2nd Essay Draft

How the Process of Gentrification creates an Urban Regeneration Phenomenon in London Districts and Housing Estates?

Abstract

Gentrification has experienced various changes in terms of its meaning and forms since the beginning of time when Ruth Glass in 1964 defined the term. The changes that occurred in the process of gentrification linked to changes in an economic system. Parties involved in this process consist of private developers and local councils that control the urban context of housing estates. Capital investment for a regeneration project of housing estates and districts in London set to improve better living standards for low income residents and increases a revenue but consequently different from its expectations. Regeneration involves the redevelopment of housing estates and urban districts that refurbishes an existing urban identity in accordance with contemporary architectural design.

The essay discusses the urban transformation in London due to gentrification and question how the process of gentrification creates an urban regeneration phenomenon in London districts and housing estates. The essay also examines how residents experienced the process of an urban regeneration that compromise with different types of gentrification regarding displacement to another housing environment in a negative context. The opportunity to explore perspectives of different writers and researchers views on gentrification and several case studies that explored the urban generation phenomenon. Writers and researchers expressed different opinions on gentrification in an urban architectural context.

Introduction

Residents and local councils called the phenomenon of gentrification as an urban renewal in architectural spaces, due to policy of a change in the housing market that is recognized. The process of urban renewal is resulted as an acknowledgment of low-income existing residents living in urban areas where improvement is needed to bring change in certain areas to improve quality and standard of living for existing residents. Process of gentrification involves displacement of local residents in order to improve the household situations for upper class or residents with high income. Ruth Glass, a British sociologist, originated the term “gentrification” in 1964. Ruth Glass used this term to illustrate the urban change that brought into practice with help of an innovative and different procedure. The whole procedure changed urban districts in London and these changes first called as gentrification.

According to Ruth Glass;

“One by One, many of working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle classes upper and lower….. Once this process of “gentrification” starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupiers is displaced and the social character of the district is changed”. (Glass 1964: xviii-xix)

Gentrification of urban areas resulted improvements in areas through improving an existing structure of middle and upper class residents. Prospective residents with higher income attracted towards deprived locations as low-income residents lost their homes in the form of gentrification. Property developers working with local councils proposed an urban regeneration proposal that actually consists of a phenomenon in gentrification in the process. Regeneration is the term that came into existence when the British government created policies to regenerate existing council estates in order to develop mixed communities for better social housing (Housing Association, 2013). However, writers argue that the idea of regeneration is the same as gentrification where displaced residents cannot afford rent due to higher rates and forced to locate elsewhere (Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1 – A Map shows a number of displaced residents in London, Savills 2011.

There are different views on gentrification and regeneration. Both the process of gentrification and regeneration developed locations in centralised cities for residents and communities. However, the selected areas aimed at building localities for middle and high-income residents. Through this, local councils and private developer invested in potential areas with excellent transportation links and location for the purpose of regeneration and reproduction (Madden, 2013). The urban redevelopment of London resulted in business life and location undergone remarkable changes in order to bring change to localities and remove history of working class residents.

The paper portrays different views of writers and researchers views on gentrification and analyse an overview of opinions in the literature review. This focused on London with disadvantages in the process of gentrification that creates an urban regeneration phenomenon in areas and social housing.

Literature Review

Regeneration is creating diversity in urban spaces but continuously increasing the number of displaced residents and threatening the features of communities that shared moments living together since inception. In ‘Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture’, Ben Campkin (2013) viewed regeneration in urban areas with an economic prospective where building new neighbourhoods creates diversity in the area. Campkin provided detailed and comprehensive forms of urban regeneration in London with the consequences of regeneration in centralised areas of London. The focus of regeneration in London crafted distinctiveness and individuality according to contemporary trends of regeneration. Campkin also provided complete image forms of regeneration and provided recent history of regeneration in London (2013). The research demonstrates certain benefits of regeneration for new residents but easily criticized on the basis of regeneration that focused in London.

Local councils ignored the issue of existing residents that experienced displacement linked to gentrification. In ‘Estates’, Lynsey Hanley (2012) described the history of regeneration and housing plans in East London that gives a detailed account of a housing issue in East London that started before WW1. Hanley analysed a mixed kind of gentrification policies with a regeneration project in place. She also stressed how low-income residents left exiled and displaced and no longer in a capacity to afford affordable houses.

London challenged the concept of sustainable development of their economy and their status in social housing. According toSustainable London? The future of a global city’, Rob Imrie and Loretta Lees (2014) described the social housing experience in London where local councils made changes to create social housing, but not in behalf of residents who cannot afford homes. Imrie and Lees analysed the social housing and gentrification policies that affected the system in negative means and created inequalities among communities and inhabitants of city of London. The debate in this field developed an idea that the regeneration policies prove to be developmental and equal for all social classes to create equality as these social housing policies aimed at development and progress in residential communities.

Freeman (2006) analysed the process of gentrification in different areas including New York City and the experience of residents living in deprived communities. Freeman examined the process of gentrification as not advantageous. However, residents with such community value supports gentrification, as residents to a large extent requires an urban regeneration. In addition, Freeman (2006) suggested several ways to improve conditions of gentrified residents in order to remove negative impacts of gentrified communities.

In an article ‘Gentrification and the middle class remaking of inner London 1961-2001’ Chris Hamnett (2003) demonstrated different views and opinions about gentrification. Hamnett argued that gentrification is the term that can be best defined in terms of social and economic changes that brought into social housing policies. Process of gentrification and the changes associated with business and financial conditions that relates to income for middle or working class. In addition, Hamnett associated the process of gentrification as a change of a working infrastructure in the context of London (2003). The process of gentrification consists of displaced residents, but in a context of replacing displaced residents.

In ‘An Anti-Gentrification Handbook for Council Estates in London’, Lees (2014) defined the term gentrification that provided many examples in this regard. Lees explained the experiences of residents living in council estate with campaigns participating in central London. The guidebook compromises the removal of gentrification in social housing. The respondents in research featured in different campaigns participating in different council estates where existing residents faced evictions from social cleansing proposed by local councils displayed in a map (Fig. 2). However, Lees described eviction threats posed as a form of gentrification made from local councils (2014). The handbook also demonstrated as a tool to learn techniques to avoid gentrification from policy makers threatening to regenerate social housing. Furthermore, the book described ways to promote communal activities and strategies’ to prevent council estates under the policies of regeneration and gentrification.

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Fig 2. A Map shows a displacement of Heygate Estate Residents to other areas of South East England.

