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Resisting gentrification on its final frontiers: lessons from the Heygate Estate in London (1974-2013)

Lees, Loretta; Ferreri, Mara

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Loretta Lees

Mara Ferreri


The state-led gentrification and social cleansing of low income tenants from inner London has been ongoing since the late 1990s and continues today. Publicly owned and managed council estates have become the key target of what has been aptly labelled the 'new' urban renewal. Council estates are one of the final gentrification frontiers in London, housing low income tenants in the face of the total gentrification of the city. In this paper we focus on the resistance to gentrification that emerged in and around one of these estates: the Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, inner London. The research and some of the activities discussed formed part of a Scholar- Activist project. We discuss three forms of resistance: local civil society network organising to support open master planning through active engagement with planning; self-organised activities to keep the estate open and accessible during the displacement of its residents; and the legal challenges to the Compulsory Purchase Order of the last remaining properties in the form of a CPO Public Inquiry. While unsuccessful in saving the estate from demolition, each form of resistance and their interrelation succeeded in exposing the degree to which the regeneration of Elephant and Castle and its centrepiece demolition of the estate, was/is not in the ‘public interest’ and in discrediting the local authority's ‘regeneration spin’.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2016
Publication Date Feb 10, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 5, 2018
Journal Cities
Print ISSN 0264-2751
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Pages 14-24
Public URL
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