SOUTHWARK 1970-2014


The 1970’s and 1980’s saw a lot of vigorous campaigning by local people organised both in local groups and in coalition projects such as the North Southwark Community Development Group. Not only were people active in challenging planning applications from major developers, they were also active on working together to understand, teach and agitate around plans that they thought would be detrimental to the lives of local people.

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Community Planning Centre of the North Southwark Community Development Group in 1977 at the old Fox and Hounds pub, 108 Great Guildford St / Click the text picture for short intro to the Community Development Group from Bob Colenutt’s essay ‘Community Action Over Local Planning Issues’ from the book ‘The Community Development Reader: History, Themes and Issues’ (2011) / Reports and Publications from NSCDG

Coin Street Popular Planning Remaking Planning Book 1996 <PDF of how Coin St Community Builders came to secure acres of Waterloo riverside land for housing co-ops. Chapter of ‘Remaking Planning’ book 1983

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Notice of declaration for Old Kent Rd and Tower Bridge to be Improvement areas under the 1978 Inner Urban Areas Act / Notice of report by Local Government Ombudsman re: ‘Maladministration’ of grant under Inner Areas Urban Act 1978 (LGO report from 1993 – we not been able to find it!)

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Campaigning Against the LDDC / Corbetts Wharf Occupation / Hays Wharf Opposition early 1980’s (Apologies for poor quality of some of these scans of photocopies of photocopies!) / Anti LDDC grafitti Cherry Gardens area approx 1985/6

LDDC Southwark MARCH 1983 Hansard <PDF of Parliament ‘debate’ over the handing over of Surrey Docks land owned by Southwark and GLC to LDDC
LDDC SOUTHWARK 1983 <PDF of LDDC Press Release 1983 flogging off Southwark Land
LDDC Leverage Planning Remaking Planning Book 1996 <PDF of Chapter of ‘Remaking Planning’ book 1983 on LDDC including Surrey Docks

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Criticism of the new Labour regime in Southwark, 1983 (from here)

Campaigning Against the LDDC Surrey Docks and Hays Wharf, Bermondsey 1980’s

LINK: Debate in Parliament on Hays Wharf Transcript  July 1987

Hays Wharf & Butlers Wharf 1980’s

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Cherry Gardens, Elephant Lane, Swan Rd in Bermondsey mid-80’s

Time Out March 1979

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Front cover of ‘The Wire’, Squatters Network of Walworth & Southwark fortnightly paper from Oct 1985 – ‘Circulation 1000’. There was a mass and well organised squatting movement in Southwark in the 80’s and early 90’s occupying empty council flats who had often been empty for six months or even years / ‘Homes For All’, paper of the TASCS – Tenants and Squatters Campaign of Southwark (Oct 1984). Numerous estates saw large squatting campaigns such as Rockingham, Pullens, Kinglake, Friary and so on.

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1988 North Peckham regeneration across 5 Estates. Tenants response to attempt by Government to impose a Housing Action Trust on the estates.

This video, commissioned by Southwark Council, looks at housing issues in the borough. With 62,000 properties, Southwark has the largest council housing stocks in the country, of which a large proportion is flats built prior to WWII. Residents, representatives of tenants associations, and officials are interviewed about the problems and the reasons for them.

1990 – 2000’s

By the time we get to the 1990’s, locally organised housing groups and community planning movements have more or less died out or become to seem like something from another age even though the issues, threats and problems development brings to the different local communities is no different from the older struggles around Bermondsey and The Borough.