These policies made in order to remove all the problems faced by different cities. Furthermore, Lees (2000) explored the meaning and definitions of gentrification based on the process emerged immediately after the period of recession and on the basis of 1990’s American and British policies of urban development for gentrification of different locations. These policies made in order to remove all the problems faced by different cities. Lees provided several suggestions for redevelopment and modernizing the process of gentrification. However, the progress in research and analysis of policies required some areas that need a special attention of different types of gentrification including super gentrification, minority gentrification and discourse on gentrification (2000). Lees pointed out that research methodology is one of issues that arises during research about gentrification, its types and effects on inhabitants and policies of authorities.

The emerging and new middle class is the part of divergence that is growing day by day in urban society. Ley (1996) analysed the development of a new middle class that has created by the process of gentrification. The overview of this new kind of middle class comprised of highly paid professional. Ley analysed the market conditions, demand and supply chain and the places of leisure in the inner parts of city that effected urban policies. Moreover, Ley has taken into account some of sties of Canada to conduct the research about gentrification and the development of new middle class (1996). The new middle class effected cities not targeted from local councils for regeneration and promoting a new culture through movements and affecting policies of inner cities. For the purpose of studying gentrification, Ley developed theoretical framework and provided detailed historical image.

In ‘Ground Control’, Anna Minton (2012) demonstrated that inner areas of Britain experienced tremendous change in context of property and re-construction of property in these areas. Properties now owned by private developers and used for generating profits, where buildings equipped with modern requirements and developed in the name of regeneration. However, Minton raised questions on the positions and impacts, positive or negative on local communities. Minton acknowledged that regeneration has changed society where design and structure of older communities and social housing system transformed in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher’s government (2012). Conclusively, urban regeneration affected local residents that experienced displacement as the developed infrastructure provided a modernized image to local residents but with a negative impact due to the process of gentrification.

Guardian writer Owen Hatherley (2011) described the outlook of Heygate estate that under gone the process of gentrification and described a detailed image of the regenerated south part of London. Hatherley asserted in the paper that greenery and natural views removed because of gentrification. Residents are unhappy of the whole process that is the form of gentrification (2011). The public owned property is now in hands of private developers that transform existing communities with the assistance of local councils. Affordable housing is a term used in urban regeneration project in London but no guarantee if residents allowed to move back into newly designed social housing. Hatherley also developed the image of an urban regeneration effort from local councils and asked questions regarding the future of social housing. To conclude, the future will not much differ from old regenerated social housing and more displaced residents in these areas. The regeneration is nothing more than creating social communities and keeping low-income residents away from residential areas.

In an article, ‘Other geographies of gentrification” Progress in Human Geography’ Philips (2013) examined geographies of gentrification in places. Philips’ analysis set to improve urban societies and their features with traces of old urban societies and housing plans. Philips developed an argument that geographies of gentrification featured common rural areas in some urban societies but the possibility of being similar is low (2013). In addition, Philips specifically focused on gentrification in Britain and attempt to connect geographical features and similarities with each other.

The viewpoints discussed the process of gentrification extends to explore contemporary case studies across London where residents experienced displacement under the urban regeneration phenomenon.

Contemporary Case Studies

(IMAGE MAP OF AREAS AND ESATES THAT EXPERIENCED GENTRIFICATION)

Brixton, South London

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Brixton is based in South London that experienced the process of gentrification. The views on gentrification as some people think that the process of gentrification is process of taking out souls (Davies, 2014). The process of gentrification in Brixton started in the 1970s and still on-going process in the area. Brixton is one of the cases that explored gentrification where a displacement of existing residents appeared outside the area. The innovation led by the process of gentrification contacted with an old culture of inner London with traditional markets, barbershops, and local cafes in London still exists. (IMAGE) Race and ethnicity and specially multiculturalism represented in Brixton as one of the features that attracts visitors outside of Brixton. However, the attraction towards Brixton does not depends on multiculturalism that exist in post gentrified areas rather places with a cultural diversity, and mixed traditions in this part of London is attraction for everyone (Mavrommatis, 2011).

Rents increased due to the process of gentrification that attracted middle class residents. The case of Brixton considered as successful but increasing rent prices in social housing created unaffordable properties for low income residents and thus an impact on its features of community living. Features of community living together and sharing commonalities no longer feature that shifted from places to inner London in the past decade (Flyn, 2013). The residents felt the process of gentrification brought private businesses in this district and lowered crime rate but process was uncomfortable.

The transition was not easy for the people living in these communities from decades and now forced to move their livings to other places. In the Guardian video, novelist Alex Wheatley (2013) lived in Brixton in the 1980s stated that gentrification removed reasonable schools attended by local residents for building private properties and out priced young professionals to purchase houses in the future. The local residents think Brixton explored weakness by this process as the locality became expensive for low-income residents and there is lower rate of integration in Brixton as compared to the past (Mondesert, 2013). Nevertheless, Brixton market boosted up by the process of gentrification and great modification offered, but also threatened by the increasing rents (Godwin, 2013).

Brixton is considered to be organic gentrification as the urban regeneration happened while represented the same old traditional beauty and features that maintained in a diverse culture. Gentrification is process that lead to evolution of cities and certain features of these cities such as invasion by outside businesses. (Ball, 2014) The diversity in Brixton includes different social classes that created a kind of socio-economic distinctions, but local residents blame gentrification for the reason of expensive rents and unaffordable amenities. Therefore, gentrification has created complicated image in Brixton, as there are more differences than any other gentrified localities in London.

Heygate Estate, South London

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Heygate Estate based in South East London is an urban environment for developers as a purpose of regeneration where local residents slowed down the process of gentrification through negotiations. The discussion forum between developers, local residents and Southwark council authorities held and resulted in implementation of decision of regeneration over Heygate Estate. Local residents find dissatisfaction where a lack of preparation for an urban regeneration project forced to move away from the social housing estate (Lees, 2014). Consequently, the process of gentrification started to attract wealthy people with higher income to live in localities. The housing schemes announced by Southwark council failed to build on time except some residents. But, the rest of displaced families left with an option to resettle elsewhere through Southwark council searching scheme according to map designed by Loretta Lees (Fig. 3). Currently, most homes left empty due to low income resident had to move from these houses to other land leasers and private rented places (EAN, 2013). The state led gentrification that enforced a displacement in the process. In addition, Southwark council failed to compromise local residents in keeping their estate safe from the process of gentrification. Scraton (2013) referred Heygate Estate as an “Urban Forest” that raised issues and concerns due to the process of gentrification.

