"Regeneration", or social engineering?Posted: August 13, 2006
Hackney Independent has been pleased to see some discussion of regeneration and gentrification in the Hackney Gazette recently.
The saga commenced with a letter from New Labour’s recently elected Haggerston Councillor, Barry Buitekant:
“Last week’s Gazette (June 29) said three new stations are to open on the extension of East London line at Dalston, Haggerston and Shoreditch.
I’m pleased to say that there will be a fourth new station at Hoxton. The opening of the East London line extension will strengthen the regeneration of the area already underway.”
This letter was responded to the next edition by Paul Fitzpatrick:
“In last week’s Gazette Cllr Buitekant wrote, ‘the opening of the East London line extension will strengthen the regeneration of the area already underway’.
Such a dishonest and uncritical view of “regeneration” is what we have to expect from New Labour politicians in Hackney and elsewhere.
Councillor Buitekant has been newly elected to represent the people of Haggerston, the majority of whom have failed to derive any benefit so far whatsoever from the so-called regeneration of the area.
The proliferation of luxury flats along Kingsland Road, together with trendy bars and restaurants, I am sure is very welcome to Councillor Buitekant and his New Labour friends, but hardly represents the needs of the majority of his constituents.
How about “strengthening” instead some regeneration that will benefit the area’s majority, like building truly affordable housing, reopening Haggerston Pool or investing in sustainable youth facilities?
But, of course, while this would directly benefit local working class people, it is of no interest to the kind of rich young settlers who now run Hackney Labour Party.”
The Gazette also provided the following editorial:
“The banks of the borough’s waterways, for years grimy neglected backwaters, have recently become giant construction sites.
All along Hackney’s stretch of the River Lea and Regent’s Canal disused timber wharves and warehouses have been bulldozed. Rising phoenix-like in their place are steel and glass waterside developments. While some include a percentage of “affordable” or shared-ownership homes (otherwise they would never have received planning approval), few, if any, are on the waterfront.
Those desirable prime-site properties are for the wealthy – well beyond the pocket of most folk earning an average wage.
Inevitably such regeneration changes the borough dempgraphic with the so-called yuppie professional classes moving into up-and-coming areas and pushing up property prices. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but isn’t that a form of social engineering by any other name?”