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Creating a More Sustainable Elephant

Sustainable Development?

We don’t believe that full-scale demolition of the Heygate estate is the most sustainable option for the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle. An enormous amount of energy went into building the homes on this site, and even more energy will be required to demolish and replace it.

Parking Loss of trees Embodied Energy

Green roofs. Community food growing. Wind Turbines.

The carbon debt incurred by the original demolition and rebuild of the Heygate area 35 years ago, will remain in the atmosphere for a further 65 years. The huge carbon debt proposed for yet another comprehensive demolition and rebuild will remain in the atmosphere for another 100 years. This seriously compromises both the Government’s CO2 reduction targets and Bill Clinton’s praise for the scheme as ‘carbon positive sustainable growth’.

The current masterplan claims to be undertaking the entire regeneration with a zero increase in carbon emissions. However, what it fails to point out is that its calculations are based purely on ‘operative’ carbon emission forecasts. What it fails to include are the ‘embedded’ carbon emissions, i.e. all the carbon emissions resulting not just from the construction of the new buildings, but also those from the original construction of the Heygate estate and its demolition.

We believe that the full-scale demolition of the Heygate estate is not the most environmentally sustainable option, and this is backed by extensive research confirming that the refurbishment of buildings is less damaging to the environment than demolition and rebuild:

*“New Tricks With Old Bricks: How reusing old buildings can cut carbon emissions - EHA

*“Housing & Sustainability: Demolition or Refurbishment? - Anne Power”

*“The Sustainable Refurbishment of High-rise Housing” - John Rushton

*“Energy Policy : Embodied Energy” - Anne Power

*“The contribution of ecological footprinting to planning policy development - Yvonne Rydin”

*“London Sustainable Development Commission (2009): Capital Consumption - the transition to sustainable consumption and production in London”

Recent research into energy life cycle analysis(ELCA) suggests that embodied energy may be as high as 50% of a building’s lifetime energy use.

The Elephant & Castle’s forest of mature trees situated within the Heygate estate development envelope is a high priority for local residents. We recognise the value of retaining this vast expanse of trees and green space, and are exploring alternative development principles which involve retention of the forest.

Proposals will explore the creation of a strategic network of green links between the E&C urban forest and Victory Park - Salisbury Row Park - Nursery Row Park - Surrey Square Park and Burgess Park to the South. Green links will also be forged connecting the whole network to Bankside Urban Forest in the North of the Borough. This will create a green-link network which stretches all the way from Burgess Park to the South Bank, providing a much needed cycle and pedestrian route all the way from Peckham to the river.

We are exploring proposals in conjunction with the recommendations made in the 1998 council-commissioned appraisal study. The survey found that the maisonette buildings were in structurally good condition and made recommendations for their retention along with the surrounding green spaces. “It is not only the most cost effective option, but also greatly improves the site environmentally, architecturally and socially.” - (Section 3.2.2)

There have already been a number of imaginative alternative proposals for refurbishing the estate, and altering buildings for alternative use (ie. converting garages to artist studios/workshops etc.). Similar schemes in other locations - like the Park Hill estate in Sheffield have proven to be a resounding success.