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Fig. 3 – Displacement Map of residents living in Heygate Estate

Reality is different from theory presented by developers as local residents displaced with no benefits provided and, neither regenerated social houses affordable due to higher rents. (Londonist, 2014) In addition to displaced people from their property, the area has lost its natural views and greenery replaced by glass and concrete wall that disdains the concept of community housing (IMAGE). Process of gentrification is responsible for all the change in South London, as Hatherley (2011) argued no future in a range of gentrified areas rather than improving conditions of regenerated places. Local residents living in Heygate Estate expressed opinions that represent no difference in the process of gentrification.

The residents pushed away from Heygate Estate showed unhappiness with it due to the reason homes is being removed and proposed a favourable housing regeneration project. In a video, former Heygate resident Ivy (2008) explained how Southwark council regeneration’s proposal failed to compromise local residents in the area for new homes that never materialised in the concept of affordable housing. In addition, an interview with former Heygate resident Evelyn (2014) explained her issues with Southwark council regarding rehousing programme. Heygate Estate residents relied on temporary contracts for resident lived in the area for up to 8 years that are not automatically entitled to rehousing in the new urban regeneration project.

Local councils authorities represented a transition from trust to disloyalty while creating a compromising relationship with local residents in Heygate Estate. In a video, Heygate Estate residents Ivy and Gurlin (2014) persuaded local labour councillor Martin Seaton how undemocratic urban regeneration proposed failed to convince existing residents. Though over 300 complaints from local residents, Cllr Seaton expressed support of an urban redevelopment at the Heygate Estate planning application hearing in January 2013. The story indicates how Heygate Estate experienced the process of a state led gentrification where Cllr Seaton from the Labour Party created an Urban Regeneration Phenomenon for local residents to be displaced in a negative manner. Proposed social housing projects where local residents lived in Heygate Estate for decades are being displaced and homes abolished and featured no part in urban regeneration project (Walker, 2013).

Aylesbury Estate, South East London

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Aylesbury Estate based in South East London experienced regeneration for long starting in previous century with the idea of mixed communities aimed at creation of a new middle class and better living conditions for working class residents. Property developers started purchasing land from local councils for urban regeneration projects. Gradually, Southwark council proposed a gentrification methodology that continued to handle low-income residents as an issue where investors expressed an idea of profit making schemes in South East London rather providing social housing (Hill, 2014). For this purpose, large number of houses being rebuilt and redeveloped as local residents issued assurance in moving back. However, local residents had issues with Southwark council as homes never maintained for them. On the other hand, local residents expressed concerned regarding living conditions and disadvantages of the housing regeneration plan. However, with the plan of regeneration implemented, almost 50% of homes were relocated back to the housing and others were displaced (Housing Association, 2009). Aylesbury Estate recorded a number of displaced local residents not large as compared to others but the issue of low compensation for leaseholders.

The state led gentrification in Aylesbury Estate, specified as an urban regeneration project that consists the idea of affordable housing but not affordable in real sense. Both developers and Southwark council promised affordable rents for low-income residents but affordable defined as 80% higher than market rent for a single flat (Lees, 2014). Promises of affordable housing and resettlement never materialised in real time for local resident rather complaint for resettlement.

In a BBC documentary, former Aylesbury Estate homeowner Beverley Robinson (2014) explained her struggle to save funds to purchase a flat in the Estate in 2008. 12 months later, Robinson received a letter from Southwark council that Aylesbury Estate set for demolition. In addition, Southwark council legally selected the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) system to evict Robinson from the property. The local residents almost forced to accept the proposal of an urban regeneration programme as left with the choice of accepting the proposition or living in a housing estate that required architectural renovation but unlikely to be constructed directly by Southwark Council. (Imrie & Lees, 2014). The process of gentrification occurred in Aylesbury Estate with proposed to purchase flats from residents, but below expectations.

Robin Hood Gardens, East London

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As a public housing project, Robin Hood Gardens in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets consists of two hundred and fifty flats that are contained in two slab blocks facing one another across in an open urban space. It has faced profound criticism because it has been taken as a failed housing society in the recent years, where Robin Hood Gardens is not a viable solution to live anymore (Building Design, 2012). The procedure of gentrification in Robin Hood Garden is started by Tower Hamlets council proposed demolition of the project and will be replaced by a new mixed income-housing scheme (IMAGES). It will be a part of new larger master plan. (Municipal Dreams, 2014)

The process of gentrification and redevelopment in Robin Hood gardens consisted on an architectural idea of conserving the housing identity and heritage designed by architects the Smithson. However, arguments made that this process destroys heritage and identity of Robin Hood Gardens. 20th Century Society (2008) favoured the building to be listing, but the English Heritage stopped the momentum.

According to the English Heritage:

‘By the time the estate was opened, in 1972, it was already out-of-date and at the end of the high-rise, “streets-in-the-sky” movement – so it was not significantly influential’. (English Heritage: 2008:15)

Before demolition proposals, architects and historians championed Robin Hood gardens as an architectural identity of communal space, maintaining memories and building society based on urban designs. (Peter et al, 2014). The new urban regeneration project proposed to replace Robin Hood Gardens housing scheme as the “New Blackwall” project that consisted of 1600 new homes with associated community and commercial uses.

The community space built inheritance of Robin Hood Gardens with a vision that aimed to create sustainable attractive and comprehensive place for inhabitants to live in a city. The new homes proposed to achieve far above ground sustainability standards as well as blocking into a district heating system with the development and progress of the urban regeneration project. The design plan of the buildings designed to higher efficiencies with relatively small number of homes per floor and very munificent communal lobby areas to consent to resident attraction.(IMAGES) This project will provide the residents with community facilities and commercial properties. Gentrification of the old warehouse to new advanced style houses and development of social amenities brings economic benefit to prospective residents.

Existing residents living in Robin Hood Gardens promised to be returned, as the new development is aimed to attract a better class of people and foreign investors (Timstandfeld, 2012). However, existing residents refused to leave the social housing estate. According to the Guardian video, Gary Truman (2009) lived in Robin Hood Gardens for 30 years and experienced an urban transformation in the area. A collection of low-income families moved into Robin Hood Gardens as Truman noted his refusal to leave Robin Hood Gardens due to a strong communal atmosphere. However, resident Shopna Khan (2009) shared her agreed with Truman but opposed the idea of maintaining the building. Khan discussed how badly architectural spaces designed to accommodate a large family of five children in a two bedroom flat. Khan also explained how bad maintenance repairs occurred while living in Robin Hood Gardens. The process of a proposed gentrification in Robin Hood Gardens highlighted issues noted to Tower Hamlets council that conserving the building is not an option with overcrowded families concreted the driving force of residents being displaced to other areas in London.

