Londonomics: The G-spots

M@
By M@ Last edited 122 months ago
Londonomics: The G-spots
gentrification

There’s nothing like an outing to Hackney to start the mind whirring about gentrification. And we can think of no surer way to start an argument than to wander into an unreformed East End boozer enthusing about all the new construction and upscale shops popping up in the neighbourhood.

The term gentrification was actually born in Islington. It was coined in the 60s by sociologist Ruth Glass, who noticed the phenomenon of middle-class people buying houses in working-class areas and doing them up.

It goes something like this: the painters and installation artists move in first, when there’s nary a pannini in sight. Next come a few stray journalists and filmmakers, who through virtue of their media jobs are able to talk the place up to a wide audience. Soon the place is wall-to-wall solicitors, boutiques and baby buggies, and anyone with a local accent has been shipped at least three tube stops away.

Of course this is vastly simplified. The poorer people in the area don’t just leave - often they stay in the same area (witness Islington), and just find it a lot more difficult to get affordable housing. And it’s not all sweetness and light in the newly gentrified postcode; the higher population density and sudden wealth inequality can bring completely new social problems.

On the other hand, some locals certainly make good from the deal - new people with money are a business opportunity, and they can drive up stagnating house prices. And it should also be noted that a lot of the time, the people who rail against gentrification aren’t working class - instead they’re the first middle-class wave who see their neighbourhoods becoming progressively less affordable - the gentrifiers against gentrification.

All in all it’s a confusing and an emotive issue that belies simple explanation - much less solution - in even a longish blog post. But let’s turn it over to you - where have you seen gentrification, and what do you think about it?

By Mike W

Image from Ricoeurian's Flickr photostream.

Last Updated 04 March 2008

ChairmanMeow

The socioeconomics of areas of London has been since records began and not always in one direction(i.e. in Tudor times, Homerton (according to Wikipedia) was a really sought after area - granted it's lovely now but wouldn't be first choice for the gentry!). However, it's fair to say as London has gone from strength to strength as a World city, the 'gentrification' process has engulfed areas that weren't historically on the radar for certain folk. I think that this sprawl is an inevitability as people are priced out of other areas and demand to live in London continues to spiral (and transport links make other areas viable), however what we need to stamp out is this 'identity-kit' culture that is being used by planners and developers. Do we want all streets to be the same aesthetically and lined with the same stores? The vagaries of London and the history that they unveil is the legacy for our children and our children's children - we need to ensure that this is secured and restored where necessary and not sacrificed for the sake of pleasing yuppies who want a Snow & Rock or Pret on their doorstep. We live in Hackney and as a mantra, support all local business and avoid any chainstores, because we want to maintain a vibrant, independent community (what's left) and not live in some androgynous generic hole. Loyalty cards? I think the best loyalty card is actually knowing the name of who runs your local pub/greasy spoon and vice versa, not getting a free packet of quavers for every £1001 you spend. rant over.

Dave

Mr Chairman - your point was well-made, right up to the point that you used the phrase 'yuppies'. Then it became apparent that you are in fact Neil Kinnock, circa 1987...