Tom works in Stroud Green.

Gentrification: What Does North London Think?

Written by: Violet Myers

In 2015 gentrification surpassed it’s rivals as the year’s hottest phrase, beating both ‘bae’ and ‘on fleek’ to the crown. The topic has dominated the news with barely a day going by without papers releasing new details of growing rents, forced closures and cereal cafes, but what does it all really mean to the average Londoner?

Is it an unavoidable product of urban growth? Or an unjust mass eviction of low income residents? Is it destroying neighbourhoods or opening them up to vibrant new business?

We took to the streets of North London to find out your opinions on the notorious G.

Tom – works in Stroud Green.
“I’m not that against gentrification, but admittedly in a lot of cases it could be handled better. I’m not against the gentrification of shops, I think that’s fair business, but I think the way that the housing crisis in the capital is handled, such as uncapped rent increases, is having a really negative impact on the city. I can’t afford to buy in Inner London and neither can my friends, yet renting here is also very expensive.”

Martina – local resident.
“I’ve lived in the area since October 2015. I like the mix of new and old. What I like about the mix is that you see both sides, both sides of the coin. 
We own our house and it’s incredibly expensive. I moved here from Austria, we paid so much more here. It’s always rising, it’s not really fair. I am concerned, but it also works to my advantage as a home owner.”

Josh lives in Holloway.

Josh – lives in Holloway.
“I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it’s the big time property developers that have created the problem. They’re building unaffordable luxury properties and hiking up the prices – now there’s a wider housing crisis as a result. The prices need to be capped and more affordable housing built, so people can still stay living in the areas that have all these new shops and opportunities opening for them. There also needs to be more restrictions on a wealthy minority of largely foreign investors buying out significant amounts of London housing. Right now I have no hope of buying in London and I couldn’t even afford to rent by myself so I live with friends – I don’t even have a living room because it was more affordable to use it as a bedroom!”

Belinda is a local resident.

Belinda – local resident.
“I’ve lived in Hackney for thirteen years and now that it’s a really popular area all the houses are really expensive. I’m trying to move out of my parents house. I’ve been searching everywhere, I still want to live near my parents but it’s so expensive. I’m very worried I won’t be able to stay in London, I’ve been forced to look at places out of London, it’s so much cheaper, for what you can get for a dinky one bed here you can get a proper house outside. But I like how modern it’s become. I don’t think it’s lost it’s personality at all, I think it’s really positive and that encourages multiculturalism and I’ve even noticed a fall in gang culture.”

Warren is a local resident.

Warren – local resident.
“Gentrification has downsides and upsides. The downside is, once everyone is paying £500,000 for a one bed flat, they’ll realise they can’t get a cleaner or a babysitter. Once they run out of service industries, people will realise the trouble they’re in. As a property owner I can see positives too, I bought my flat for £15,000 and it’s currently worth £260,00 but that’s all relative. I lived in Walthamstow 10 years ago and no one wanted to live there for love nor money, now a two bed house is getting to close to half a million, which by square foot puts in on par with Richmond and places like that.”

Gentrification in North London - Alex from Davies & Davies Estate Agents, finsbury park, stroud green, crouch end

Alex lives locally & works at Davies & Davies Estate Agents.

Alex – lives locally & works at Davies & Davies Estate Agents.
“This neighbourhood has changed significantly over the years, for better and for worse. For better because there are so many thriving independent businesses, the area is socially and culturally diverse and is a fantastic place to live and work. It’s managed to retain its character but it feels safer and there’s an abundance of creativity here. For worse because it’s getting increasingly expensive. Yes, people may laugh at me for saying that because I’m an estate agent, but I’m also a resident! I sell property for a living, but my partner and I couldn’t currently afford to buy in this area. Oh the irony! The rising prices may be great for home owners, but for first time buyers and young families wanting to live here, who don’t have a decent wedge of money, it can be difficult to get a step on the ladder. I work with a lot of people who are in this position and there is help out there, such as the Government backed ‘Help to Buy’ scheme, which does make it a bit easier. I guess prices go up as a result of more people wanting to live here because it is such a great area.”

 

Photos by Michael Barry.

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