Haggerston Estate, East London (Demolished in 2014)

 

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The Haggerston estate is a red neo-Georgian former council estate, made up of many individual open blocks. It is situated in the heart of Hackney, where house rents and prices increased faster than several other London boroughs. Samuel House set as the block demolished in July 2014. In ‘Estate, Art, Politics and Social Housing’ Andera Zimmerman (2013) described Haggerston Estate built in 1910-30 that perceived as progressive social housing. The estate created for working class residents often called as prestige blocks. However, Haggerston Estate experienced gentrification in recent times in response to the residents’ voted in favour of a refurbishment project rejected by Hackney council due to preservation and maintenance costs (Hackney Council, 2007). A change came over with residents voting in favour of a replacement to L&Q housing association with complete gentrification. Though the process of under rapid gentrification demolished the blocks, the social housing infrastructure maintained as developers proposed an newly developed social housing regeneration project that is financed through increasing density and sale of private flats (IMAGES).

Andrea Zimmerman (2013) lived in Haggerston Estate for 16 years (1997-2013) and experienced an urban transformation changed nothing much in Haggerston estate since 1980s. Zimmerman (2013) also described how structure surroundings telling people to move out to other areas of London and Hackney council agreed on privatising spaces but residents losing social housing. The post urban gentrification explored in London as some old and some regenerated areas represented the past and present of London. The Haggerston estate is the place that transformed under the regeneration processes.

Residents promised and offered a flat in the newly developed project and they will be re-housed temporarily during the construction phase of the new project.

Zimmerman (2013) motivated to produce a film on Haggerston estate in response to a history of ‘neglect, decline and broken promise’ from Hackney Council. The film, ‘Estate: A reviere’ (2013) with the name of ‘I am here’ inspired Zimmerman to record narratives of existing residents living in Samuel House that produced the visual environment in a gentrified neighbourhood. Zimmerman’s photography project (2009) in Samuel House determined to resist effects a large range of residents. Orange boards appeared in a derelict Samuel House, replaced with portraits on the building. (IMAGES) Despite the negative process of gentrification in, beforehand Zimmerman’s concept transformed the architectural landscape setting in front of Regents Canal gave a visual character that resisted rapid gentrification. The concept of an instrumentalised art resists the narrative of an urban regeneration phenomenon.

 

Conclusion

The urban transformation of London grounded on the process of gentrification that started before WW1 in several housing estates and districts. The process of gentrification started by private developers to improve living standards and conditions for low-income residents in certain districts and estates. However, the process posed a threat to residents. The process of gentrification based on an idea of an urban improvement but low-income residents living in such areas displaced where residents cannot afford the gentrified houses as social housing shifted in private ownership. Low income residents replaced by middle class and higher income resident that attracted to a regenerated districts and housing estates in London.

Gentrification turned out to be an urban regeneration phenomenon played effectively in the process of regeneration where stages involved local councils working with government authorities to improve living conditions for low-income residents. Government authorities working with local councils agreed with private developers to start such plans of an urban regeneration that presented the idea of affordable housing. The idea consists of low-income residents buying reasonable properties in the housing market, but small portion of low-income residents returned to the same urban housing environment rather large portion of low-income residents left displaced. The process involved moving to other places in London due to the fact that affordable housing failed to be affordable for low-income residents. The newly designed properties are marketed at much higher rates than previous ones and the theory of improvement in living conditions for low-income residents never came into practice. (Madden, 2013)

The process of regeneration in districts and housing estates in London brought changes in districts and improved the urban environment and housing infrastructure. Improved housing infrastructure with contemporary designs entitled to improve living standards for newly settled residents. Nevertheless, districts compromised to displace low-income residents who lived in the area for decades with middle class residents. Writers expressed different views about gentrification and regeneration in different parts of London and have discussed negative impacts on local residents. The reinvestment in regenerating Heygate Estate presented by property developers and local councils that manifested the process of state led gentrification. However, writers highlighted a point that government support for developers promoting an urban regeneration project in districts asserted affordable housing in the process. Social housing marketed as affordable for low-income residents in areas such as Aylesbury Estate showed the concept of displacement of existing residents from housing properties. Brixton underlined as a district that experienced organic gentrification with more displaced residents with the inequality in class and economic difference. Robin Hood Gardens considered as a proposed gentrification after a series of protests and campaigns to maintain the housing estate, but local council appeal to an urban regeneration proposal. Haggerston Estate explored gentrification that consists of an urban regeneration phenomenon. Gentrified residents promised to resettle in a proposed refurbish housing, but financial costs indicated a need for demolition and present an urban regeneration process. Issues and benefits in housing estates and districts created negative decisions where writers explored in the process of gentrification stated as an urban regeneration phenomenon in London.

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Peter., F. B, Comer. D. C, Prescott. C, Soderland. H. A, (2014), Identity and Heritage: Contemporary challenges in a Globalized world, New York, London, (ONLINE), https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GNjVBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=gentrification+in+robin+hood+gardens&source=bl&ots=LQpfQ5Wksc&sig=laXRUuZuCO04wz4xEhhss5Heo9M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KzuuVPPyEZGUar2fgfAO&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=gentrification%20in%20robin%20hood%20gardens&f=false   (05 January 2015)

Timstandfeld, (2012), Robin Hood Gardens – who is regenerating what? (ONLINE), http://timstansfeld.planningresource.co.uk/2012/10/29/robin-hood-gardens-who-is-regenerating-what/ (05 January 2015)

Walker., P, (2013), Heygate Pyramid: London estate’s evicted residents damn art plan, (ONLINE), http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/12/heygate-pyramid-london-estate-evicted-condemn-artwork (05 January 2015)

http://www.artsandecology.info/?page_id=160&doing_wp_cron=1420619032.6955649852752685546875

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W4 DRAFT ESSAY – HOW THE PROCESS OF STATE LED GENTRIFICATION CREATES A REGENERATION PHENOMENON IN ROBIN HOOD GARDENS?

Abstract

Gentrification has undergone considerable changes in its meaning since its coinage in 1964 by British sociologist Ruth Glass. Most of these changes are related to larger economic and political considerations where governments get involved with cities redevelopment with the primary aim of capital investments and increase in tax revenue through privately owned premises. Many scholars have different views on the meaning of gentrification. Regeneration of these houses means the replacement of some old, decaying and dilapidated houses with more modern and efficient houses for existing and future tenants.

This paper discusses the meaning of gentrification and the changes it has gone through in recent times as seen by various scholars. This also takes a case study of the state-led gentrification in London’s Dockland area citing the benefits and costs that come along with gentrification.