The early struggle over the regeneration of The Elephant and Heygate Estate were particularly dynamic although these had waned by the time the second attempt at a large developing of The Elephant restarts around 2004. One of the few national campaigns Defend Council Housing has worked hard on stopping sell-offs and stock transfer of council homes. Squatter movements and squatter / tenant coalition ‘Homes For All’ campaigns, much bigger in the 1980’s, have also become marginal. IGA, the popular Intergalactic Arts community space on Morecombe St was evicted for new build homes despite a big campaign to save it. More recenty, the strong local group Friends of Nursery Row Park have been one of the few local amenity groups to stave off developments being built on their park and nearby Rodney Row local shops. A small campaign by Pullens Estate residents failed to prevent the Oakmayne development on top of the old Newington Industrial Estate on Crampton St. The Elephant Amenity Network has been going for about three years now and is a good solidly local coalition of tenants groups, residents, amentiy groups and local traders. It has been good at following and replying to all the different Council consultations on major planning strategies and other key documents. It held a local Visioning Event on June 4th 2011, over 150 local people formulated a different version of regeneration for the local area.


Heygate News 2004 promsing every decanted tenant a HA home in The Elephant / Council promises 16 new build sites of HA for Haygate Tenants.

Local organising on Heygate and Aylesbury 2000”s and the defeat of the Stock Transfer


IGA Walworth campaign and what IGA was replaced by/ Elephant Links / Nursery Row

Estate Agents letting seeking to buy council flats (Southwark Notes was getting about one a week in the period from 2000 – 2007) / The Guardian tips on buying a house in Walworth. Avoid the Estates, it says! / Duke of Clarence pub, SE17 one of many local pubs converted to ‘luxury’ flats

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Peckham Stuff:
Some useful material on the late 1990’s council estate ‘regeneration’ in Peckham in Luna Glucksberg – ‘Wasting the Inner-city: Waste, Value and Anthropology on the Estates’

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Elephant Amenity Network ongoing…

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Download Our Recent 2012 Map and Calendar Here!!
Southwark Notes in real life – our popular walking tours… ongoing!

Mapping Gentrification early 2000’s
Southwark Notes has been mapping the spread of the new developments and loss of local amenities and pubs in North Southwark since 1999. Our photos and notes and documents have now all been put into the 56a Gentrification Archive in 56a Infoshop (see above). Some of them have now been scanned and put up here.

Southwark Housing Tenure 1989 and 2001 – 2010: How many Council homes lost to Right-To-Buy and Sell-Offs? Average incomes by Housing Tenure – It’s still a very poor area!!

Next Steps on Developing Long Term Plans for the Delivery of New Council Homes
PDF of Next Steps on Developing Long Terms Plans for the Delivery of New Council Homes (July 2014). The devil could be in the details when it says:

‘The report says that the council must ‘identify as much potential land as possible for development opportunity’2. This requires ‘a detailed and comprehensive appraisal be undertaken of the performance of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) assets’3 (ie council homes), leading to ‘an assessment of their worth to the housing business’4.

An ‘Asset Performance Evaluation Tool’, which includes ‘a measure of social return based on feedback from engagement with residents’6, will ‘enable’ the council to reach its decisions.

Finally Southwark will make ‘a correlation of these results with open market values and development potential across the stock will identify candidate groups of assets where more detailed options appraisal could result in either opportunities for additional homes or improvements in values to the overall HRA business plan, increasing the surpluses that may be available to subsidise new developments.’7″

When we hear the words ‘asset management’ we suspect that this means council home sell-offs and more ‘regeneration’ schemes for long term local estates. This document could do with some close reading in preparation for some serious hard questions for Southwark. The Council is great at big public relations exercises around this new ‘11,000 council homes’ but evasive on the detail. Does the detail reveal that the new homes will be built as part of further regeneration schemes that at once demolish existing estates and result in few council homes at the end (like the schemes at Heygate, Aylesbury, Elmington etc)?

Brilliant Southwark Statistics from Shelter DataBank
on Public Housing, Right To Buy, Private Housing and So on here!

Heygate Lend Lease Equalities Impact Assessment:


Up The Elephant Campaign Press Release 10th March 2020:

UP THE ELEPHANT Press_release_10_03_20 EDIT

Up The Elephant Market Relocation Plans – September 2020

Elephant & Castle Relocation Proposal