Bulldozers trample south London's Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre

End of an iconic EYESORE: Bulldozers trample south London’s Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre… to pave way for £1bn development of 1,000 flats and station (but famous bronze statue WILL be back)

  •  Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in Southwark was pegged to become a commercial hub for south London
  •  But, the 55-year-old London shopping arcade swiftly became redundant – before later falling into disrepair
  • Now, developer Keltbray is set to demolish 2.5 acre site entirely, and replace it with a £1billion development
  • Includes nearly 1,000 new flats, a new tube station for the Northern Line, and two new university buildings

An iconic south London shopping centre built in 1965 on a bomb-damaged 1890s estate is being torn down to pave the way for a £1billion town centre regeneration.

It was initially hoped that the three-storey Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre in Southwark would become a commercial hub for south London, with its 115 shops taken on mostly by local traders.

But, as the capital boomed and swanky indoor shopping malls sprung up city-wide, the 55-year-old shopping arcade swiftly became redundant – before later falling into disrepair.

Now, developer Keltbray is set to demolish the 2.5 acre site entirely, and replace it with a £1billion development, including nearly 1,000 new flats – 116 of which are social rental homes, a new tube station for the Northern Line, and two new university buildings.

One of the site’s best-known features an elephant with a castle on its back – was taken away to be restored, but is set to be put back once construction begins.

When the development is complete, the statue will take pride and place in the new town centre – along with old signage and relics from the shopping centre. 


An iconic south London shopping centre built in 1965 (pictured right) on a bomb-damaged 1890s estate is being torn down to pave the way for a £1billion town centre regeneration. Pictured left, today


The brutish building was first erected in 1965 (right) and not much about its appearance has changed until now – when it is demolished

Diggers demolish the side of the shopping centre to make way for an incoming redevelopment project of flats

Mangled wiring sprouts from the building’s wreckage in Elephant and Castle, south London, where builders work today 

Now, developer Keltbray is set to demolish the 2.5 acre site entirely, and replace it with a £1billion development (an artist’s impression of the site, pictured), including nearly 1,000 new flats – 116 of which are social rental homes, a new tube station for the Northern Line, and two new university buildings


One of the site’s best-known features an elephant with a castle on its back (pictured in the 1960s, left, and in 2018, right) – was taken away to be restored, but is set to be put back once construction begins

When the development is complete, the statue (pictured in 2012)will take pride and place in the new town centre – along with old signage and relics from the shopping centre

Campaigners have blasted the lack of affordable homes, inexpensive retail space and council housing in the new plans. 

In November, a judge granted permission to appeal Southwark Council’s decision to grant Keltbray planning permission to tear it down. 

Pictures taken at the site show walls pulled down as the demolition begins, with the area blocked off to the public. 

The shopping centre was opened in 1965. The building was constructed on the sight of the Elephant and Castle Estate, built in 1898, which was later damaged by bombs in the Second World War.

The £21million shopping centre was designed to bring Londoners away from the busy roundabout below to carry out their shopping. 

Ray Gunter, then-minster of labour, unveiled the iconic statue of an elephant carrying a castle on its back which was taken from a since-demolished pub.

Once an eyesore… pictures lay bare the demolition work being done on the Elephant and Castle shopping centre

But, as the capital boomed and swanky indoor shopping malls sprung up city-wide, the 55-year-old shopping arcade (pictured now) swiftly became redundant – before later falling into disrepair

Campaigners have blasted the new plans. Pictured: Shoppers browsing wares in the centre last year

In November, a judge granted permission to appeal Southwark Council’s decision to grant Keltbray planning permission to tear it down. Pictured: A shop inside the centre

The shopping centre was opened in 1965 (a shopper in 1979). The building was constructed on the sight of the Elephant and Castle Estate, built in 1898, which was later damaged by bombs in the Second World War

The £21million shopping centre (pictured in 1965) was designed to bring Londoners away from the busy roundabout below to carry out their shopping

Ray Gunter, then-minster of labour, unveiled the iconic statue of an elephant carrying a castle on its back which was taken from a since-demolished pub. Pictured: Inside the centre when it opened

The new plans – which were granted planning permission in 2019 – aim to keep noise and disruption to a minimum throughout construction. Pictured: The centre in 2017

Pictures taken at the site show walls pulled down as the demolition begins, with the area blocked off to the public (pictured)

Workmen put up fencing around Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in London on September 24, 2020

A worker cleans the original Elephant and Castle statue, which formerly stood on the public house of the same name, in 1965

The shopping centre aimed to get Londoners away from the busy road below while carrying out their shopping 

The shopping centre (pictured) was opened in 1965. Developers hoped it would become a hub for London shoppers

Reza, who has been working at Magic Carpet for 18 years, stands inside his shop at Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre last year

Paul Boissevain, architect for the Willett group of Companies with a model of the Group’s plan for the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in 1960

The demolition process is set to end in the summer of 2021, with construction beginning that year. Pictured: A shop inside the centre

Shoppers are seen wandering around the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in 1966. Its 115 shops were taken on mostly by local traders

Campaigners (some pictured) have blasted the lack of affordable homes, inexpensive retail space and council housing in the new plans

The new plans – which were granted planning permission in 2019 – aim to keep noise and disruption to a minimum throughout construction.

The demolition process is set to end in the summer of 2021, with construction beginning that year. 

The new Northern line station to be built on the demolished zone is ‘future-proofed for the Bakerloo line extension with significantly enhanced capacity’, local media reports.

Two new structures, one for the University of the Arts London and another for London College of Communication, will be also be built.

Keltbray say the project will bring substantial employment opportunities to the area.

Skills and communities director Holly Price said: ‘As part of our commitment to the community, we will be offering employment opportunities to people living in the local area. 

‘During the demolition phase we have explored ways to provide new roles to local people and are pleased to offer vacancies including demolition labourers, welfare officers, traffic marshals and site administrators.

‘We have also secured funding to deliver training – making it an excellent opportunity for those who are looking for a role within the local area.’

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