In addition, this paper concludes the real issues on the process of a proposed state led gentrification as a phenomenon in Robin Hood Gardens and whether existing residents were offered new homes in Blackwall Reach, Docklands.

Introduction

According to Parkins and Smith (1998), gentrification was originated in ancient Rome where large villas substituted small shops in the 3rd century, AD. This consisted an illegal expansion of metropolitan Rome that had a trend to use a strategy to gain successful urban land that was a phenomenon.

Gentrification has seen a transition in its meaning since its introduction in 1964 by sociologist Ruth Glass. The process has moved from being defined as an insubstantial urban process that affects residential neighbourhoods to broader definition. That includes commercial redevelopment that view gentrification as being part of the wider restructuring of various urban spaces. Recent definitions of gentrification have classified it as true urban process affecting both big and small urban centres globally. Gentrification has existed for several decades and Ruth Glass, a British Sociologist, coined the term in 1964. She did this while referring to the changes she had observed in the social structure and housing markets that were taking place in various areas of inner London. Therefore, the very first definition of gentrification can be derived from Ruth Glass’s observation that described it as:

One by one many of the working class quarters has been invaded by the middle class- upper and lower…Once this process of ‘gentrification starts in a district it goes rapidly until all or most of the working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed (Glass 1964, xvii).

This early definition of gentrification by Ruth Glass laid more emphasis on the residential housing market and the rehabilitation of existing properties.

There have been considerable arguments on how to define gentrification, whether to consider it as only residential rehabilitation described by Ruth Glass or to widen it to encompass large-scale production of urbanism for middle class involving new-build developments on vacant land. In recent years, this definition has expanded to accommodate vacant lands which is usually in the prior industrial set up and the newly built designer neighbourhoods and not forgetting the neighbourhood of working-class housing (Smith, 2002). Gentrification depicts the social class imbalances and injustices stemming from the capitalist land markets and policies. It brings about the undesirable effects to people such as rising house expense, which is an enormous burden on low-income earners and the working-class households. There are also the more serious effects such as displacement, eviction, and homelessness emanating from the creation of urban environment aimed at serving the needs of capital accumulation, which overlooks the social needs of home, community and family (Smith, 2002).

Local authorities in London shifted from social governance to neoliberal models concerning urban governance through economic development initiatives, which has seen states get more focused on shaping its social and economic infrastructure of cities (Hackworth, 2002). London embarked on strategies to attract capital in the form of corporate interests, and many political agendas have been focusing on building sustainable cities. In the quest to increase the tax base by cities, state interventions and government programs have taken centre stage recently with the aim of moulding inner-city redevelopments. Social mixing initiatives that are concerned with decentralise poor working class and attracting the middle-class back to city life has been a key strategy for solving the problems.

Urban regeneration is some key examples of government support for city improvements. Policy makers consider gentrification as an avenue for improving deteriorated neighbourhoods and bring together residents from various social, economic backgrounds and bringing life back to deserted or previously decrepit neighbourhoods (Freeman, 2006). Gentrification has also been crucial to bringing an increase in property tax revenue as more middle-class and affluent residents replace the low-income residents. Despite such benefits, state-led gentrification has found criticism and many scholars have argued that it facilitates further social-spatial polarisation; exacerbating some of the problems it intended to solve in places such as Heygate Estate and Aylesbury Estate. For instance according to Atkinson (2002), gentrification comes along with several adverse impacts, which include displacement, harassment and eviction of residents, homelessness, conflicts, loss of affordable housing, social displacement, crime, changes in local service provision and loss of population. Residents of Heygate Estate guaranteed new homes as part of the regeneration project, but these had not been built by the time they were decanted off the estate in 2007 by Southwark Council (Hatherley, 2011). Such Many have also seen gentrification as jus a tool being used by the government to increase tax revenues in pride of redevelopment of cities.

Docklands is one of the former port areas in England, which is located to the east of the centre of London on both sides of the river Thames. Gentrification in this area began as early as 1980s and is now mostly complete. Thatcher’s government politically initiated the development of this area. The first intentions of such redevelopment were for just urban regeneration but now been characterised with development-led gentrification (Slater: 2006). Gated developments, private security, and surveillance, top-notch transport and infrastructure development and increased revenues from privately owned estates now characterise the area.

Architects Alison and Peter Smithson designed Robin Hood Gardens and completed in 1972 (RIBA, 2013). Despite the success in noise reduction, they failed in delivering adequate standards of living for residents. The residential estate was apprehended for a difficult site when architects were thinking about Post war city living. Big debate whether Robin Hood Gardens should be listed, but 20th Century Society refused to list the building (Powers, 2010). This created an enforced state led gentrification that is a wave of demolition of council housing estates in London such as Robin Hood Gardens. London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) plans to replace an astonishing communal space in the estate with better homes and urban environment, but for both private and existing residents.

This paper seeks to offer different overviews of gentrification by various scholars as discussed in the literature review section of this essay. The paper takes a close look at gentrification in London city and particularly on London’s Docklands area citing benefits and costs in the process. This paper also investigates the practical scenario on how the process of gentrification in Robin Hood Gardens proposed a new regeneration project called Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project. This explores the mechanism of a proposed state led gentrification as a phenomenon tool for existing residents in Robin Hood Gardens. They will have a guaranteed option to stay in the area, with an offer made of a permanent move to a new home with Swan Housing partnership. Or choosing this option will become assured tenants, but with their key rights of secure council tenure preserved by the new landlord.

Literature review

An earlier definition of gentrification was documented in ancient Rome where this type of gentrification is far from distinguishing where academics classified this term as ‘re-urbanisation’ (Archibugi, 2004). This was more focused than a residential movement, where this effect only in small urban city centres that is part of an intricate urban infrastructure. The process is old in cities, but become particularly prominent in the last 100 years.

Nevertheless, the definition of gentrification like that of Ruth Glass in 1964 focused on residential housing market and the rehabilitation of existing properties. In her book In London: Aspects of Change, Ruth Glass observations were that the social status of many residential areas was being upgraded as the middle class shifted to middle class or into working class space, taking up residence, opening their own businesses and being in the forefront in demanding for infrastructure improvements. She felt there was a great deal of displacements taking place and those who could not own their own homes, the small enterprises and the low-income earners were being pushed out from the areas undergoing developments. However, recent work has widened the earlier definition of gentrification. Recent research continues to highlight the challenges facing the current scope of gentrification towards its conceptualisation (Slater, 2004).

