By Nash Croker
Last week the grassroots organisation of local residents, unions, students and Labour campaigners made sure plans to redevelop areas of North and South London have had to be shelved.
Claire Kober’s resignation last Tuesday marks an end to the hugely unpopular Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). The redevelopment would have left thousands of social-rent homes such as those in Northumberland Park Estate to be replaced by Lendlease, who recently demolished nearly 1,200 social rent homes in the Heygate estate, building just 82 equivalent homes in their stead.
On the same day, plans for the Elephant Development were deferred by Southwark council after UAL students occupied parts of the London College of Communication and hundreds of protesters took to the streets last month. Delancey have since pledged to increase the amount of housing at “social rents’ and include a “box park” for local business in their development plan for the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre.
These victories show that diverse grassroots organisation can successfully oppose what often feels like the inevitable tide of gentrification. Too often outsourcing to the private sector leaves mandatory requirements on social rent equivalent homes almost entirely lacking. More often than not, disproportionately BME residents are ‘decanted’ out of the local area to be replaced by luxury apartments that are either hoarded by overseas property speculators or left empty, while homelessness in many of these London boroughs reach record highs.
Lessons need to be learnt from the Government contracting out its construction projects to private sector firms like Carillion and Capita. If we cannot trust these firms to deliver regeneration for local residents, last week shows that we have to organise, educate and oppose the rising tide of gentrification.
Image Credit: Jon King