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Why tens of thousands of people are being forced out of their homes

A new study into the effects of gentrification is to be investigated by a University of Leicester social scientist.

Loretta Lees, Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Leicester, will be the Principal Investigator of the research project. She’ll be working with Co-Investigators Dr Nick Tate (Leicester) and Professor Phil Hubbard (Kent).

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), this new research will look at the impact of displacement from council estates in London on the tenants themselves as well as on the sites of relocation that they eventually move to.

Speaking at TEDx Brixton, Professor Lees said: “Gentrification is not a boost for everyone.

“The overwhelming evidence from over now 50 years of academic and policy research on gentrification is that overall, it’s a negative not a positive thing. The costs outweigh the benefits.”

She added: “The gentrification that I think is most critical and most important at the moment is the gentrification of council estates.

“Council estates are one of the last barriers to almost complete gentrification of inner London and once they’ve gone, we’ve lost.”

Often stigmatised as sites of concentrated social dysfunction, council estates are also coveted for their untapped redevelopment potential. Urban scholars like Professor Lees have challenged the idea of estate renewal as “gentrification by stealth”, intended to privatise social housing and socially cleanse the inner city of low-income communities.

Professor Lees, who is an international expert on urban regeneration, believes that these kinds of developments lead to the exact opposite of what these policies are sold as: “When council estates are redeveloped as mixed income communities, when the middle classes are about to move in, the lower classes are moved out. They’re displaced, so what you get is not social mixing…what you get is gentrification and social segregation.”

You can watch Professor Lees TEDx talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMz1x5_yF2Q

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