According to Smith (2002), gentrification has widened up and has become the new form of neo-liberal urban policy. While the original definitions of gentrification focused on the middle class householders rehabilitating their homes, recent work have also focused new-build developments, often in new areas such as beside water or in other notable places in the city. From initial studies, it shows that gentrification was initially confined to the western cities but in recent years, it has spread globally and has also moved away from the central cities since its it is being used to describe the changes taking place in the suburbs of various cities. Therefore gentrification studies should not only focus on major urban centres.

Philips (2004) has been on the forefront in criticising many gentrification researchers and scholars for their narrow analyses and focus of gentrification on urban set ups and their ignorance of other traces of gentrification in different locations. Nevertheless, it commonly takes place in urban areas in places that were not well developed in the urban infrastructure creating opportunity for profitable redevelopment putting more weight on the needs and concerns of the business and policy makers at the expense of the residents in such areas. It has also experienced vast growth in areas that have experienced loss of manufacturing employment and has seen an increase in service employment that has led to an increase in the amount of middle-class workers which are more attracted to city living (Slater, 2004).

Smith (2002) considers post-recession gentrification as a global urban strategy to create new urbanism. The concept of gentrification has been mass produced, mass marketed and mass consumed in various parts of the world. Significant areas of the globe have experienced urbanisation, and there is an increasing desire for urban lifestyles resulting to spread of the process of gentrification even to the third world cities, first world suburban and rural areas. Many studies of gentrification have failed adequately to problematise the locations of gentrification (Smith, 2002). Traditional forms of gentrification have changed with time. Traditional forms such as an individual gentrifier who renovates areas not invested or old dilapidated houses through sweat equity or by hiring private developers and interior designers to develop middle class neighbourhoods and the displacement of low-income earners residents as defined by Glass’s book are increasingly taking other directions.

Recently, gentrification has been state-led where national and local governmental policies have sought and advocated gentrification, for instance, in London (Atkinson, 2002). Third-wave gentrification no longer gives emphasis on residential but is also commercial. In addition, it is not only focused on disinvested neighbourhoods since some neighbourhoods that already went through gentrification and reinvestment have also been candidates for reapplying gentrification, and there are also new-build gentrifications (Lees, 2000). For example the presence of new-build corporate developments in marginal locations, the construction of new-build housing in gentrified areas and developments in inner-city of Newcastle in England which was built over razed public housing demonstrating the strategic attempts by the Newcastle City Council to attract and bring back the middle class back into the various locations in the city centre (Lees and Butler, 2006).

Considering work from three scholars, the meaning of gentrification can be viewed in three explanations. Firstly, Ley’s work (1986, 1996) (cited in Hamnet 2003) considers gentrification to stem from the altering of industrial structure in the main cities of the world. This argument gives consideration to the changes in manufacturing based industries to service industries in the inner cities that results in a simultaneous shift in the occupational class structure of residents from that of people mostly based around the manufacturing working class people to that increasingly dominated professionals involved in office jobs and whose financial, cultural and service industries are found in the major cities that are undergoing gentrification. Secondly, Ley’s work (1980) and Butler’s work (1997) (cited in Hamnet 2003) considers gentrification as the restructuring of industries in inner city areas.

According to this argument, because of the changes in class composition, changes have also been experienced in the cultural orientation, preference and working patterns in the middle class working in these industries and this has pushed them to live in inner cities as opposed to commuting from leafy suburban areas. In addition, the purchasing of properties in the inner city was catalysed by individual preferences and demand as opposed to Smith’s work of gentrification on a larger scale. The movement of women into new working class and the expansion of smaller adult oriented households that is well suited to central neighbourhood also fuelled this.

Finally, Smith’s work differs from other scholars’ definitions of gentrification. According to Smith (2002), gentrification is the movement of capital and not people. The pushing factors of gentrification was the growing difference between the potential value of inner urban properties and their actual land values opening up what he termed as rent gap which has been taken up and exploited by the activities of property based capital, estate agents and private developers who have taken up the action of gentrifying the undervalued inner city housing for major profits. Therefore, it can be concluded that it is difficult to have a single definition of gentrification as many research works as considered it in different views as discussed.

State Led Gentrification in London Housing Estates

Hackworth (2002) definition of gentrification capitalises in the production of urban space for progressively affluent users. In other words, it involves the movement of middle-class residents to a predominantly working class and in many cases displacing the original inhabitants. This movement brings changes to the area’s social and economic composition not forgetting its appearance and the usage of newly built housing.

Gentrification in London has its roots before the first World War period where plans were set aside to deal with the declining inner city population and look at the outward movement of the population to areas outside the Green Belt. Award-winning Pepys Estate in Deptford, Lewisham, built in the late 1960s showed the concept of state led gentrification as Lewisham council advertised Aragon Tower, to housing associations without informing existing tenants, and started to decant residents out of the Estate in the late 1990s (Lees, 2014). The large-scale clearances and developments initiated were aimed at removing the continuing spatial concentrations of poverty, unemployment and ill health. In 2002, Aragon Tower sold to private developers Berkeley Homes Plc. for over £10 million and became a gated development called ‘Z apartments’. Later, the threat of clearances and other city problems saw massive depopulation of inner London, which was also facilitated by growth of new towns outside the Green Belt. People left behind mostly included those who lacked the ability to move (Hamnet, 2003).

Gentrification later emerged from such context where the once working-class areas started to get uplifted socially and economically with the migration of middles class groups into such areas. A few reasons can be considered to have facilitated gentrification process. Most people cannot afford to live in a new place. Heygate Estate was demolished between 2011 and 2014 as the former residents displaced to areas near the area, which was recorded in a studied created by Loretta Lees (Lees, 2014). She produced a map of residents that lived in the Heygate Estate displaced outside of London, as they can no longer afford to stay in London. This process also breaks these communities where they lived together for years. When residents claim that social cleansing is going on some estates, are actually contesting an issue whether the place needs an improvement, with local authorities and the government have made false promises (Lees, 2014).

One is that the inner city disinvestment, which brought about the economic gap between property values and the underlying land values. These have a financial beneficial return to the city (Smith, 1979). Another consideration is the preference of the middle-class residents whose new culture and economic status pushed them to living in inner cities as opposed to the models of suburban living (Ley, 1996). They felt the inner city would offer them the necessary space in their social diversity and other pleasures absent in the suburbs. These middle-class groups were restoring houses in areas once threatened by clearances.

