This is Our East End – Stop High Street 2012!

Tell them what you really think of their ‘regeneration’…

For those of you unfamiliar with the High Street 2012 project, it is essentially a gentrification gimmick for the route from the City to the Olympic Site in Stratford. That is, of course, including Whitechapel High Street – Mile End Road.

Amongst other monstrosities, it’s logo appears on the website for  the Water Lily Development and presumably has something to do with the demolition of the council estate right opposite what will become the Waterlily for – you guessed it – more shops that we cant afford to spend our money in.

The High St 2012 project cannot be seen in isolation from the wholesale yuppification of our area.

They never asked us if we wanted any of this…until now!

The Mile End Waste Consultation will be taking place at the Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, this Wednesday 28th July at 6:30 PM.

It will be discussing the nicer parts of regeneration, namely the planting of trees, cleaning of statues, and the creation of parks. Whilst WAG would not disagree that these are all things the East End could benefit from, we aren’t naive enough to think that we will be around to enjoy them for long if High Street 2012 – and their partners in Tower Hamlets Council and the London Development Agency –  have their way.

Such improvements to the area serve two purposes: one, to make it appear to the existing residents of the East End that their lives are being improved by the Olympic development and two, to make investment by those who cater for transient, but profitable, sectors of population (i.e: tourists, first-time buyers and City workers) more attractive. It doesnt take a genius to realise that the interests of the rich will take priority over the working class communities of the East End unless we organise together, now.

On that note, we cordially invite you to turn this sham consultation on it’s head and expose it for the crude PR stunt that it is. It’s time we put our issues and needs on the agenda. This is only the beginning…

5 responses to “This is Our East End – Stop High Street 2012!

  1. Dave Hedgehog

    “Our East End”? .. so are you guys all born and bred in E1 then? Or just bored 20 year- olds from Surrey? Hmmm..

  2. Pete Porcupine

    Why not come to a meeting and find out Dave? You might be surprised what you discover when not posting petty comments on the internet.

  3. “Our East End” as in the East End of the people who currently live there. Not of the property developers and speculators who probably currently live in Surrey.

  4. Gordon Brown said that affordable housing was one of the great causes of our time. For a change, he was right. Only his solution – shipping London’s working class out to the flood plains of the Thames Gateway, out of sight and mind – is wrong. What we want is affordable housing for the working class in working class areas and an end to the influx of yuppies who distort and socially cleanse whole districts of Britain’s cities. Of course gentrification’s no new thing: in 1964, Ruth Glass described the process of gentrification thus:

    One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle classes – upper and lower… Once this process of gentrification starts it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupants are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.

    Gentrification, then, is a process driven by the middle class, in which they ‘invade’ and ‘conquer’ an area, expelling the original inhabitants. It is an aggressive manoeuvre in the class war. And since Glass’ description of gentrification it has, if anything, become even more forceful.

    What was once a process driven by individual entrepreneurs has now become something backed by the state, as can be seen from the High Street 2012 project, or what is happening in Dalston. Fuelled by speculators like Foxtons and other estate agents, gentrification is middle class colonisation of working class areas. And the colonial analogy is played out even in the way that it is described in the pages of papers like the Telegraph and Times.

    The pursuit of gentrification is seen as laudable – from a middle class perspective. It’s a bit like moving abroad to them, as the working class and areas in which we live *are* effectively a foreign country to them! This was made pretty explicit in 1890, when the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, wrote this:

    As there is a darkest Africa is there not also a darkest England? Civilization, which can breed its own barbarians, does it not also breed its own pygmies? May we not find a parallel at our own doors, and discover within a stone’s throw of our cathedrals and palaces similar horrors to those which Stanley has found existing in the great Equatorial forest?

    Little has changed since Booth wrote. Indeed, for today’s yuppies, moving into our areas is seen as a civilizing process, an uplifting process, and the modern equivalent of the ‘white man’s burden’. Areas in the first stages of development are said to be ‘discovered’. Areas infested with yuppies are described as ‘up and coming’, where once they were ‘downmarket’. The entire exercise is touted as an excellent investment, in precisely the same terms as the ways English, French and Spanish colonial ventures were described. Where once the middle and ruling classes chanced their money on despoiling foreign lands, now they often take the safer option of despoiling working class areas. So safe, in fact, that many middle class families have bought homes for their offspring when the children are barely out of nappies, as an investment for their future.

    Returning to the similarity between gentrification and imperialism, the yuppies who invade our areas frequently live apart, often in gated communities, regarding themselves as a superior caste, in the same way that the colonial settlers in Africa or China kept themselves separate from the natives. They’re quite happy to live among us as long as we know our place. And, of course, the yuppies frequently have second homes where they can recharge their batteries: as one yuppie put it, about living in Islington’s Barnsbury, ‘it might be more difficult to live here if we didn’t have the escape to Somerset that we have, the house down there’. So at one fell swoop they’re managing to screw two working class communities, in this case one in Islington and one in the West Country.

    We don’t indulge in nostalgia for an age that never existed. We are not starry-eyed for kinship and community in streets of terraced houses with outside loos and front rooms used once a year. We are for confident working class communities living in areas with amenities which suit them, which cater for their needs, with what they require and desire for a fulfilling life without these improvements being provided for an interloper class of well-heeled rich scum. We are for the decent parts of regeneration being provided as of right for the people of the East End, without the strings attached of building homes for so-called ‘keyworkers’ and yuppies. We are for shops which cater to the ordinary people who live in the East End, and not flash boutiques, wine bars or posh restaurants which only yuppie scum can afford to patronise.

    The con of ‘regeneration’ has been tried in too many places for people ton continue to be fooled by it. It is about making the area safe for the development of shops and housing for the middle class.

  5. The ‘waterlily’ is a historic building known previously as Wickhams deptment store built in the 1920’s. So it was probably expensive on the first day it opened…

    I’d rather it was restored and used as it was originally intended to be rather than a sad, run down tile store of recent years.
    The council estate opposite belongs to Southern Housing Group and they are going to rebuild on the same piece of land more affordable housing although probably easier on the eye and more pratical than the current Fulneck house.

    I think you concerns about rapant regeneration are possibly justified but the examples you gave aren’t actually the problem.

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