Southwark's strength is our people. With our immense diversity comes an array of amazing talents and vast depths of untapped potential. Unlocking those talents and realising that potential, with nobody left behind, is what we are about as a council.
Regeneration sits at the heart of our ambition to revitalise the borough. A wealth of positive change has already happened and there is plenty more to come. From Peckham, Nunhead and Camberwell to Walworth and Bermondsey spa, Southwark is undergoing a transformation unlike any other. Developments such as One The Elephant will redefine what it means to live in central London - bringing the centre south – and opening up new opportunities for businesses and residents alike.
Throughout the Elephant and Castle area, local people are set to benefit from a dramatically improved physical environment with more attractive streets, high quality open spaces and more pedestrianised areas. They will also enjoy access to more local jobs and training opportunities as well as new cultural and leisure facilities. One The Elephant is just one part of our £1.5bn plan to renew the Elephant. Our 55 acre programme will create a new, exciting destination for London over the next 15 years. It will include the creation of a new pedestrianised town centre, market square, 5,000 new and replacement homes, up to 450,000 square feet of retail space, an integrated public transport hub and five green spaces.
Indeed, we are making good progress on all our regeneration schemes, across Southwark, ensuring they deliver benefits and opportunities for all our communities. In the last five years alone, we have completed a number of important projects to provide affordable homes throughout the borough. We are promoting healthy lifestyles via the transformation of Burgess Park (completed in 2012); a £2m package of Olympic legacy projects and new opportunities to participate in sport at the revamped leisure centre in Camberwell as well as the brand new leisure centre, due to complete in 2014, at the Elephant. With excellent facilities such as the award winning library at Canada Water, some of the top performing schools in the country and one of the lowest council tax rates in London, there couldn't be a better time to live and work in Southwark.
Our borough has a history which stretches back to the Romans and a rich heritage which endures to this day. Living in the Elephant you are no more than a stone's throw from some truly world class cultural sites, including the South Bank, Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Modern. Our two universities, London South Bank and the University of the Arts are home to the David Bomberg Gallery and Stanley Kubrick Archive, respectively. Now, with the new developments at Better Bankside and the upgrade of the Imperial War Museum, the cultural offer will only get better. But it's not just the world famous sites which attract people to Southwark. Throughout the borough, from trendy Butler's Wharf to the bustling East Street Market, there's a wealth of opportunity to shop, eat and socialise at some of the most exciting and diverse venues in London. Take a stroll in the Grade II Listed Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, visit the Cuming Museum, or venture south to shop in Lordship Lane and take in an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
As you can see, we are proud of our borough. One The Elephant and our regeneration programme, as a whole, demonstrates what we can achieve by working in partnership with business and the local community. We apply the same spirit of cooperation, innovation and imagination to everything we do and, in this way, we will make certain that, together, we build a fairer future for all.