The Gentrification of Blueberry hill

The Gentrification of Blueberry hill

Gentrification “When “urban renewal” of lower class neighbourhoods with condos attracts yuppie tenants, driving up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. It often begins with influxes of local artists looking for a cheap place to live, giving the neighbourhood a bohemian flair. This hip reputation attracts yuppies who want to live in such an atmosphere, driving out the lower income artists and lower income residents, often ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighbourhood.

It also involves the “yuppification” of local businesses; shops catering to yuppie tastes like sushi restaurants, Starbucks, etc… come to replace local businesses displaced by higher rents.” – Urban dictionary

I arrived to Blueberry hill at the age of seven. Back then it was known as a “rough area”, still reeling from the riots of 1981 and it had a low reputation. Fast forward 25 or so years and it was on its way up…

The second set of riots had me staring outside my bedroom window watching kids no older than 10 walking through the streets carrying televisions and stereo systems on their heads. I wasn’t able to return to work the next day because of the looting and damage to the area, but I guess I should be thankful that my home hadn’t been burned to the ground, like one of the other buildings nearby.

But still, Blueberry hill bounced back. Now the likes of Starbucks, Costa, Cabana, Wahaca, Foxtons, Franco Manca, a Champagne bar, Turtle bay, Blues kitchen, and a BOXPARK (aka overpriced rubbish) has attracted hipsters and yuppies from far and wide, to move in and socialise in trendy Blueberry hill.
Would it be a crime to admit that I’m happy about the new restaurants and bars? I no longer have to travel far to dine and socialise and my friends are happy to visit the area. Way back when, my boyfriend at the time refused point blank to come to my house, because I lived in “Blueberry hill” and it was dangerous. Now he is tagged regularly on Facebook, raving it up in one of the local clubs.

The square used to be a no go area due to the drunks and the drug dealers that occupied the area. Now I can happily walk through without feeling uncomfortable or be followed home.
When I tell people that I live in Blueberry hill the response is somewhere along the lines of “that is so cool I’d love to live there!” Rewind 10 years back and it resulted in wide eyes, or even having a friend ask me if I’ve ever been raped, or seen someone shot or stabbed.

BoxPark
GENTRIFICATION

There are downsides to gentrification of course, one factor being that a lot of people are being priced out, and displaced from their council homes.
I can completely feel compassion for 80yo Greta that has to move from her home of 50 years because some person working for the council has woken up and realised that the estate that overlooks the park is in a beautiful location and they could make billions of profit if they build luxury private flats there instead.
It’s also sad to hear that 40yo Tracy now has to leave her home of 20 years because she was the sole career of her disabled child who sadly passed away and she is now subject to bedroom tax.

It’s a cold world out here, and I really do hope that I will one day have most of the control over my life. That nobody will have the power to force me out of the area I have classed as home. However I appreciate that this isn’t the reality for everyone, not every is healthy nor able to earn money for what ever personal circumstances.
It’s an even colder world for people that have no babies, aren’t homeless and are just trying to gain some independence but can’t because they can’t afford the increasing private rent.

More and more “affordable” luxury flats are being built in blueberry hill, – affordable to an Oligarch perhaps but certainly not the average Blueberry hill resident.
It is sad that local businesses have now been priced out and can’t afford to stay. I’ve watched the price of goods from the local market double, and it’s only a matter of time before they shut completely.

But Blueberry hill is in zone two, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see it coming. It takes 15 mins to get into the city by tube – of course it is going to attract yuppies. And while we’re on that phrase – a young urban professional is quite a nice title, and I feel that they are demonised somewhat, when they are just trying to make a better and independent life for themselves in a capital city that is slowly becoming soulless.

Be angry, sure. But be angry at the right things. Instead of throwing a brick through Foxtons, be angry at the government for introducing right to buy and contributing to the housing crisis. Be angry at payday loan shops, the pawn shops and the betting shops, that are nearly always more prevalent in poorer areas, preying on vulnerable individuals and destroying lives. Focus on building your community UP to match the regeneration of the area, not wishing for it to return to the poverty stricken state it was before.

 

Because I don’t miss that Blueberry hill.

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2 Comments

  1. Tracey

    I can relate to this post in regards to seeing the old pushed out and new brought in. I moved away from my old ends before the gentrification began, but over the past year I have seen the new builds go up, and sadly watched my old block get knocked down. There are good things that come with gentrification; no doubt many people that lived in old builds also get moved into the brand new – I’ve seen this for myself. However, I’m not in favour of small businesses getting pushed out because they no longer ‘fit’ the atmosphere of an area, to be replaced with shops and dining areas that aren’t affordable to local residents. I think this is a subject we will be diacussing for years to come.

    Reply
    • Lizzy

      I agree, it is sad. Especially being forced out of your area, or closing your business down because of a greedy landlord. The arches project in brixton is a real eye opener (http://savebrixtonarches.com) so many small business lost, and they definitely won’t be able to return when the refurbishments are complete.

      Reply

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