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Wednesday23 August 2017

Elephant & Castle regeneration boss quits

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Council’s design credentials in doubt

Southwark Council has issued a robust defence of its design credentials after the shock resignation of the development director behind its £1.5 billion Elephant & Castle scheme.


Chris Horn

Championed architectural quality on the Elephant & Castle scheme

Chris Horn, who left last week, was seen as a driving force behind the project’s focus on quality architecture and young practices, but is understood to have clashed with the council’s new strategic director for major projects, Stephen McDonald, following the appointment of a development team led by Lend Lease (News July 27).

News of Horn’s departure prompted observers to question whether Southwark’s reputation would survive intact, particularly given the departure in May of urban design leader Julie Greer.

But Lend Lease joined the council in insisting the project would go forward as planned, and revealed Make Architects has been reappointed as masterplanner.

Another source close to the project who did not wish to be named said that Horn’s departure also related to a more risk-averse approach by the council spearheaded by chief executive Annie Shepperd.

But Shepperd denied the council’s new approach was risk-averse, adding that it would continue to safeguard design standards.

“We are taking a mutual partnership approach,” she said. “This is not hands-off, but ‘do what we say’ has not worked. It does not mean we are taking our eye off the ball in terms of design standards.”

Fred Manson, former director of regeneration at Southwark, said: “It’s a great pity that Chris Horn has left as he really was the person that made the Elephant & Castle work. He was exceptional.

“The challenge for Southwark is whether it can find equally competent people. Chris was as savvy and alert as the people across the table. Too often, developers get to do what they want.”

Council leader Nick Stanton added: “Chris Horn’s vision and drive were, in large measure, responsible for making Elephant & Castle one of the most visibly successful large-scale regeneration projects in London.

“We have a dedicated and talented team which is focused on successful delivery.”

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