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Natalie Brett, Head of London College of Communication: “Why I want us to stay in Elephant and Castle”


Written by
Jake May
Published date
07 February 2018

London College of Communication is proud to have been a part of the Elephant and Castle community for over 50 years, and we play a key role in bringing a wide range of benefits to Southwark.

We’re currently awaiting a final planning decision for the new building for the College, which is part of wider Elephant and Castle Town Centre redevelopment proposals. We believe this will not only provide fantastic new teaching and learning facilities, but also enable us to build upon our work with local communities, neighbours, partners and schools.

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk through why I – as someone who has worked in the borough for nearly a decade through both my time at Camberwell College of Arts and as Head of College at London College of Communication – want to secure London College of Communication’s long-term future here in Elephant and Castle.

What will we be able to achieve with our new building

In our new building, not only will we be able to provide cutting-edge new teaching and learning facilities for our diverse community of students and staff, but we will also be able to build upon the way we work with our wider communities.

The first three floors of our new building will be open to the public. Local people will be able to come to more of our workshops, events and exhibitions than ever before. We already work with local schools, neighbours and partner businesses. This new capability aims to build on that good work.

We’ll be able to continue to provide significant educational, economic, social and cultural benefits to the area. UAL will be investing significantly in Southwark’s future as an educational and creative business district, developing the borough’s existing capacity for the digital technology industries – bringing design and gaming, TV and film into a creative hub.

And it’ll bring additional UAL staff and employment opportunities to the area, with core university services relocating to the new building.

What London College of Communication brings to Elephant and Castle

Educational impact

At London College of Communication, we are local and international.

We have educated and employed generations of people from Southwark and we have an established history of welcoming students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds.

Artist impression of proposed new building for London College of Communication, UAL © Allies and Morrison

We have a strong international reputation and a significant international student community. We are proud of our diverse community and the different cultures that we bring together.

We believe that widening participation to creative communications higher education is essential to nurturing the aspirations and future careers of young people, and we work with numerous partner schools and colleges in Southwark through our Outreach programme.

We strongly believe education is an important resolution to issues of social injustice.

Economic impact

We have a diverse community of 800 staff and 4,500 students. We also attract over 15,000 visitors to the area from across Greater London, nationally and internationally each year. This helps provide significant economic benefits to Elephant and Castle and its many local businesses.

We directly support local traders, charities, and social enterprises through our delivery of innovative projects.

Through last year’s Shop Front project, we delivered free branding, signage and creative design advice to local traders in Elephant and Castle.

We believe our new building will not only provide fantastic new teaching and learning facilities, but also enable us to build upon our work with local communities, neighbours, partners and schools. — Natalie Brett, UAL Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of London College of Communication

Through LCC Studio, our unit in the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, we host free workshops, exhibitions, and events.

And through our ongoing Talent Works project, we’ve provided free website design and build to over 20 local charities, social enterprises and local groups. These are just a few examples of some of the fantastic work I’m proud that we do.

Cultural impact

Since moving here in 1962, we have offered a wide number of free public workshops, events and exhibitions, welcoming many local people into our community through these.

Some of my recent favourites have included last year’s collodion portrait workshop in LCC Studio, our Make a Mag workshop back in spring 2016, and our fantastic S*PARK and FutureMakers events as part of London Design Festival 2017.

Our location and the wider community have become an important part of who we are today, as has been explored and reflected in a wide number of public exhibitions.

Recently, Imprint explored the history of the College and chronicled how Elephant and Castle has impacted us. SE1 Data Stories used live data to visualise the life of our diverse and ever-changing borough over the last 100 years. And our more recent public event series Beyond 2001: New Horizons has allowed our students to respond to the wonderful materials in the Stanley Kubrick Archive, housed in the University’s Archives and Special Collections Centre here at London College of Communication.

Why we need a new building

As a world-leader in creative communications education, we need to offer world-class facilities that meet our teaching, research and industry partnership needs. Students invest heavily in their education and we need to invest in our site to offer a high quality and inspirational environment for students and staff. It’s for this reason that UAL are committed to delivering a new building for the College.

Our current site is over 50 years old and cannot meet our future needs. The financial cost of running an old and inefficient site is an ineffective use of funds and not sustainable in the short or long term. Staying in our existing building in its current form isn’t an option.

Our current site also restricts us from delivering the kinds of public events and community engagement activities which we’d like to and would be able to with the new building.

London College of Communication’s current site in Elephant and Castle

We appreciate a regeneration scheme of this size is complex and challenging in balancing the needs of different groups. I am aware that some individuals from the College and the wider University, as well as members of the local community, have raised concerns over the proposed development.

It’s for this reason we welcome the agreement from Southwark Council’s planning committee to defer the final planning decision to enable further discussions to take place to address key issues and concerns raised by Councillors and local community stakeholders.

I really hope that through this ongoing consultation work, a positive outcome can be reached for all parties, and we can continue to build on our legacy in Elephant and Castle – educating, employing and inspiring future generations here.

If you’d like to find out more about our ongoing work with local communities, the impact and potential of our proposed new building, or if you have any questions or comments, please email