Gentrification

Neighbourhood predators

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Gentrification is often described as a tale of David and Goliath where local residents and local businesses struggle to keep their heads above water against a rising tide of global corporate chain stores and heartless property developers.

It is the ground offensive in capitalism’s war on the poor, a street by street up-marketisation of shop fronts, housing, public space, goods and services. It is market speculation and commodity trading in culture and community that drives inequality and class segregation.

Creating cities without imagination

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New Labour placed great emphasis on urban regeneration, but with deeply conflicting results. Owen Hatherley spoke to Alan Kenny and Jack Farmer about his new book and Britain's ruinous architecture.


Owen Hatherley

How did growing up in Southampton affect your view of architecture?

Urban Inspiration

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"The rich may have to live in gated communities while the poor roam the world outside those few enclaves," said Branko Milanovic from the Development Research Group at the World Bank in 2002. Taking a visit to any major city in Britain will show you this process in action.

This process is particularly acute in East London as the City bonuses continue to soar, and the Olympic juggernaut comes closer. While little social housing is built, everyday it seems that a new luxury gated development goes up alongside the council estates and run down markets and shopping streets. With names like "Tequila Wharf", "Zenith e14" or "2N1" and facilities such as private cinemas, all encased while building work goes on, in bright hoardings, where young professionals smile down on us, flushed with success.

A Clean Sweep

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"Slum clearance" often means attacks on the poor

The world's dark forces seem obsessed with urban hygiene these days. France's minister for truncheons and teargas, Nicolas Sarkozy, denounced the 'scum' (racaille) in Paris's suburban ghettoes and promised to use a big hose 'to clean them out'. While bloated bodies were still floating in the flooded streets of New Orleans' black neighbourhoods, a Republican congressman thanked god for 'finally cleaning out the housing projects'.

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