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Future Cities Forum's shortlist in the place-making category for its Summer Awards 2024

Above: part of Elephant Park's public realm (CGI courtesy Gillespie)

Future Cities Forum is delighted to announce the shortlisted projects in the 'place-making' category for its Summer Awards 2024. They are: Elephant Park in South London, Holborn as a liveable district and Sheffield's redevelopment of Castle Market.

Elephant Park, Southwark - transformation project in the heart of Elephant & Castle

According to Gillespies, the new masterplan (for developer Lendlease working in partnership with Southwark Council) 'will restore and transform Elephant & Castle into one of London’s most flourishing urban quarters, delivering around 3,000 new homes over the next 15 years. Gillespies is the public realm masterplanner for the regeneration of the overall site and the public realm and landscape designer for several individual phases of Elephant Park and its new central park.

'At the heart of the masterplan is a brand new community park that will help restore nature in the heart of the city, alongside a myriad of green spaces, playable spaces, new squares and the establishment of 10 new routes through the development, creating a safer and more open environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

'The new green spaces and an extensive tree planting strategy will play a crucial part in mitigating climate change and creating a healthy environment.'

According to Lendlease, Elephant Park has set itself the high ambition of being among the most sustainable inner-city urban regeneration projects in the world, in line with its company-wide mission to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and ABSOLUTE zero by 2040. With this vision in mind, the developer says it can truly deliver above and beyond what is expected and make a real difference for the project and the area, and to ensure that it becomes part of London’s already rich tapestry of green spaces and streets.

Lendlease adds:

'Ultimately, this place should nurture and contribute to the natural systems that will sustain us all, not deplete them – this is the only way we can really guarantee positive longevity and legacy for the project. The park and the landscaping have been specifically designed to enhance biodiversity in the area, but our biggest commitment, made from the outset, is for Elephant Park to be net-zero carbon in operation by the time the project completes.'

Project Scheme

Residential led mixed use regeneration scheme comprising:

  • 44,700 sqm office (subject to planning)

  • 3,208 apartments (c.28% for rent)

  • 13,400 sqm retail



Above: Visualisation of new Holborn public realm by LDA Design

Holborn as a liveable city district

Camden Council, in partnership with LDA Design, Norman Rourke Pryme and Urban Symbiotics, is looking to transform Holborn into a place that works better for people and nature. LDA Design has been describing the opportunities for the project:

'The £40m Holborn Liveable Neighbourhood scheme aims to create a place which is more comfortable and safer for pedestrians and cyclists, with less pollution and more attractive and greener streets and spaces.

'Situated between the West End and the City, Holborn is a place of contrasts, of heritage and highways. Stretching from Bloomsbury Street and Drury Lane in the west to Gray’s Inn Road and Chancery Lane in the east, Holborn is home to national institutions including the British Museum, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the Inns of Court. In parts, however, it is heavily trafficked, with junctions which are sometimes dangerous for workers, visitors and residents.

'Camden Council is engaging the public on ideas for changes to key streets and places, including New Oxford Street, Great Queen Street, Red Lion Street, Great Ormond Street, Great Russell Street which is home of the British Museum, Bedford Place and Kingsway.'

Sophie Thompson, a director at LDA Design and public realm lead, commented: “The ambition is to transform the streets and public realm of Holborn to create a truly liveable neighbourhood – one which supports healthier lifestyles, more active and sustainable travel, thriving communities and sustainable growth.”

New Oxford Street links High Holborn to the east and Oxford Street to the west. It is currently a wide, bland street, a place to hurry through. Ideas being explored include closing an easterly part of the street to traffic to create a new type of green sanctuary, with safe pedestrian and cycle connections. There could be a plaza, a sequence of biodiverse gardens, signature trees, play on the way, long table dining and comfortable seating. A new kiosk could provide a sculptural centrepiece and activate the space.

Other ideas include turning Great Russell Street into a green boulevard by closing it to through traffic. This could create a new entrance square for people visiting the British Museum and provide a more fitting setting for one of the world’s best known cultural destinations.

Some squares in the area are recognised to be in need of a refresh. Ideas for Red Lion Square, off Theobald’s Road, include improving connections along current desire lines, plus water play, raised lawns, ‘outdoor room’ night-time lighting and new planting.

LDA Design has also been working with partners including Central District Alliance, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Great Queen Street Properties and the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Bedford Estates. One proposal is to turn Great Ormond Street into London’s healthiest hospital street. Currently the street is often blocked with traffic yet many of the hospital’s patients are children with acute respiratory problems. The ambition is to create a greener and more playful environment that better supports patients, their families and hospital staff, as well as local residents.

Further improvements could be made to the junction at High Holborn, Southampton Row and Kingsway, including transforming the experience outside Holborn tube station which can feel hectic and stressful, by removing clutter, improving wayfinding, and enlarging pavement space by relocating the existing kiosks. Other moves being explored include changing the stretch between Southampton Row and Procter Street to two-way traffic, adding cycle lanes separated from traffic on both sides of the road up to Gray’s Inn Road.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden, points out the Holborn Liveable Neighbourhood scheme would yield benefits beyond the area. “It connects the major public realm transformations which have been delivered under the West End Project to the west, Gray’s Inn Road to the east, and Strand and Aldwych to the south. It also ties into wider public realm improvements being delivered in Westminster, Islington and the City.”

For more on Holborn Liveable Neighbourhood, head here.

Above: Exciting plans to transform one of the most historic parts of Sheffield city centre has moved a step closer with the appointment of the lead contractor (courtesy Sheffield City Council / Keltbray)

Sheffield's Castle Market

Keltbray is one of the UK’s leading specialist engineering and early-stage construction providers and will deliver the project regenerating the former Castle Market site into an exciting public space complete with revealing part of Sheffield’s medieval Castle, a new events area, the opening up of the River Sheaf and new public art that will interpret the history of the site.

The plans will also shine new light on the Castle itself. Dating back to the 12th century it is the birthplace of Sheffield, with the new public space showcasing aspects of the castle for the first time in centuries. Remains including the Gatehouse will be revealed and put on display for the public to appreciate and admire.

Other nods to the history of the castle area will include an events space, reminiscent of the ‘bowling green’ believed to have occupied the site in the 17th century. The events square will be able to host up to 500 people at a range of events. Planting will also have echoes of the Castle’s past with tree species known to have been around at the time being used.

The river Sheaf will be opened and visible for the first time in the city centre since the Victorian times.

Innovative public art will also be used to interpret the heritage and celebrate the history of the area from the original castle, through the industrial revolution to the Castle Market.

Councillor Ben Miskell, Chair of the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Change Policy Committee, said:

“Seeing this amazing project move closer to becoming a reality is incredibly exciting and will mean that we will be able to see the remains of the castle which kick started Sheffield.

“The appointment of Keltbray as our contractor is a vital step in bringing this project to life and I cannot wait to see the transformation happen over the coming months. Its yet another sign that Sheffield city centre is on the up.

“Once complete it will be an incredible public space bringing together the history of our city along with modern public spaces for the people of Sheffield and beyond to enjoy.”

Transformation of the site, once home to centuries of market trading, is expected to begin in the opening weeks of 2024 after plans were approved by the City Council back in May 2023 with completion due by the summer of 2025.


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