The Independent London Newspaper
24th April 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Relentless developments are driving our people away

    Class War' protesters clashed with police in Camden Town on Saturday night.

    'Class War' protesters clashed with police in Camden Town on Saturday night. Picture: @carlcasagrande

    Published: 16 July, 2015

    THE protest reported by the New Journal this week (click here for full story) is said to be against “gentrification”.

    We would rather call it a colonisation.

    The pace of change, triggered by investors, serves only the very well-off, and has shaken people living here. 

    And not just those unable to make it onto the housing “ladder”, or who might be broadly described as poor or working-class.

    Landmarks are pulled down to make way for identikit developments – many are left largely empty all year round and have been built for and sold to investors who only care about a good return.

    The issue at stake is the community. A generation of young people starting work has had to leave the area they grew up in. Neighbourhoods are dying as social housing projects are broken up. If Camden is losing its heart, it is because its soul – the people – are being forced away. 

    Sudden rent rises and a rapacious property market has pushed home ownership way out of the reach of all save for a select few. 

    Petra Dando is right when she warns that worsening poverty and food banks are a direct response to an acute shortage of affordable housing. 

    There is nothing wrong with change, as long as it is for the better. Yet there is not a shred of evidence that the relentless developments, witnessed here so spectacularly over the past two or three years, are improving anything. 

    The protest on Saturday was a snapshot of the anger bubbling under the surface which we hear each day. It may not have succeeded in anything, but it may have started something. 

    Osborne’s muddled plan

    IN overhauling Britain’s planning system George Osborne is putting planning in the front line of the government’s ideological battle against the public sector.

    Ripping away planning regulations, Osborne argues,  will free-up brownfield sites and boost new housing.

    In fact, the extraordinary intention, for instance, to allow householders to put up two storeys on their homes without planning permission will not help to relieve the housing shortage in London.

    In an inner-London area like Camden it will allow home owners to increase the height and size of their residencies and thus simply enhance their market value.

    It will increase the value of some homes in Primrose Hill and Hampstead, by hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions, thus inviting further investment by foreign investors, and exacerbating the housing crisis.  

    Osborne has got himself in a muddle.