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Skipton House Redevelopment - Elephant & Castle

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Thursday 1 October 2015 10.32am
I'm fascinated in the news article about the plans to redevelop Skipton House that Southwark Council seem so relaxed about losing the single biggest employer in Elephant Castle with 1000+ people in the building, maybe more. [declaration of interest: I work there!]

It's also fascinating that the current occupants of Skipton House had no ideas about this plans. At Monday's quarterly staff briefing for the NHS England headquarters staff, I asked the Chief Executive Simon Stevens what the plans were, given the intention to redevelop Skipton House.

He clearly had no idea of these proposals at all and said NHS England was currently planning to refurbish parts of the building to put more staff in here - possibly moving some jobs down from the Leeds office. So obviously completely in the dark!

The odd thing about this is that Southwark Planners used to be very insistent about keeping business uses in the Borough - that's why we had the empty office space at the bottom of Empire Square etc (finally occupied by Guy's hospital after 10 years vacant!).
How losing the senior executive and policy jobs from NHS England, Public Health England, Health & Social Care Information Centre and the Department of Health but gaining jobs for waiting and kitchen staff for the new restaurants on the site will help the Council's aim around employment, I'm not sure.

There's currently an (unsourced) rumour on the Wikipedia page for Skipton House that everybody in the building being moved out to Putney!

While I wouldn't want to see the Elephant stay stuck as it is, I'm not sure that a monoculture of high end flats and upmarket 'leisure' is necessarily the best for the area.
Thursday 1 October 2015 11.45am
"Next week owners London & Regional will hold a three-day public exhibition of their plans to redevelop the site with twice the current volume of office space as well as around 450 homes."
Thursday 1 October 2015 11.58am
Aside from the loss of a huge employer and all that it brings to the area, exactly how many of these towers are going to be built at the Elephant? I imagine the very dated London College of Communication building will be next. Is Perronet house safe?
Not sure amenities will follow. Are we supposed to get a decent sized supermarket?
Thursday 1 October 2015 12.06pm
There was a parliamentary question about Skipton House just before the summer recess

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Thursday 1 October 2015 3.03pm
Is the old red building with the tube station safe? Then again, as there is nothing else left of the old Elephant after they demolish The Coronet maybe it's futile to save even that :( Oh and the facade of the Tabernacle of course.

Are we to assume that building are now built to last only for 20 years if something from the 90's is already being replaced?
Thursday 1 October 2015 3.14pm
Fair enough, sjac, but it does make you wonder how tall the new building is going to be - nearer the 28 storeys of the 1970s plan for the site - or more even!

It will probably cut the post-war link between the NHS and Elephant & Castle - the Department of Health moved in to Alexander Fleming House (now Metro Central Heights) before moving to Skipton House (with parts in Hannibal House and Eileen House as well). NHS England, Department of Health etc will want to move away - as they wouldn't want to have the fuss of moving out to a temporary home just to move back to the Elephant afterwards.

interesting times....
Friday 2 October 2015 7.10pm
Here's a bit of fact sharing... (I haven't the energy this evening to share thoughts on the details of the proposals revealed and leaked so far).

SOM, architects of 7 of the world's 15 tallest buildings, definitely propose a giant for Elephant and Castle, While no artist's impression has officially been published I found an accidental technological leak of one. Paste the link to as a Facebook post and scroll through the options of the images to display with your post. You'll see a pigeon's view from high above the Faraday Memorial of the new development. On iPads you get the full height, the largest of the twin towers looks taller than Metro Central Heights, possibly taller than Strata. On a conventional laptop Facebook crops the image which I screen grabbed here:

I first heard Skipton House might go at a one to one TfL consultation in December 2014. Their architects shared a map that showed it gone, the station retained as an historic 'memorial', and Skipton Street reinstated. The reconfiguration of public space helped justify the severe squeeze on pedestrians outside the Bakerloo exit currently under construction. More recently in early September the architect told me on the record that plans were underway, but the time table was unclear. Delancey's visit to our TRA meeting on 21 September showed a map with Skipton House as a blank space awaiting announcement, suggesting news was imminent. Then this Wednesday I got a personal letter (in my capacity as a director of Mobile Gardeners CIC) inviting me to the public consultation (8-10 Oct) and a standard flyer today to the same address. It appears that neither sitting tenants of the Department of Health nor officers in an adjacent Tenants and Residents Associations are on their mailing list, but a volunteer director of a local community interest companies is (this seems a wonky priority). That only goes to show how tokenistic the consultation is and how definite the Department of Heath's departure seems. None of the literature I've received gives any additional details to the developer website, the image is just of the roof's green garnish:

The developers will attend our TRA committee meeting on 13 October. They declined an invite for our general meeting on 24 November because: "Unfortunately I think the 24th November would be too late in the day with regards to our planning process. We will probably be preparing our application at that point, following our series of consultation events. We’re aiming to submit the application by the end of 2015." Consultation, as almost always, is just a pre-launch marketing activity and box ticking exercise for the planning application (a PR agency is running it).

@connie - London College Communication tower and the surrounding campus is due to be demolished in around 2021/2 if Delancey's plans proceed and replaced with a bigger tower and large 'mansion' blocks down Oswin Street. See more details here at a presentation they gave at our TRA meeting on 21 September:

At the same meeting at which I first learnt of Skipton House a portion of Perronet House was also included in the demolition plans being encouraged by TfL's masterplanning architect. It was the two storey portion at the front of the block that accommodates disabled council tenants and their gardens, basement storage and a soon to be developed pharmacy which has twice received planning approval in recent years. Inevitably this prompted a bit of a furore and I've had a robust confirmation from Southwark Council's Dan Taylor (Senior Regeneration Officer) that this plan is not on the table. Given The Guardian just included award winning Perronet House in a profile of London's best social housing, I hope Labour Southwark Council are not so cranky as to decide to boot anyone out and flog it.
Saturday 3 October 2015 3.14pm
Here's that picture from Perronetonian in full

post images
Sunday 4 October 2015 9.27pm
Just come across this intriguing bit of 'what if' about the architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill's previous unbuilt involvement in the Elephant and Castle.

I've posted a couple of images here
and here

They were part of a team of since more noteworthy architects, including Boris' famous designer, who lost out in the race to take on big redevelopment prizes.

A bit more history here. Funny how some of the names reappear in different rolesyears later....
Thursday 8 October 2015 10.00am
Official full height image of new Skipton House revealed today in the trade press:…/5077976.article
And further details about large entertainment space
Marketing event begins at noon today in Keyworth House
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