From recent research and observation of gentrification, it can be seen in the wider context of globalisation and London’s status as a world city. Thus by initiating and providing centrally located and architecturally distinct enclaves would make London continue to attract the highly skilled classes, which in return would aid in promoting the city’s functional role in the global economy (Butler, 1997). In many places of London, a space for these developments has been created from the remains of London’s industrial past. In recent years urban industries have declined in their economic significance. Therefore, even the buildings used for manufacturing lost their intended purpose. There is demand for new space both residential and commercial (Hamnet, 2003).

Gentrification in London is being supported by private developers and encouraged by the UK government policy (Atkinson, 2002). London’s development strategy places more weight on the importance of housing density and utilising maximum capacity out of these developments aimed at increasing housing supply to the required unit on a yearly basis. It is encouraging the new changes in the use of industrial and commercial buildings to residential estates through the concept of urban living as phenomena. Notting Hill Housing and Southwark Council proposed on a regeneration project of the Aylesbury Estate in South East London. The proposition is to provide 3,500 new homes, 50% of which will be affordable, 75% of which will be for target rent and 25% for shared ownership (Southwark Council, 2014). This ensured better community facilities and improved open spaces for local people experience the social and economic benefits of regeneration, such as employment, education and health. Land is scarce in London; therefore, these projects represent sustainable and efficient ways to providing additional housing. But, 50% might be affordable housing, but the definition of ‘affordable housing’ that has changed so much under the present government meant 75% of market rent (Wiles, 2014).

In addition, maintaining the character of the area and the return of resident to inner city as residential areas. There has occurred great diversity in the gentrification process the theme of pioneer gentrifiers has been lost and replaced by an architectural aesthetic. Current gentrifiers are concerned with buying physical environment of the neighbourhood without considering the local social integration implied in the mixed community ideals of the past gentrifiers and contemporary policy makers (Forrest and Kearns, 2001).

The Process of Gentrification Phenomenon in Robin Hood Gardens

Robin Hood Gardens is a public housing project in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets consisting of two hundred and fifty flats contained in two slab blocks facing each other across a landscape open space (The Architecture Review, 2014). It is a residential estate that was designed between the late 1960s, and its completion came in 1972 (Peter Stewart Consultancy 2007). Robin Hood Garden has faced heavy criticism as has been considered by many a failed social housing scheme in the recent years. The process of gentrification in this area involving demolition would offer a better room for improvement than refurbishing the area.

Swan Housing, London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority worked with the local community to regenerate the Robin Hood Gardens estate and the surrounding area (Blackwall Reach, 2013). The regeneration aims to deliver a maximum of 1575 new, high-quality homes for existing and new residents alongside community facilities, shops, improved open space, an enhanced school and improved links to surrounding neighbourhoods. This serves the needs of the existing close-knit community and businesses and improves quality of life.

The reasons for advocating demolition as opposed refurbishment include the fact that refurbishing the building would be very costly yet it would not guarantee the existing residents quality homes and to live in an improved area. Secondly, it would jeopardise the opportunity to wholly improve the place by providing an extended school, providing a more open space and other new community facilities for the residents (Blackwall Reach, 2013). Building of new modern homes would meet energy efficiency required in these homes something that Robin Hood gardens would not offer. Residents in the area suffer from overcrowding that exerts pressure on other community facilities such as over-subscribed primary school and inadequate worship places like small mosque. Another point to consider is the fact that refurbishment would bring along high costs to the leaseholders who instead would have been recharged for their share of these works and finally the condition of these housing needs more than just maintenance for instance the leaking roofs and unsafe street sky (Peter Stewart Consultancy 2007).

New development in the area would come up with over one thousand five hundred new high-quality mixed-tenure homes for existing and new residents. In addition to new homes, it would also create community facilities, commercial properties such as a new park, an enhanced school and improved connection with the neighbouring neighbourhoods. Demolished Robin Hood Gardens would be replaced with more modern sustainable developments including energy-efficient homes, designed open places and local shops (Peter Stewart Consultancy 2007).

Docklands has experienced beneficial effects stemming from this regeneration, which is now seen as a phenomenon of gentrification. The place has experienced environmental benefits such as creation of pedestrian bridges and new open spaces (Blackwall Reach, 2013). Economic benefits include rise in employment, transport revolution and other community facilities. Social benefits, on the other hand, include improvement in the housing units, gentrification of the old warehouse to new homes and development of social amenities. Gentrification of London Docklands came with the creation of finance districts. This shows the replacement of estates and housing, privatisation of public space, improved security and surveillance not forgetting the creation of new transport systems and infrastructure (Minton, 2012).

Demolition of estates such as the Robin Hood Gardens is considered a displacement of a community, but the new development is meant to attract a better class of residents’ thus foreign investors. This also means that the current residents promised to be either maintained or returned (Blackwall Reach, 2013). Mayors and the local councils back developer who argues to providing better housing for Londoners with various incomes. The process of state-led gentrification is peruses these policies of demolition and rebuild and the sorts of people who live in the area that do change. There is a demographic change where critics classify this process as social cleansing. Advocates would say this is improving the area. There is a invariably displacement of the poorer working class residents replaced by middle class higher earning residents as that process of displacement is an example Ruth Glass demonstrated (Lees, 2008).

Conclusion

From the discussions in this paper, it is clear that it is not easy to come up with a single accurate definition of gentrification since many scholars have used the term differently. Many scholars have viewed gentrification to constitute of essential elements, which includes the reinvestment of capital, the social upgrading of locale by incoming high-income groups, landscape changes, and direct or indirect displacement of low-income groups. Therefore, it can be concluded that gentrification at glance is an economic restructuring, social reconfiguration and physical transformation that involves the displacement of existing residents. However, gentrification has brought a phenomenon in Robin Hood Gardens, where existing residents are still involved in the regeneration proposal. Some scholars have focused on the meaning of the term while others have laid emphasis on the causes and consequences of the process as discussed in the paper. The UK government has been embarking on improving its cities, for instance, the improvement experienced in Docklands, which is one of the former ports in the country. Gentrification of cities comes along with advantages as well as disadvantages. Key benefits include the overall improvement of the area and provision of improved houses and other community facilities not forgetting the development of capital investment by the government. The price for this kind of development is mainly the displacement of people and breakdown of communities as discussed, but regenerate a phenomenon of communities for existing residents in Robin Hood Gardens.

References

Archibugi, F, 2004. Rome: A New Planning Strategy. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Butler, T & Lees, R 2006, Super-gentrification in Barnsbury, London: globalisation and gentrifying global elites at the neighbourhood level, viewed 14 December 2014, http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/geography/people/academic/butler/SupergentrificationinBarnsbury.pdf>.

