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Old February 3rd, 2013, 12:20 AM   #1
Bowater
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Gentrification - Transforming London

Im surprised there's not already a thread on this subject given its power to completely transform the street-scape, socio-economic and ethnic make up of vast swaths of London.

Gentrification is creating entirely new neighbourhoods of terrace houses and apartments out of former landscapes of sub divided houses (flats). High streets and pubs are-a-changing.

So how about some opinions and before & after pictures!
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 12:23 AM   #2
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Wandsworth is certainly undergoing gentrification.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 12:24 AM   #3
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Article here on de-gentrification in London: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/...the-world.html

Last edited by Bowater; February 4th, 2013 at 03:22 PM.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 04:34 AM   #4
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There has always been flux. Recently inner London has become wealthier. Some inner London areas were wealthy, then became poor throughout the 20th century before changing again over the past couple of decades. Some outer London suburbs became wealthier after ww2 and the policy of de-populating central London, and have declined over the past 10-20 years. Areas I know well in outer S and SE London have declined a lot over the years. Lots of amenities are lacking. E.g trying to find good shops, restaurants, venues for live music etc are difficult, when there were more in previous decades. A place like Woolwich is a prime example of this.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:25 AM   #5
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An article on gentrification: http://members.multimania.co.uk/gent...hatisgent.html
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:27 AM   #6
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My own view is that London is finally beginning to follow the European model (e.g. Paris) of the wealthy part in the centre surrounded by a poor ring. This is the opposite of the usual UK/US model of the wealthy suburbs and poor inner city.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDN_EUROPE View Post
My own view is that London is finally beginning to follow the European model (e.g. Paris) of the wealthy part in the centre surrounded by a poor ring. This is the opposite of the usual UK/US model of the wealthy suburbs and poor inner city.
It would take some time for the 'posh' South West boroughs to become poor! But I get your point, the sheer value of property in the central zone is staggering.

I wonder if a circle, 10 miles in radius around Trafalgar Square would contain the most valuable plot of land on the planet?
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 12:49 PM   #8
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That Aldgate one was the first thing that sprang to mind when I read the thread title
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 01:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDN_EUROPE View Post
My own view is that London is finally beginning to follow the European model (e.g. Paris) of the wealthy part in the centre surrounded by a poor ring. This is the opposite of the usual UK/US model of the wealthy suburbs and poor inner city.
Interesting article by the way.

I think you are right in your point but it also seems a lot of people feel this is a negative trend. The argument goes that poorer people should keep a presence in the middle of the city by means of subsidy (housing benefit and council housing) so that rich people can feel better...?

However if you are 'poor' then it does not make sense to live where the cost of living is high, and job opportunities for your skills are low. It makes more sense to live outside of London where your income will buy you more. Not to mention that Victorian housing stock is expensive to maintain.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:05 PM   #10
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Prior to the 90's gentrification was a slow process and was originally based in the most central areas. Remember London was depopulating till in the 1980's.

So for most of that time some areas gained others lost. Before the War Places like Kensington were not out reach of the ordinary upper middles classes. So neighbourhoods that had rich areas in the 18th or 19th centuries and had not suffered too much 'urban renewal' became the targets of the early pioneers. Islington, Pimlico, parts of Fulham and Nottinghill are the best examples. Meanwhile once prosperous inner town centres such as Woolwich, Lewisham, Streatham began their slide.

With the turnaround of London's economy and population figures we see an acceleration of this trend. It's hard to remember but while there used to be full trains before, the peaks were shorter and getting around town outside of rushhour used to be easy. Seek out old films set in London in 70's or 80's just see how few parked cars there especially in the suburbs. Just watch the traffic glide around, compare it to the shuffle and clog of today. The tube was not that busy either outside of the rush.

So as the cities population grew again and traffic got worse, people fled back to the centre to reduce there commute, plus a lot of the worst pollution was over and thecity was sprucing itself up. The growth of it's international profile meant that the centre was more than a larger version of the surrounding suburban towns. In other words London's big city buzz was growing ever stronger. Big city living seemed ever more attractive.

As for London's suburbs. Well they'll never be cheap and be abandoned wasteland unlike some Northern cities estates. But some will continue to slide.

The suburbs that were built for the wealthy will pretty much remain so, they still have big houses, pretty town centres and large parks and golf courses.

