1970s. The dream was of a brave new world with communal living providing a social hub for those who were first to benefit from the post-war welfare state. The aim was to support people while they looked for work, and the estate was futuristic in its design, with galleys and walkways. The estate is one of the largest in the country and was originally home to around 3,000 residents.

Much has been learned since the designs of the 1960s. Stairwells and galleys in fact turned to dark spaces which encouraged crime and antisocial behaviour. As time has passed, the estate has become increasingly expensive to maintain and heat and is no longer an ideal place for people to live compared with standards that are expected today.

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