Preamble and context
Before I start, I wanted to mention briefly that I have come under attack for my opinions: for not supporting high-rise, for pretending to be middle-class, for not understanding the issues that face long-standing residents and for not relating to new people who move in to the area. And is nonsense – please get to know me and my politics before you make remarks like these.
Coming under attack is one part of the politics we see today, though I wish it was more about representing and creating positive changes instead of spending all that time to attack or to be aggressive with people until they submit to your opinion.
Regeneration is one of the best things that can happen to an area that is in economic poverty. What is not cool is the displacement that a badly thought out regeneration strategy causes and caters for only one type of person, those who have a little bit more disposable income, who are property developers looking to make a buck or those who have a higher education. We can call this homogenisation of an area gentrification.
The definition of gentrification is the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of low-income residents). It doesn’t have to be this way.
For me, it boils down to bad regeneration strategies, and the Council thinks that the only way to ‘lift people out of poverty’ is through investment in property, is through getting more people to move in to Hackney who have more money and to cater for an influx of new people whilst seemingly ignoring those that have lived here for generations. It’s a short-sighted objective.
People who are displaced in these areas DO NOT move out of Hackney, instead, they move in to homes that are of poorer quality for more money, alternatively, they move in to extended family homes, causing more overcrowding in a borough that has above average overcrowding rates.
On the property developers and investors
There is money to be made in run-down area by displacing ‘the poor people’ who have their communities in such areas. It makes me angry that there are guides for this sort of exploitation – and if you are a property developer/investor and would like to exploit money from people who are living in poverty in run-down areas, here are a few hints and tips of what to look out for from this global property investment company.
On the frictions between new residents and long-standing residents
The sort of regeneration we see in Hackney is purely gentrification – it is the economic and cultural restructuring of an area, rather than welcoming both new and old residents or in the facilitation of cultural exchanges both parties have to offer. Most importantly, regeneration should really be about lifting everyone out of poverty in the area whilst welcoming people who are that bit better off to add economic diversity rather than the displacement that we are seeing.
This causes a rift between the new and old in Hackney. There is mutual resentment from both sides. Whether you see it or not, whether you admit it or not, it exists.
Well how do you get new and old to mix? Listen, if you are a new resident, introduce yourself to your neighbours. If you are a long-standing resident, welcome new residents in to the TRA.
Even better, start a community garden – minimum investment, but one in which residents from all backgrounds can get involved in.
I admit there is a missing link and it is not your fault – it is the short-sightedness of our elected officials in the Council.
On who makes decisions
It’s not us – but we can. If we want to make a difference, get together and go to these new ward forums and have your concerns heard, let’s speak to each other and see what common ground we have, let’s make objections to planning policies and let’s do our best to make sure that the Council is held to account.
But I don’t know how?
That’s because the systems in place are the most bureaucratic and not the easiest form of getting your voice heard. It reminds me of the Vogons from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Joking aside, get in touch with me and we’ll find a way.
On the solutions
Regeneration, gentrification and planning strategy broadly falls in to planning and housing themes and ties in to the ‘Housing Justice’ campaign we’re launching in November. To get involved, please e-mail me on email@example.com or call 07446135495.