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Dying London

The young people who are critical for any city’s prosperity are leaving London. Property prices, rents and sales are rising so astronomically, that only the super-rich are able to live in there.


Steve Latham


Gentrification often prices people out of inner city areas. Now central London is being super-gentrified, becoming a colony of wealthy expatriates.

The urban poor are always displaced in the class war that characterises urban regeneration. Now they are forced out into outer suburbs to afford somewhere to live.

Previous strongholds of the white working classes and the racist British National Party, Dagenham and Barking, have become populated by African and Asian settlers. Employed in service industries, nursing, cleaning, child-care, they often face multiple bus journeys to get to work.

Consequently, the skin tone darkens appreciably on the buses, as opposed to more expensive trains and tube journeys.

But the creative young are also now being priced out. Areas, like Shoreditch and Dalston became the locus for mass colonisation by hipsters: employees of creative industries and IT companies.

Renting rooms in shared flats, they inspired cascades of cafés, pubs, clubs and venues to serve their eclectic tastes.

The influx transformed places like Brick Lane. The Bangladeshi curry houses are still there, but replaced at the north end by coffee shops with rickety tables and chairs.

The area has however also attracted the non-creative classes too. Many of the erstwhile hipster patrons have therefore begun to look elsewhere for their vibe.

To a degree this is simply snobbishness, as the neighbourhood loses its exclusive air, and draws in more the ‘chav’ element.

But rents have also gone up, as demand has increased. Young people are therefore looking further afield to live; somewhere still within striking distance of their leisure lairs, but more affordable.

Like Walthamstow, along the tube and rail lines. Houses and flats are within the price range for some, as they seek to transition from singledom to coupledom to parenthood.

For some, even this is not enough. The exodus fro  London has begun. And it will rip the heart out of the city.

Young people have begun settling elsewhere. Looking for the urban atmosphere, the creative edge, and the lattés further afield.

Small creative colonies have emerged on the south-east coast, in Southend, Hastings and Margate for example. Within easy reach of London for a day-trip, but with more space.

Cities outside London also attract dissatisfied Londoners. Bristol and Birmingham both feel expensive to long-term inhabitants but gloriously cheap for arriving metropolitan transplants.

Some of them were brought up in the capital. But many are recent graduates attracted by the bright lights for their first jobs, now realising the expense of the cappuccino lifestyle.

The harshness of the urban condition is attractive for short while but soon takes its toll. So they are abandoning the metropolis for more comfortable accommodations.

For London, however, what initially lent charm to certain neighbourhoods is now being removed. The effect is to rip out its innards, as the life is sucked out.

(Photos: Pixabay)

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