The first yuppie development was the rejigging of the old DHSS building that looms above the Northern roundabout at the Elephant around 1999. Designed by Erno Goldfinger, this brutal concrete bohemoth is listed to preserve it for the Nation! At the end of the 90’s it was developed as Metro Central Heights, a gated community of first time buyers and more affluent types, the first wave of urban pioneers that came to live in ‘edgy, sexy, vibrant’ Elephant, as it was marketed at the time. You can download the crazy promotional brochure here. You’ll notice how much they go on about how secure it is. Metro Central Heights – 2 bedroom for £325,000 (Jan 2010).

Wikipedia says this:

‘…it was saved from demolition and converted into a residential development and renamed “Metro Central Heights” by St George Plc (a division of Berkeley Group Holdings) in 1997. It was narrowly missed off English Heritage’s roll of post-war buildings worthy of listing around the same time. The conversion cured the sick building syndrome, and added a gym and swimming pool to the complex. It now contains some 400 studio to three-bedroom flats which are in constant demand, especially by “young urban professionals” who value Elephant & Castle’s proximity to the City and West End. For this reason it is often nicknamed “Metrosexual Heights”.

VANTAGE Building, New Kent Rd

Vantage (next to Metro Central Heights), 68 flats of which 20 are Housing Association. Under construction. When the Vantage building was still being built, plenty of flats were put on the open market having been bought as investment buy-to-sells (at profit). A 2 bedroom on the 7th floor was up for £335,000. Another flat on the 4th floor was offered for £339,000 as an ‘opportunity for investment’. So a flat could be bought before it even existed to be sold at profit to a new buyer who would then sell again for another profit (and so on?). In the old days, houses were for living in. Will anyone ever live in these flats or will it just go round and round in some buy/sell cycle? Still, with the credit crunch on, will anyone be profiting from what must have seem like a shrewd investment at the time? All this hyped on the back of the forthcoming E+C regeneration makeover. Yet you can still read the following in another ad for a Vantage up for sale: ‘The property is located close to the Elephant and Castle which is the subject of an innovative regeneration scheme’. No wonder a lot of early new buyers to the area are now complaining about the whole thing. Fascinating insights on the E+C new property markets can be gained from reading posts to the ‘In Se1 Forum’ – See here for Vantage or here for Strata.