Imagined Theories vs Felt Realities in the Gentrification process of Dalston and Brixton:
1- Theories on Gentrification:
‘One of the reasons that stage models of gentrification were developed was to cope with the temporal variations in gentrification that were already apparent in the 1970s. Gentrification stage models were designed to represent gentrification in an orderly, temporal, sequential progression.’ (Loretta Lee, the birth of gentrification)
‘Gentrification in a nutshell: real pain of gentrification resides – the refurbishment that become de facto mass purging of poor residents, the choking off of the supply of social housing since the 1980’sm the granting of planning permission to new luxury blocks, the cynical redefining of ‘affordable housing’ to mean anything up to 80% of market rate (used to be 50%), developers buying their way out of their legal requirements to build affordable housing by paying cash to struggling councils, the eviction of poor families, most often people of colour or people with less fluent English’ (Dan Hancox, Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime (p. 234))
– ‘Glass identified gentrification as a complex urban process that included the rehabilitation of old housing stock, tenurial transformation from renting to owning, property price increases, and the displacement of working-class residents by the incoming middle classes.’ (Loretta Lee, the birth of gentrification)
– ‘the process by which working class residential neighbourhoods are rehabilitated by middle class homebuyers, landlords and professional developers’
-Redevelopment ≠ Gentrification: ‘Redevelopment involves not rehabilitation of old structures but the construction of new buildings on previously developed land.’
-Hamnett and Randolph’s (1986) ‘value gap thesis’:
-emphasizes the political and institutional context shaping the actions of developers, landlords, buyers, and renters in central London at this time. It was the ‘value gap’ (the relationship between a building’s tenanted investment value and its vacant possession value, the former being a measure of the rented building’s annual rental income, and the latter a measure of the property’s future sale price when it is converted into owner-occupation—the landlord sells off the building when the gap widened sufficiently) and its attendant tenurial transformation that was the main producer – (Loretta Lee, The birth of Gentrification)
-‘the private landlords, who were to profit from the flat break-up in central London after 1966, when private rented flats were sold into owner occupation and gentrification’
-Rachmanism, and landlords taking advantages of lower classes.
– ‘She says that gentrification is a process by which higher income/status people relocate/invest in low income urban neighbourhoods (which have typically been disinvested in by the public and private sector) typically to make the most of low property values, but by doing so they typically inflate property values, displace low income people and alter the culture and character of the neighbourhood.’ (Jake Glasmacher)
-Tom Slater – Gentrification of the City (From Jake Glasmacher’s notes)
-Smith and William debate over gentrification
-Production Perspective : ‘emphasises the role of capital and its institutional agents in creating gentrifiable spaces.’ VS Consumption Perspective : ‘a consequence of the uneven investment of capital in certain land uses, its devaluation through use and systematic disinvestment, and the opportunities for profitable reinvestment created by these capital flows
-The new middle class: ‘Gentrifiers view living in the central city as “a mark of distinction in the constitution of an identity separate from the constellation of place and identity shaped by the suburbs – Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural Habitus.
-The Costs of Gentrification: Displacement
(+ Cultural consequences, Artists are affected, Community sense impacted, Social Enclaves built…)
-Loretta Lees: – The Birth of Gentrification
-Classical gentrification (original term used by Ruth Glass): ‘disinvested inner-city neighborhoods are upgraded by pioneer gentrifiers and the indigenous residents are displaced. Working-class housing becomes middle-class housing.’
-When did gentrification start in London?
-Post-War reconstruction (Brutalism, Blocks, Internalization of the City of London…)
Ex: Abercrombie Greater London Plan (1944) / New Town Development Act (1952)
-The 1969 Housing Act (‘The act provided local authorities with the power to allocate discretionary improvement grants.’ / ‘As the grants had to be met pound for pound by the improver, they automatically favored the more well-off improver or developer and aided the gentrification process’
-The theory of the Gentrification process as following stages:
-Early Stage Model (1970-80’s) – ‘explain the process and predict the future course of gentrification mirrored Glass’s definition of classical gentrification’
-Stage 1: Group of people move in and renovate properties for own use.
No displacement yet, vacant housing taken or part of market.
Artists or people having skills to undertake renovation
Small areas concerned
-Stage 2: More people move in and fix properties for own use.
Capital for investors scarce, only a few may renovate for resale.
Promotional activities, some displacement, media interest in area, neighborhood’s name may change, Renovation spreads…
-Stage 3: Focus of media on area – Urban renewal and developpers move in
Individual investors may renovate for own use still.
