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Thoughts on urban planning, city design, architecture, the built environment, social issues, Seoul, Korea, and soon... London

27.6.04

Polarization through London regeneration 

The main lessons to be learnt from the London section of INURA's The Contested Metropolis are short and bitter.

Essentially, there are grassroots and local initiatives to regenerate parts of the city, as well as top-down initiatives implemented -- or at least voiced -- by the central and municipal governments. Aspects of each occasionally coincide.

The texts, mostly written during or just after the creation of the Mayor of London's draft London Plan, point to disappointments. Essentially shortness in funding and support from governments for neighbourhood efforts and the lengthy times development plans require to take off deplete energies and the glue of bonds at the local level, meaning private developers and landowners tend to win the most influence over a project with little or no consultation or participation from those most directly affected – the existing communities.

This, in turn, more often than not leads to rises in property prices in a neighbourhood (and increase profits for developers), and as areas targeted for regeneration are usually poorer ones, locals are displaced. Michael Edwards' contribution gives a good analysis of the workings that effect regeneration and development from the global to the local. His argument stems from the basic premise that the same forces creating wealth for London (or at least for some of its citizens and businesses) also creates poverty for London (for far more people than those gaining wealth), thus resulting in further polarization.

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