The London Clearances
In this article we look at the origins of London’s housing crisis and how it is being used to justify a policy of estate regeneration that is demolishing the homes of the communities they house. Our argument is that regeneration is the key mechanism in what we call the London Clearances, which is making London’s local authority-owned land available for private investment and redevelopment. To expand this programme, the Conservative Government has announced its intention to recategorise existing council housing as brownfield land, a term used in planning to describe previously industrial or commercial land that has fallen into disuse. We trace the origins of this policy, from think-tank to mayoral platform to government legislation—most recently in the Housing and Planning Bill—and analyse its justifications in the twin narratives of austerity and densification. We examine how the economic forces of international finance is driving estate regeneration through Labour Councils, and situate this in the context of the wave of legislation passed by this Government to dismantle the welfare state. Faced with this programme for the social cleansing of London’s working class communities and the catastrophic effects it will have on the city, the article concludes with a consideration of current and possible future forms of resistance by housing campaigners, including an outline of the principles underlining the authors’ own response to what we argue is a politically legislated and economically driven ‘crisis’ in housing.
The writers are co-founders of by the working collective, Architects for Social Housing (ASH) within which this was written.
Citation : Elmer, S. and Dening, G. (2016) The London clearances. City, 20 (2), pp. 271-277
ISSN : 1360-4813
Research Group : Architecture Research Group
Peer Reviewed : Yes