“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the process of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet neglected of our human rights.” – David Harvey ‘The Right to the City’
Built in 1974 the Heygate Estate in Walworth is a vision of early 70s Soviet-style brutalism. One of the most high-profile estates due to its notoriety and usage as a filming location – Clockwork Orange, The Bill and recently that bad movie with Clint Eastwood and Michael Caine. It is soon to be demolished as part of the Elephant & Castle regeneration project. Residents began moving out in 2008 and 99% of them have now been re-housed by Southwark Council mostly far away. There are eight residents left including an elderly couple whom had their electricity cut off this winter in an attempt to push them out.
This is demolition not regeneration as spun by the PR machines of Southwark Council; The Heygate housed 1200 families who have effectively been priced out of living in Elephant and Castle and are not likely to return with only 300 social rented units to be built on the original footprint. Although most residents will admit that the estate became increasingly difficult to live in as it was perceived as a ‘dumping ground for difficult’ families in 1999 55% of residents were ‘satisfied’ with the estate and 70% wanted to carry on living there.
Our encounter with a security guard:
Feeble attempt to reach the roof: