Hannah Simmonds Smith

The Latino community and ethnic minorities in the neighbourhood of Elephant and castle, called by the mayor of Southwark ‘The Latin Quarter’ I wanted to express my humble opinion being a young Latin American Woman about the proposed demolition of the shopping center of Elephant and castle. As a Latin American Woman, I’m backing the Elephant and Castle retain and its Latin character as well as its working-class roots. For me and many of my relatives, this area is much more than buildings and shops. It’s a place where we have our heart, where we find our identity in a completely different country, culture, and language. The issue I would like to raise is that this mall has more than 130 traders who have run their business for more than 20 years. They will be forced to move from one place to another and start from nothing. Of the 130 merchants, they only intend to relocate 35 of them. Of those 35, they have only been offered much smaller cubicles than the current spaces in the mall. Many of the merchants have given little choice but to accept this and many of them simply will not be relocated and given no financial support. Property developers Delancey wants to transform the Elephant and Castle area into a whole new “town center”. Their plans are being fiercely resisted by local traders, who say it would destroy one of the most multicultural working-class communities in London. I think it is very important to preserve this feeling and offer that to our future Generations, unfortunately, the majority of Latin traders with which I had the chance to speak are losing hope of keeping Elephant and Castle as the Latin neighborhood without the most important point “The shopping center “, and they are afraid it’s a case of ‘enjoy while it lasts’.

From 2004-2009, while I was in secondary school, I went through Elephant and Castle shopping centre nearly every single day. On many different occasions me and my friends would lose hours there either chatting away gathered around a bench, competing against each other at the bowling alley or using up our lunch money for the week in one of the restaurants. When I was even younger, whenever my parents would take me on adventures beyond south London, we’d have to go through Elephant. I would always excitedly look out for the elephant statue and marvel at the colours of the shopping centre, as I remember it’s been blue, pink and red in the time I’ve known it. I will always remember the centre fondly, it was a huge part of my childhood.