Gentrification – what’s to be done

Sometimes people who oppose a low traffic Mill Road do so because they feel that the area around Mill Road is becoming gentrified. And they believe that it’s the newer, richer residents who by arguing for more active travel and less traffic and pollution, are attempting to further increase the value of their houses, in the process excluding yet more residents with ordinary jobs from living here.

(We think that this attitude is more than a bit patronising to the less well off folk who do live here, implying as it does that they and their families are very happy with congestion, pollution and to be actively discouraged from cycling and walking. It also ascribes the worst of motives to house owners who are campaigning for less traffic.)

We do agree that the character of the area has changed over the last 40 years, and not always for the better. A lot of what we have always loved about living here is the diversity of the community – young working families, elderly people who’ve lived here all their lives, students, visiting academics, and so on. And we agree that this diversity is threatened in particular by ever rising housing costs.

So if we’d like to halt and even reverse this gentrification, how would we go about that?

The Runnymede Trust and The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) have recently produced a report into gentrification in London which has five key recommendations

  1. Introduce rent controls into the private sector
  2. Ensure that all developments within Opportunity Areas (OAs) deliver at least 50 per cent social housing
  3. Build more social housing units and expand community-land trusts
  4. Secure a ‘right to return’ for all residents living in estates undergoing regeneration schemes.
  5. Establish a Social Impact Assessment in Development and Strategic Plans.

We suggest that those who would oppose change on Mill Road as a symptom of gentrification should instead ask their elected representatives what’s stopping them implementing these measures here.

You can read the detailed report below.