Tomorrow, New London Architecture (NLA) are hosting “On Location” – a day long event, with walking tours in and around Southwark throughout the afternoon. Attendance at the event costs a ridiculous £358.80 per ticket (unfortunately Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth couldn’t afford that!)
The aim of the walking tours is for Southwark and its eager property developing partners to point out ‘regeneration’ opportunities across the borough – in their own words, the tours will ‘look at the areas of major development opportunity in the borough of Southwark, looking at the Council’s forward strategy for Elephant and Castle, Old Kent Road, Peckham and Canada Water’ so that they can ‘discuss what these key strategic areas for London need to do to maximize their development potential’.
HASL and residents of Southwark are all too familiar with the effects of the social, economic and political forces at work and social cleansing in our communities. This event highlights the ongoing struggle against the housing crisis, where the council and its affiliates engineer to displace poor, working class people and disappear social housing altogether. “Regeneration” will not benefit us and it is a gross and violent attack on our communities. This has been a strategy of many councils long in the making, but we are seeing a more aggressive push in recent years with horrible consequences.
We have already seen what happened to the Heygate Estate, its communities destroyed rather than the council offering to do the cheaper option of a refurbishment (a chronology of the disgusting events by Southwark Council and its business opportunists can be found here). The Aylesbury Estate – on walking tour A – far larger than the Heygate Estate, has also seen residents decanted under the promise of securing housing that is affordable and decent, a promise which almost never materialises. Many people HASL have met find themselves placed on the estate in temporary accommodation, waiting precariously and full of unease until the site is eventually demolished for owner-occupied property which few can afford. Alongside the destruction of housing itself, the Labour-run Southwark Council have created increasing numbers of homeless people and families. They are complicit in creating a hostile culture, which demonstrates to many residents that they are no longer welcome to live in the area.
Speakers at tomorrow’s event include
– Leader of the council, Cllr Peter John, a real property barrister and member of GMB, who has yet to show any sign of putting an end to the abusive gatekeeping practices at Southwark’s housing office in Peckham;
– Steve Platts, director of regeneration, who is thirstily planning a huge amount of regeneration in the borough;
– Many senior directors from property developers such as Delancey and Berkeley Homes.
The event starts at 9am with a meet and greet and speeches at London South Bank University. The walking tours will happen in the afternoon. More about the event can be found on eventbrite here. If you happen to see a bunch of people in suits with clipboards on this tour, and you feel confident, be sure to let them know what you think. You can also join your local housing action group to take action!