Welcome to the Elephant and Castle Urban Forest. Yes it’s true, there really is one!
Elephant and Castle Urban Forest is London’s secret woodland. At its heart are 450 majestic trees, mostly London Plane, which for decades have been thriving hidden behind the towering slabs of the Heygate Estate in a part of London best known for concrete, cars and a big pink (now blue) shopping centre. Glimpses of the woodland can be seen by outsiders along the bustling New Kent Road and on the northern corner of Walworth Road. But today most of this mature forest is a sheltered and verdant semi-wilderness thriving in between the remains of the empty social housing estate that is being demolished. The comprehensive redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle have presented risks for this precious place as the building density will increase. We have campaigned for valuation and appreciation of the forest and had a positive impact on the redevelopment.
While the forest has been largely sealed off since autumn 2013 it can still be appreciated from the thoroughfares nearby. In the coming years of reconstruction the developer Lend Lease has committed to provide access to the forest in several ways, including a temporary park.
Click on the map to zoom in or download an A4 pdf of our illustrated map of the heart of the forest from 2011 here. Map illustrated by Rebecca Davies. We define the forest as reaching far beyond the old Heygate estate and throughout the Elephant and Castle. You can see others maps of the forest, including the far reaches of the frontier on our Maps page. Learn more about the issues around the Heygate Estate and the pressures of redevelopment in this 15 minute documentary by the Bartlett Development Planning Group.