Sold Out? The Right to Buy, Gentrification and Working Class Displacements in London

Built to provide affordable housing for the city’s working-class, council estates in London have long appeared the ‘final gentrification frontier’, a bulwark against the middle class colonisation of the capital. Yet the last truly affordable housing on these estates is being demolished and they are succumbing to an influx of more affluent dwellers (Hodkinson 2011). This has been enabled by the local state, which has effectively handed estates over to private developers who are replacing social housing with a denser mix of ‘affordable’ housing cross-subsidised by the market rate homes which make up the majority of properties (Beswick and Penny 2018). For this to happen, local councils and developers have to orchestrate a process euphemistically-termed ‘decanting’: existing tenants bid for properties elsewhere in the borough, or are moved against their will; private renters in leasehold properties are evicted, and leaseholders bought out via compulsory purchase, often at unfavourable rates. The displacements this process sets in motion involve psychological, as well physical, dislocations (Watt 2018). [Taken from Introduction]

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