Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has pledged £15,000 to support Castle Place Project, a community-led initiative in Elephant & Castle that aims to transform two underused courtyard sites into an inspirational new neighbourhood hub.
The project is the vision of the local Lamlash Garden Team, which plans to bring former working yards just west of the peninsular back into use by creating a hub of new workspaces, studios and a community centre in a new green space. Check out their latest film here.
Prominent property developers across the area including Delancey and 151 have pledged towards this great initiative, alongside local charity United St. Saviours, St George’s Pharmacy based in SE1 and Global House Estates, an estate agent operating across the borough.
A further 100 backers have supported the fundraising campaign after the donation from the Mayor’s office as it seeks to hit its goal of £42,100 by September 25th. With nearly half the target still needing to be raised and pledges only being taken if the project hits the funding goal, the Lamlash Garden Team is encouraging all those involved in the local community, as well as businesses in the area, to pledge their support.
We spoke to Karen Chung and Gareth Morris, Directors of the Lamlash Garden team from the Castle Place Project…
We’re both local residents, I’m a journalist and Gareth is an architect. We met when I was starting Lamlash Garden – I’d pitched for a grant from the council to turn the street into a garden, saw Gareth’s work with his practice What If at the Southbank Centre, and contacted him to see if he’d be interested in getting involved. It so happened he’d just moved around the corner, so we worked on the Lamlash Garden project as neighbours!
We started the Castle Place Project; it’s a natural evolution of Lamlash Garden, a neighbourhood bid to bring two unloved sites in our area back into community use. They were working yards until the 1950s, and we want to create facilities we badly need – a community centre, workspaces and studios for artists, startups and small businesses, and a neighbourhood café with kitchen facilities.
We’re all neighbours – there’s the two of us, our local councillor Maria Linforth-Hall and neighbour Dada Nwafor, our treasurer, alongside a core of about between 5-50 volunteers. We all help to maintain the garden, mostly immediate neighbours, but other people from across Southwark, and occasionally further beyond!
For me, just the vibe of loads of people having a really good time at our first big community event once the garden was actually finished was so brilliant. It’s also really nice just having somewhere nice and green to walk through, and I love to see people enjoying the space – bringing their lunch, or sitting with friends in the sun, bringing their kids to one of our monthly sessions to garden for the first time…
At the moment we are focusing on the crowdfunding campaign – we’ve got until 25th September to raise £43,000 for the feasibility study, without this support the project will disappear. It has been a hugely busy summer filled with wonderful community events, talks, fundraising and meetings with local businesses to help our cause.
We’re hosting drinks in the garden for supporters, neighbours and local businesses on Thursday 14th September from 6pm. Following this we are also part of the big Sustainability Festival at Mercato Metropolitano 15th-17th September, where we’ll premiere our campaign film at their bonkers beach cinema on the Saturday – it should be a cracking weekend.
The Mayor of Southwark has been a great supporter of ours and is taking part in a pub night fundraiser on Tuesday 19th September. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to support and get involved, please take a look at our website for the latest news, views and events!
Karen & Gareth
What do you love about Elephant & Castle?
The people. It’s a lovely mix, friendly and welcoming and a bit off-key! We love the green spaces and the history. The fact that it’s of it are a bit… rubbish?! My kids always say it’s butters. There’s something quite charming about that. I don’t know. There’s a vibe about Elephant that’s unique. It’s a really special place.
If you want to support the Castle Place Project, please donate here.