Prices escalates, physical improvement more visible
Displacement continues and may increase
Middle-class residents freshly arrived: housing as investment and place to live
Demand for public resources and promotion of area
Tension between local and gentry emerge
Police activity – reduce crime
Bank interest: reinvestment and loans to mid-class
-Stage 4: Mid-class moving in, Business and managerial middle-class
Measures to reinforce the private investment taking place (public controls…)
Buildings appear on market (speculation)
Commercial activities emerge
Price rise àDisplacement intensified, concerning renter and owners
New neighborhoods concerned to supply demand of mid-class
-‘formulated a classic gentrification model that underlined class and status distinctions between old and new residents in a gentrifying neighborhood. Gale’s model of classical gentrification emphasized population change in terms of the displacement of former working-class residents.’ (Loretta Lee, The birth of gentrification)
-The Gentrifier Type :
-Late twenties or thirties adults, childless, numbering 1 or 2 by household
-Educated, professional or managerial
-The Gentrifier Type by Loretta Lee:
‘The pioneer gentrifier works in the cultural professions, is risk oblivious, wants to pursue a nonconformist lifestyle, wants a socially mixed environment, and rehabilitates his or her property using sweat equity. Then more risk-conscious mainstream professionals move in, some with young families. Realtors and developers start to show an interest, and as property prices increase the original residents might be pushed out. Over time, older and more affluent and conservative households move in, attracted to what is now a safe investment. Eventually, gentrification is seen to stabilize at an endpoint of mature gentrification.’
-One of the first to question the conceptualization of gentrification and its process:
-She ‘criticized stage models for lumping together different processes and effects; she preferred to see gentrification as a ‘chaotic concept’ in which different actors, housing tenures, motives, and allegiances coexisted. For Rose, ‘the terms “gentrification” and “gentrifiers” … are “chaotic conceptions” which obscure the fact that a multiplicity of processes, rather than a single causal process, produce changes in the occupation of inner-city neighbourhoods from the lower to higher income residents’ (Loretta Lee, The birth of gentrification)
-Dan Hancox – Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime (London: William Collins, 2018)
-Is Gentrification inevitable?
-‘Urban change is not like the weather, and gentrification is not organic, inevitable and natural.’
-When did Gentrification start? Who planned it?
-2000’s and New Labour government’s (Ken Livingstone elected Mayor, Tony Blair’s government): urban regeneration plans hatched to ‘make the inner city the engine of bourgeois modernity, cosmopolitan culture and aspiration – the New Labour project’
-The LDDC ‘was the flagship of the hyper-gentrification that would follow across British cities, legitimizing New Labour’s urban renaissance, of which renovating and demolishing of council estates was also a vital part’
-1991 One Canda Square completed – ‘A bankers’ skyscrapers that watched over the grime kids’
-New Labour Urban Task Force (1998)– ‘promote a lasting urban renaissance to stem urban decline’
-Richard Rogers appointed architect – 1999 report Towards an Urban Renaissance
-The New Deal (1998) – Aiming to reduce unemployment, which actually ‘made it much harder for artists to live on the dole while honing and improving their craft’
-What aim the gentrification targeted?
-Gentrification – ‘would create new neighbourhoods with a mix of tenures and incomes, including opening up council housing to more of the population’
-Through what means was it implemented?
-Faster Compulsory Purchase Orders – to get people out of the blocks they wanted to demolish.
-Plan to use estate renewal using private finance initiative
-The consequences of Gentrification:
-Tensions, Protests, Displacements, Rise in prices…
-‘urban regeneration is almost always a zero-sum game: for some people to ‘come back’ to the inner city, others have to leave’
-Social enclaves: ‘gated communities had proliferated in east London around the turn of the millennium, especially in developments aimed at the wealthy new arrivals working in the City of London or Canary Wharf’ – Lack of integration and interaction with local communities
-Cultural impacts: ‘Artwash on iconic blocks by council, Legendary record shops replaced with boutique coffee shops, Blocks replaced by luxury flats…’
-Cut in funding: no youth clubs, activities…
-Wiley: ‘the market culture of the Roman Road had weakened considerably as a community hub. That market culture was massive. The difference today is people go to flipping Westfield or Bluewater’
-‘Working-class people were being decanted from the estates of inner London in the name of urban renaissance’
– ‘[ …] the urban renaissance is also making life harder for those who remain, in the inner city’s increasingly isolated social-housing blocks
– ‘With this process – not to mention Tory cuts to benefits, youth services and the removal of EMA – has come a further narrowing of opportunities and horizons for young people from poor backgrounds, and a further intensification of postcode wars, youth violence and territorialism’
-The areas concerned : neighborhood nationalism, consequences and causes
-Sociologist Les Back – ‘neighbourhood nationalism: a positive identification with the local area and the people in it, one that often transcended racial divisions, sharing slang and culture, to create a sense of civic harmony, even while racism and hostility remained commonplace in the city and the nation at large– the idea that ‘if you’re local, you’re all right’.
-‘The consequence of neighborhood nationalism, of outward pride and inward claustrophobia, was that anything beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood felt at best an alien landscape, and at worst like enemy territory’
-Lack of money to travel, confined in an area – London public transport most expensive in world
-‘While capital must be allowed to move around the world unhindered by the state, the same freedom does not apply to poor people in the west’s ‘global cities’’