There’s a lot of nonsense spoken about how dangerous the streets of South London are and the reality is that they’re no more scary or nefarious than anywhere else, that is, at least, until they release the alligators. Say whaaaat?
So yep, we’ve checked and this really might be a thing. Property developer Avanton has acquired a Grade II listed former gas monitor, and it’s got unconventional plans. The Victorian structure, just off the Old Kent Road, is earmarked to be converted into an alligator park and farm in a somewhat unusual, and carnivorous, tourist attraction. The site includes a 60 foot hole in the ground which they intend to floor, and the 150 foot iron frame, a structure they will cover in glass to create a massive conservatory, like a lethal version of the Eden Project.
The idea is part of a larger regeneration of the four-acre brown-field site in South London, which will be re-christened Ruby Triangle and include a mix of housing (1,152 homes, 40% of which will be much-needed affordable housing), commercial use and sports areas (how fast can you run away from a ‘gator presumably being the primary form of exercise needed).
The prehistoric creatures will be the only alligators in the capital and it’s hoped they will form a brand new tourist destination. But if the reptiles don’t pan out there’s also back-up (read: less headline grabbing) plans for a garden with water features or a lido – though after all this alligator chat don’t be surprised if nobody wants to take a dip in your lido, Avanton!)
The whacky idea has been criticised by animal rights charity World Animal Protection, who have jumped on the same media bandwagon as the rest of us, grabbing some publicity by damning the as-yet-non-existant plans as cruel nevertheless.
But they may well be out of luck. While it’s ultimately unlikely that the alligator park will come to fruition (even if it gets green lit by the council, who on earth wants to buy a house overlooking an alligator park? Trust me, ‘Cyclist dismembered by 20-foot alligator’ WILL be an Evening Standard front page spread within a couple of years if this happens), London may be getting one in any case.
According to Avanton director Marc Pennick “The alligator park and farm concept came to us after we were approached by an out-of-town specialist looking for a location for an alligator park in the capital”, so presumably the mystery ‘gator specialists will keep looking for potential sites.