London Lovers #3

I am Laura Rosseel and I am currently studying at London School of Economics and Political Science. I am following a one-year law Masters, deepening my knowledge of international corporate law. I have been absolutely in love with London since I came here first, about 10 years ago now I guess. The city is so vibrant, open and nothing’s impossible or unimaginable. The countless temptations of the city do keep me from my studying, but well, I’ve got some time ahead to rectify that...

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£5 Cappuccinos

That's a price you unfortunately can come across in the gentrified areas. I have to spit out my thoughts and worries about my favourite city's future, so here we go (again): London and its gentrification of less popular areas.

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One of my first posts was on the gentrification of Shoreditch (Shoredification). I wrote that I tend to agree with the people of Shoreditch; it's just way better now than only a few years ago. There's a lot of social progress: crimes rates are decreasing, schools are better, etc. Nobody prefers crack houses above coffee bars, right?! But it strikes me that this gentrification, or upscaling if you want, is getting out of control. It's not only Shoreditch, but also Hackney, Bethnal Green, Dalston, etc. and apparently the new yuppie families are driving the 'original inhabitants' out and making it a posh area. Even the creative youngsters who once came to East London because of its cheapness but attractive and cool image are now fleeing to further areas such as Walthamstow, because they simply can't afford it anymore.

photo: McCarthy-Rimella on eastlondonlines.co.uk

Honestly, I don't know what to think about this. London is changing so much in such a short time. The international newspaper headlines the past few weeks were all about the homeless spikes and the poor door. That's not how we want to see London evolving, do we? 20 years ago every neighbourhood had its residents, even in West London. Like a journalist from The Economist is saying: "Hampstead: intellectuals; Islington: media trendies; Camden: bohemians, goths and punks; Fulham: thick poshos who couldn’t afford Chelsea; Notting Hill: cool kids; Chelsea: rich people. Now, every single one of these is just rich people."

photo: The Independant

It has only been three years since the London Riots, but it could happen again if people feel diminished. That's also what Pauline Pearce, a Hackney resident, says in an article in the Telegraph this week:

"London belongs to all of us. Not just those who can afford to pay £5 for a cappuccino."

photo: The Guardian

I totally agree with her, but I guess it's about finding the right balance between the amount of upgrading the neighbourhood. You can make it more safe and enjoyable to live, but some areas are becoming artificial now. Housing prices are becoming ridiculously high and so are the products in those areas. Sometimes 'poor people' are allowed because when new buildings are being built, there have to be a few floors for the subsidised social housing. That's when you get the 'poor door'. Although some social housing residents actually don't mind, because they are still in a way better situation than before. The gap between rich and poor is still growing in London. But what can be done?

Share your thoughts here or on Twitter.

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Another interesting article on this topic here.

Flowers galore (aka Chelsea Flower Show)

Today was the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show, which is a yearly event in West-London where the most beautiful gardens and flowers are shown. Also, new plants are often launched. During the event, many shops in Chelsea (mainly on King's Road towards Sloane Square) are nicely decorated. Sometimes they create a whole scenery with Victorian garden tables and chairs. I highly recommend to take a stroll there during the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Chelsea Flower Show