Loretta Lees: New Gentrification Battlefields: The Demolition of Council Estates in London

Cornell in Rome Spring 2018 Lecture Series

Loretta Lees is an urban geographer who is internationally known for her research on gentrification/urban regeneration, global urbanism, urban policy, urban public space, architecture, and urban social theory. Since 2009 she has co-organized the Urban Salon, a London forum for architecture, cities, and international urbanism; and, since 2016 the Leicester Urban Observatory. She has been identified as the 17th most referenced author in urban geography worldwide (Urban Studies, 2017) and the only woman in the top 20. She has published 12 books, more than 50 journal articles, and more than 30 book chapters in geography and urban studies.


This talk looks at the displacement of low-income groups from gentrifying council estates in London. In a city that is now hypergentrified, council estates are London's newest and final gentrification frontier. Estates across the city are being 'regenerated' — that is, gentrified through the guise of "mixed community's policy" drawn from the U.S.'s dismantling of public housing projects through the HOPE VI program. The result is the demolition of council estates and their replacement by newly built apartment complexes that no longer include council housing but instead private, owner-occupied apartments alongside supposedly affordable housing (80 percent of the market rents, so not affordable at all). The result is the dismantling of long-term communities, the displacement of families, and domicide. In-depth interviews with displacees reveal the visceral nature of these displacements and their impacts on peoples lives.

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