‘One by one, many of the 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 are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed.’
No, this isn’t written about London in 2015.
Urban sociologist Ruth Glass wrote this about London in 1964.
In the book, London: Aspects of Change’,* Glass inserted ‘gentrification’ into London’s urban vocabulary.
To some observers, Glass’ description remains brutally apt for 21st Century London.
To others, ‘gentrification’ – where middle class people cheaply buy and renovate rundown properties – seems far too gentle.
They say ‘social engineering’ continues to eclipse ‘gentrification’.
By social engineering, they mean a process where property developers and local politicians – key elements of London’s ‘market state’ – systematically dispossess and displace working class people from their traditional homes and neighbourhoods in virtually every London borough.
Local councils sell public land and council homes to developers.
Developers refurbish or demolish these homes and sell new luxury apartments to High Net Worth Individuals and global property speculators.
‘Market state’ politicians throw in a low percentage of ‘affordable’ homes for sale and rent to massage public stress over massively inflated housing costs.
But these ‘affordable’ homes remain unaffordable to Londoners on average and lower incomes.
Only people earning £60,000 a year – the salary of a primary school headteacher – can qualify for an ‘affordable home’.
And, in early 2015, some London local authorities begin to tell developers new schemes must include more genuinely affordable homes for private rent – so that Londoners can afford to live in these ‘new neighbourhoods’.
* Glass, Ruth: London, Aspects of Change, University College London, Centre for Urban Studies, MacGibbon & Kee, London, 1964.
© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence 2015