Colin Wiles. 2014. Affordable housing does not mean what you think it means. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/feb/03/affordable-housing-meaning-rent-social-housing. [Accessed 18 December 14].

Forrest, R & Kearns, A 2001, Social cohesion, social capital and the neighbourhood, Journal of Urban Studies. Vol. 38 no. 12, pp. 2115-2143.

Freeman, L 2006, There goes the ‘hood: views of gentrification from the ground up.Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

Glass, R, 1964. London: Aspects of Change.. 1st ed. London: London.

Hackworth, J 2002, “Post-recession gentrification in New York City.” Journal of Urban Affairs Review, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 815-843. 

Hamnett, C 2003, Gentrification and the middle class remaking of inner London, 1961– 2001. Journal of Urban Studies, vol. 40, no. 12 pp. 2401–26.

Lees, L. 2014. An Anti-Gentrification Handbook for Council Estates in London. [ONLINE] Available at: https://southwarknotes.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/staying-put-web-version.pdf. [Accessed 18 December 14].

Lees, L 2000, “A re-appraisal of gentrification: towards a geography of gentrification” Progress in Human Geography, vol. 24, pp. 389-408

Ley, D 1996, The New middle class and the remaking of the central city. Oxford, University Press.

Minton, A. (2012) Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the 21st century city. Penguin

Owen Hatherley. 2011. After the Heygate estate, a grey future awaits. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/08/heygate-estate-housing-gentrification. [Accessed 18 December 14].

Parkins, H & Smith, C, 1998. Trade, Traders and the Ancient City. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Phillips, M 2004, “Other geographies of gentrification”Progress in Human Geography, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 309-336.

Slater, T 2004,“Municipally managed gentrification in South Parkdale, Toronto”. The Canadian Geographer, vol. 48, pp. 303-325.

Smith, N 2002, New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy.

Antipode, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 427–50

The Architecture Review. (2014). Robin Hood Gardens: Requiem For A Dream. [Online Video]. 10 November. Available from: http://www.architectural-review.com/videos/robin-hood-gardens-requiem-for-a-dream/8672120.article?blocktitle=Videos&contentID=11000. [Accessed: 18 December 2014]

London Borough of Tower Hamlets. 2014. Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blackwallreach.co.uk/. [Accessed 18 December 14]

W3 – Draft Abstract

Social housing has long been and still is very significant in providing affordable homes for people in the UK. They consist of local authority public housing and housing association homes that are non-profit oriented and offer accommodation to millions of UK citizens. Much has changed in the past few years, since most social housing programs have been redirected to private sectors for profit development and ownership of rental housing. Large-scale demolitions and redevelopment to create estates has taken place and in some cases there has been no replacement of low-income houses, leaving residents facing evictions, displacement and losing their neighborhood. This imposes huge negative impacts on the affected people, since homes and neighborhoods are essential in shaping a household’s social and economic well-being. Regeneration of these houses means the replacement of some old, decaying and dilapidated houses with more modern and efficient houses. However private developers create privately developed and owned estates and opt out of subsidy programs, thus converting the housing to market-rate and making it unaffordable for low and medium income earners.

UK policies have undermined the public housing sector. The millions of social houses that once existed have been sold out and not replaced, while others have been labeled for regeneration and refurbishment. Some evicted tenants have found themselves in houses that are so expensive with such high rates of insecurity in privately owned houses, while others have moved far from London to areas such as Newcastle. Communities affected by the restructuring require adequate support mechanisms to help them cope with the changes, and compensations offered for evictions are normally much below the market rate. Government officials support these for market led redevelopment agendas, despite the fact that large sums of public funding in terms of land and resources are being drained away from public housing into private housing developments.

Very remarkable regeneration projects throughout the country have involved a huge wealth transfer from the public sector to the private sector without necessarily having any tangible return to the community. The government is depending on private developers to build more profitable and efficient houses to solve the housing crisis, but they do not build public houses that most people could afford. If the housing market is not regulated, it does not solve the dire need for housing; instead it will help amass wealth for a few individuals and companies at the expense of the majority of the population. Rent controls are needed, since tenants also need better rights and securities.

W2 – Sustainable Development

I find it hard to define ‘sustainable development’ that consists of a social, economic and environmental framework in which requires improvements within human interactions, but heavily interpreted by politicians, academics and journalists in a positive and negative context. In terms of this concept, sustainable development is an elaboration that encounters the requirements of the current without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland, 1987). However, in Chapter Two, ‘Privatizing London’, Anna Minton described sustainable development as a method that promotes less emphasize on improving its existing infrastructure with ‘an increasing consumption of environmental resources’ (Imrie and Lees, 2014:29). Overall, this reflects upon the use of sustainable development in a situation that involves political and social issues.

The political terminology of this concept seemed to be a fashionable statement to promote innovative ways to encourage local communities to understand the term, but restricted to be self-conscious of the environment than social and economic infrastructure. Minton stated a camouflage strategy from the government to promote sustainable development as an environment opportunity, but really, it is based on building private properties (Imrie and Lees, 2014:29). Politicians have a way to misinterpret information for the public to read that seemed valuable but failed to enhance its specific details as to the benefits of an economic success for themselves rather than the local communities.

The term is heavily discredited due to how politicians and developers explain its theory model without practice in an incompetent approach that has less effect on changing the quality of growth and critically analyzing ways to give a better social and economic environment. Its economic and social development can commonly strengthening that focus on how education and health can raise human productivity (Bruntland, 1987, p.41). In addition, this enforces economic developments to accelerate social development by providing opportunities for low-income families and individuals by providing diverse education and employment.

It is problematic to reclaim the term based on how we define the term that does associate with the government, but have our own interpretation from social and economic experience.  The government will find it easy to use a political tool to explain the context of sustainable development, as the public have suffered from social and economic injustice. The editors in ‘Privatizing London’ referenced design theorist and philosopher, Tony Fry determined to create a relationship between design, sustainability, and politics that needs to be refined as ‘sustainment’ (Imrie and Lees, 2014:40). In support, this deepens the issue of wider responsibilities from politicians to make decision that promotes health and education for future generations in terms of creating an environmental product.

I will not defined this as ‘sustainable development’, but maybe this is related to the concept of a ‘cultural transformation’ as an individual with its own cultural philosophy and political knowledge to promote a systemic approach to change its existing social and economic infrastructure to benefit the community as a whole to renovate a better environment.

References

Brundtland, C. (1987). United Nations Documents. Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development. Retrieved from http://www.un-documents.net/ocf-02.htm

Imrie, R., & Lees, L. (2014). Sustainable London? The Future of a Global City. New York: McGraw-Hill.