• Regeneration not for our generation 18 May 2015 | View comments

  • The Maccabees' gig leaves food for thought

    London seems to be under constant redevelopment, but what's the likelihood of Londoner's getting their foot on the property ladder anytime soon?

    On a drizzly evening in May, a line of people awaiting entrance into the Coronet Theatre snakes through the footpath under the Elephant & Castle junction. To witness The Maccabees inside meant joining the dauntingly long queue. Now, if there’s one thing British people know how to do, it’s waiting in queues. Rest assured, the line moves along relatively quickly while the band prolonged the time between the support act and them, assuring attendees got what they paid for.

    The queue was down to lots of people arriving at the same time, to a relatively small venue, for a pretty popular band. Halfway through their set, Orlando Weeks explains to the audience why we’re here. Pointing to an image draped behind them of the nearby roundabout, saying that their forthcoming LP is about looking at things, “thousands of times before, and finding beauty in them.” The road, an entry point to the heart of the city from South London is soon to be redeveloped. Located a short walk away from the Elephant Studio, where the band have frequented to over the years, crafting and recording their music, including the upcoming fourth album.

     

    At the start of the encore, Weeks dedicated ‘Forever I’ve Known’ to the Coronet Theatre, under constant threat of closure, (the song goes: nothing stays forever). The adjacent shopping centre is also to be regenerated (concept drawing below), sold to developers in 2013, and it’s feared the theatre’s lease will not be renewed in November. 

    The thought of seeing the building vanish inspired the band to perform a gig in a venue, too small for its following, with tickets selling out in an hour. The site can be seen in their music video for 'Marks To Prove It'.

    Whether it’s councils or railway companies directing pressure, venue closures have been no stranger of late. Examples from the last six months in London alone includes Vibe Bar, Earls Court, Plastic People, and Crucifix Lane, with Whitechapel’s Rhythm Factory closing later this month. 

    The £3billion regeneration of the centre, built 50 years ago on top of a blitz bombsite would see new retail units, with flats on top. Too many concrete buildings built in the late 20th century, leave you wondering what kind of so-called designers approved such unsightly buildings. And the shopping centre was no exception. 

    East London. Photo by Reece MullenEast London. Photo by Reece Mullen

    The concrete jungle is slowly being demolished and replaced by luxury flats. Implemented by private companies, who invest billions into regenerating parts of the city - areas they may never have stepped foot in. The backlash from regenerations like these has been accusations of social cleansing and gentrification. People are pushed out of their community, to make way for more attractive looking homes to wealthier residents. 

    London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Sir Edward Lister said that out of the 5,000 new homes in Elephant & Castle, only a third would be ‘affordable’.

    Generation Rent campaigns for secure and affordable privately rented housing. A spokesperson said, "With increasing regeneration of housing estates, local residents are being pushed out of London. The new luxury flats that replace them are simply unaffordable for normal people. A whole generation will find themselves stuck renting for life with housing prices rocketing out of reach."

    These regenerations should be for the average Londoner, but the property market in London has always towered over the rest of the country. Rising house and rental prices have been linked to the increased number of people evicted and left homeless. A recent report by KPMG found that a first-time buyer in London would need a salary of £77,000 to get their foot on the property ladder. With the average salary in London at £35,000 a year, saving for a deposit may take a while.

    By 2030, the average house price is expected to reach £1million, and we can only hope that the economy and average salary in the city correlates with this huge sum. Are young people in the Capital destined to be renting forever? With some of the ridiculously priced listings in Central London, the excitement of living in London seems daunting when faced with options within your budget.

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