London’s ‘regeneration game’ kicks off with ‘the promise’.
London council leaders and regeneration chiefs promise local working people on average and lower incomes that developer-led regeneration schemes will ‘deliver’:
- new and affordable homes
- jobs for local people
- enhanced infrastructure
- and, accessible open spaces.
Elected councillors tell local people their council will secure such ‘planning gains’, chiefly by invoking Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.
Naturally, many local people resist change and oppose developer-led regeneration.
Hence, in some instances, the ‘regeneration promise’ comes wrapped inside a ‘denigration’ narrative.
A traditionally working class neighbourhood and an entire local population are accorded a media-fuelled reputation for crime and dubious lifestyles, even if that narrative exaggerates and even falsifies the true picture.
Media-amplified denigration greases the rails for ‘regeneration’.
‘Partnerships’ follow. Encouraged by appointed local council officers, local councillors formally invite developers to become formal ‘development partners’ with the local authority.
‘Public consultation’ on the actual development proposals follows.
Proposals often involve the replacement of existing public and private homes and businesses with new luxury private apartments.
A net loss of council homes typifies such schemes.
Right to return
Existing residents and traders directly affected by a regeneration scheme are sometimes offered an alluring guarantee of a ‘right to return’ to the new development after construction.
But this right can often expire well before new buildings are completed. Existing residents and traders are practically unable to move away and then move back.
Much bitter opposition to regeneration schemes comes from local people who feel their elected politicians cynically fail to keep a promise to provide them with new homes in the regeneration area.
They say developer-led regeneration destroys decent homes that need repair and refurbishment not demolition and redevelopment.
Displacement and social cleansing
Developer-led regeneration, say local people, tears asunder long-established London family and social networks.
Developer-led regeneration, they say, means Londoners have to move permanently from traditional London neighbourhoods where their families have lived for generations.
Regeneration led by developers, rubber-stamped by ambitious local politicians, inevitably causes the displacement of Londoners from London.
Developer-led regeneration in London, they say, is ‘social cleansing’.
© London Intelligence 2014