Why tens of thousands are being forced out of London

Posted by ngi2 at Jul 06, 2016 10:00 AM |
Gentrification, displacement and the impacts of council estate renewal in 21st century London to be investigated by University of Leicester geographer

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 6 July 2016

Download a photograph of Professor Loretta Lees from http://bit.ly/28YDupZ:

See Professor Lees’ TEDx Brixton talk “Gentrification and what can be done to stop it” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMz1x5_yF2Q

A new study into the effects of gentrification is to be investigated by a University of Leicester social scientist.

Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester, will be the Principal Investigator of the research project. She’ll be working with Co-Investigators Dr Nick Tate (Leicester) and Professor Phil Hubbard (Kent).

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), this new research will look at the impact of displacement from council estates in London on the tenants themselves as well as on the sites of relocation that they eventually move to.

The project has three main aims, to:

  • Quantitatively measure and map the extent, location, and kinds of neighbourhood-level social change and displacement associated with estate renewal and more general gentrification in London.
  • Generate a historical inventory of all council estate renewal proposals, plans, and final outcomes, to assess their aggregate impact on housing stocks and the availability of social housing in Greater London.
  • Assess the impacts of estate renewal programmes on pre-existing council estate residents, the communities across the South East (and beyond) to which they are being displaced, and the new ‘mixed’ communities emerging as a result of estate renewal projects.

Speaking at TEDx Brixton, Professor Lees said: “Gentrification is not a boost for everyone.

“The overwhelming evidence from over now 50 years of academic and policy research on gentrification is that overall, it’s a negative not a positive thing. The costs outweigh the benefits.”

She added: “The gentrification that I think is most critical and most important at the moment is the gentrification of council estates.

“Council estates are one of the last barriers to almost complete gentrification of inner London and once they’ve gone, we’ve lost.”

Often stigmatised as sites of concentrated social dysfunction, council estates are also coveted for their untapped redevelopment potential. Urban scholars like Professor Lees have challenged the idea of estate renewal as “gentrification by stealth”, intended to privatise social housing and socially cleanse the inner city of low-income communities.

Professor Lees, who is an international expert on urban regeneration, believes that these kinds of developments lead to the exact opposite of what these policies are sold as: “When council estates are redeveloped as mixed income communities, when the middle classes are about to move in, the lower classes are moved out. They’re displaced, so what you get is not social mixing…what you get is gentrification and social segregation.”

You can watch Professor Lees TEDx talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMz1x5_yF2Q


Note to Editors

  • For further information and interviews, contact Professor Loretta Lees on +44 (0)116 252 3842 or email loretta.lees@le.ac.uk.
  • Loretta Lees is a Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester. Details of Professor Lees’ recent books, including “Planetary Gentrification”, “Global Gentrifications: uneven development and displacement” and “Sustainable London? The future of a global city” are available here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/geography/people/professor-loretta-lees-1.
  • Professor Lees is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA), who is world-renowned for her research on gentrification. She is also an international expert on urban regeneration, global urbanism, urban policy, urban public space, urban communities, architecture, and urban social theory.
  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.

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