The long-running regeneration of Elephant and Castle has been a source of local acrimony for more than a decade. This week, the starkly differing fates of three of its best-loved cultural venues have raised new questions about Southwark council and developer Delancey’s approach to local residents and businesses.
On Thursday, Sadiq Khan gave his seal of approval to the latest stage in the lavish redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, a diverse working-class neighbourhood in south London: the demolition and rebuilding of its central shopping centre. A squat and increasingly dilapidated mid-70s concrete megalith, the Elephant Centre is nonetheless a crucial hub for the area’s under-served minority groups, with everything from Polish cafés and a busy open-air market to African fabric shops and Colombian nightclubs.
It’s the last of those spaces which has prompted specific concern this week, after local business group Latin Elephant highlighted the worrying outlook for two popular restaurants and music venues catering to Elephant’s Latin American community. Following the mayor’s sign-off, it now seems certain that La Bodeguita and Distriandina, situated in the railway arches underneath Elephant & Castle train station, will be forced out of their current sites to make way for new shopping space and a pedestrian access route respectively.