The suburbs of terraces and small semis, will have a more mixed future. Those that were next to major roads began there slide in the 80's, as who wanted to live next to all that pollution? Others have seen their reputations slide and their town centres weaken. I doubt we will see widespread dereliction in the suburbs.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
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My own view is that London is finally beginning to follow the European model.
What a strange choice of words. This is something people on here used as a stick to beat Paris with. City is for everyone, which is why we need to create more mixed-income communities. It all boils down to what kind of society you want.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:20 PM   #12
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Attended a very interesting lecture on gentrification last autumn held by Tom Slater. He has written books and articles on the matter, and he also has a webiste: http://members.multimania.co.uk/gentrification/
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:53 PM   #13
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I'd say that Woolwich is undergoing a bit of gentrification at the moment. Crossrail could really speed things up there as well.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 03:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I'd say that Woolwich is undergoing a bit of gentrification at the moment. Crossrail could really speed things up there as well.
Woolwich town centre has transformed itself within as little as 5 years, the scale and pace is impressive. I once thought no amount of money could turn the place around - not only is it turning, it's even beginning to acquire a 'good vibe'. So for anyone reading this with recollections of Woolwich as an open sewer, I urge you to get on down there and see the transformation.

There's a similar renaissance going on in the Lewisham/Greenwich corridor, and as pointed out it's down to the improved transport links. Suburbs once grew along the railways, and in the same way gentrification is following the improved transport intersections. Most of this so far is thanks to the DLR, the impact of Crossrail could be massive.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDN_EUROPE View Post
My own view is that London is finally beginning to follow the European model (e.g. Paris) of the wealthy part in the centre surrounded by a poor ring. This is the opposite of the usual UK/US model of the wealthy suburbs and poor inner city.
Hmmm, not sure tbh. London has always been more of a patchwork than a city of circles if we're talking socio-economically. Whole swathes of inner West, NW and SW London have long been homes for the wealthy, if not the super rich hubs they were now. Feltham, Thamesmead and other outer London areas have long been strongly working-to-lower-middle class.

A lot of this is because council housing was done at the level of boroughs, as well as a very common form of housing, meaning there was a relatively even spread of such accommodation. In contrast, I remember reading how in Il-de-France just one Department (out of 8) was responsible for 40% of social housing in the Paris region (was a BBC article iirc) This also partly explains the lack of large mono-ethnic/racial ghettos compared to the US.

What's probably stopping London's outer third or so becoming home to poor and lower-income groups is the absurd price of housing, meaning relatively well-earning middle class people have to look around zones 4-5 for good housing, plus schools if they're families. For the time being the city will stay a patchwork.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 06:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
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I'd say that Woolwich is undergoing a bit of gentrification at the moment. Crossrail could really speed things up there as well.
Yes compared to where it was 5 - 10 years ago it is better, when it was truly awful. However it is nothing compared to where it was 20 years + ago. Things are sloooowly improving, and a forthcoming new pub from the Antic group in the old Woolwich building is a positive sign. The idea of having decent live music venues, good nightlife, a cinema, varied quality restaurants etc is still a long way off. The efforts of a small theatre/cinema recently opened near the town hall is a laudable attempt at improvement.

There are still rotten, crumbling, neglected buildings all over the town centre. However, it does have some fantastic buildings that with renovation will really help the place. There are still 1-2 bed flats for less than 100k.

Also in SE london I was recently in Bexleyheath town centre at 8pm on a Friday night. Surprised me how dead and bleak it was. Hoodies everywhere, a couple of confrontations going on, with the only place open a Mcdonalds and wetherspoons. Not that it was great 10 years ago but now awful for a big town centre on a weekend evening.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:11 PM   #17
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What are people's opinions on the gentrification of soho? Do you really long to keep the gritty and somewhat dingy character of the place, or will the place be better off with a general tidy up?
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:40 PM   #18
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When Paul Raymond died he owned about a third of Soho, IIRC. I don't know what his grand-daughters plan to do.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:47 PM   #19
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I'm not sure I'd say Soho is gritty nor particularly dinghy, now. Maybe twenty-five years ago, but the only places I see remnants of that era is around the Berwick Street/Rupert Street/Brewer Street junction and even then that is a shadow if its former self. Berwick Street needs a good clean, the sixties development parallel to the market wouldn't be an unwelcome loss nor some of the grimier slum-like shops on the other side. One of the corner sections here got replaced recently and positively shines as a beacon of where the area is heading.

I actually find Chinatown or at least Gerrard Street dingier, especially around the eastern end. Lisle Street used to be, but making that shared space along with that end of Wardour Street has been a godsend to that backstreet, sandwiched between Leicester Square and the colour of Shaftesbury Avenue.

I think people tend to forget how awful parts of central London were up until at least a couple of decades ago. Fitzrovia was ripe with slums, Spitalfields, Camden none of which were particularly salubrious parts of town at night. I can't say there's anywhere within the West end zone 1 I'd be scared of walking around at night nowadays. Still a few back alleys in certain places that aren't particularly wholesome though, usually the side of hotels. The stretch between the Embankment and the Strand springs to mind.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:56 PM   #20
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Spitalfields is the tectonic plates of the City muscling. I miss the old hippy market, but The City is creeping down Bethnal Green Road. Shoreditch is stranger, it was a nothing part of London until about 1995, the YBAs, Gilbert and George. Now it's ultra-trendy with loft conversions and converted factories, 2 beds half a mil.
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