Urban regeneration in Elephant & Castle

‘The Meadow’ is a triumph of ambitious vision meeting urban design.


It’s not every day you see an elephant in a London park, but take a trip to ‘The Meadow’ and that is exactly what you will find!

Picture courtesy of Jack Hobhouse / Mike Massaro

Our blog this month focuses on a wonderful London-based project that features a bespoke blend mix of Wildflower Turf® that we designed specifically for this urban design masterpiece.

But let us start at the beginning…

Southwark Council, in conjunction with Lendlease, has embarked on an ambitious project to regenerate 28 acres of land in the centre of the London borough of Elephant and Castle.

The £2.3 billion programme will deliver almost 2,500 new homes, retail and restaurants spaces, new open spaces and improved ‘green’ streets. A brand-new, temporary park, The Meadow, takes centre stage at the heart of the development.

Landscape architects and environmental planners, Gillespies, are the public realm master planner for the entire Elephant Park site, with the programme commencing in 2017.

The overall landscape masterplan aims to establish Elephant Park as one of London’s greenest places to live, with more than a hundred mature trees retained and nearly 300 new trees will be planted over the life of the project.

Wildflower Turf Ltd worked with award-winning landscape architects BD Landscape Architects in the creation of The Meadow design, with this new area of tranquil green space also acting as a key pedestrian and cycle link connecting Elephant & Castle station to the new, mixed use development on the other side of the park. Gavin Jones was responsible for the installation of the Wildflower Turf®.

Pictures courtesy of Jack Hobhouse / Mike Massaro

Formally an empty plot earmarked for development, the vision behind The Meadow was to provide a playful landscape combined with a green oasis which would also be a shared sanctuary for people and pollinators within a dense urban environment.

Designed to capture the imagination, regardless of age, the space has been brought to life through sculpture, natural play areas and places to rest, with a life-size elephant signifying a place to stop and wonder.

Pictures courtesy of Jack Hobhouse / Mike Massaro

Site-felled timber and surplus soil have been creatively re-used for natural play trails and tilted landforms. At night, the space is transformed by glowing light installations (created by lighting supremo, Michael Grubb Studio) that mark the entrance to the park.

Pictures courtesy of Jack Hobhouse / Mike Massaro

Ribbons of wildflower meadow run through the park, with perennials a key requirement of the bespoke mix requested of us by BD Landscape Architects. As well as supporting urban pollinator populations by providing a crucial habitat and foraging opportunities, the incorporation of habitat-rich wildflowers within the scheme also signifies the overriding ecological ambitions of the project.

Picture courtesy of Jack Hobhouse / Mike Massaro

Pleasingly, the wider Elephant Park project is one of only 18 global projects in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) programme that is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the world’s megacities. The Meadow was also shortlisted as a finalist in the 2020 Landscape Institute awards for ‘Excellence in Place Regeneration’.

Learn more about the Elephant Park masterplan here.

If you have a project that you would like to discuss, drop us a line at [email protected] or give one of our knowledgeable team a call on 01256 771222.