Leicester expert says decision on Aylesbury could set precedent for stopping gentrification of council estates

A Leicester geographer, who is an international expert on gentrification, has been working with local campaigners in London to overturn plans for the demolition and ‘regeneration’ of the Aylesbury Estate, one of Europe’s largest public housing estates. Last week, it was confirmed that the campaigners were successful in blocking the plans proposed by Southwark Council.

During the campaign, Professor Loretta Lees presented her evidence on gentrification and social cleansing to the Public Inquiry into the plans to issue residents of the Aylesbury Estate with Compulsory Purchase Orders for their homes.

Professor Lees said: “I hope this now sets some precedent in terms of the threats to residents in the many council estates across London red-lined for demolition and regeneration – what is really gentrification.”

“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 the almost complete gentrification of inner London and once they’ve gone, we’ve lost.

“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.”