The strange and lonely death of London’s Heygate Estate (words+pictures)

The estate is less than 40 years old – it opened in 1974. It’s early days are described with some nostalgia, but realistically in this 2001 article from the Observer.

In 2004, Southwark Council chose to embark on a multi-billion pound regeneration for the entire Elephant & Castle area, which was to include demolishing both the Heygate and Aylesbury estates. The residents were promised rehousing by the Council. But by the time they had moved a large number of residents out, and boarded up their properties, leaving the place feeling like an abandoned ocean liner, the credit crunch hit. This delayed the demolition. In late March 2010, Southwark Council said that the new regeneration agreement was ‘nearly ready’.

Since 2007, the excellent Heygate Live blog has provided regular updates on the affairs of the 1260-unit estate.

In the last sun of an April evening, the estate was eerily quiet. Though completely empty, most entrances and walkways were still open, and a pile of fresh human faeces lay in front of a lift chamber. Empty walkways, empty corridors that must have buzzed at one time, not so long ago – now still. I saw a few people cutting through the estate, and one woman ran past me on the corridor/balcony, but walking around the site, just one single flat appeared to be still occupied.

More photos here and here (mini photo essay). And Clint Eastwood.


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