Published on November 24, 2013 | by Katherine Jackson

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This is what happens when ‘cool’ moves in

Boutique stores in Peckam

Boutique stores catered for ‘locals’ with deep pockets sitting alongside corner stores in Peckam [Paolina Stadler]

‘Hipsters’ and ‘yummy mummies’ are taking over Peckham. ALN looks into the consequences of gentrification for local communities

The new ‘cool’ is fickle; it doesn’t stay around for long. It has been flitting around London, from Notting Hill to Brick Lane, and now it has settled in the South East.

London’s impoverished and run down areas are often targeted and transformed by ‘arty’ types, who buy shops and pubs when they’re cheap, creating up-and-coming areas.

As students, we often reap the benefits of gentrification; with temporarily cheap accommodation, trendy bars, clubs and fun nights out. The long-standing locals who have been residents for generations will experience a completely different and often more negative side of the changes.

The more ‘cool’ a place becomes, the higher the house prices get and the less affordable it is.

Peckham is currently a prime example of this. Three or four years ago, it was an affordable, fun, yet run-down area, with a strong and colourful community spirit. It is proudly the most ethnically diverse area in the whole of the UK, with residents from all over the world.

Devastating

However, with the recent influx of students and yummy mummies, house prices have soared and locals have been forced to find cheaper areas to live in. Although the scene may have become ‘cooler’, the impact of the changes is obviously devastating for those who have lived there all their lives and now have to leave.

Peckham Vision, which represents the local businesses and community groups, has commented on the damage caused by the recent swarms of students and ‘yuppies’ that have moved in. It said: “Locals have been forced out of their homes, unable to keep up with the soaring house prices.”

GJM estate agents in Peckham Rye confirmed Boutique stores catered for ‘locals’ with deep pockets sitting alongside corner stores in Peckham that the rise in property prices has been ‘drastic’ over the past three years, with some properties in Peckham costing as much as those in areas that were previously considered more ‘respectable’, such as Clapham Junction and Battersea.

“It’s a mystery to me”, one local Peckham resident said. “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.”

Last year, The Guardian’s Weekender magazine featured Peckham in their ‘let’s move to…’ section, and in their case against moving there said: “Give it five years and it will be just like Clapham”, making it a somewhat futile exercise.

Unaffordable

Brixton Village private market

Brixton Village private market [Rosa Hardaker]

The comments below the article say it all; hipsters, yummy mummies, and yuppies are moving in and ‘ruining’ the community.

One disappointed resident writes: “What Peckham doesn’t need is more articles by middle-class journos, persuading people to move into ‘cool areas’. It seems like Peckham will soon become unaffordable and conventional. There are always new places for the arties to ruin.”

New Cross is also on the cards for a potential middle-class makeover. Outrage and anger was seen when a small Sainsbury’s recently opened its doors opposite Goldsmith’s College, posing a threat to smaller local businesses that had served students for years.

Many threatened to boycott the shop in favour of local businesses in the vicinity, however one Goldsmith student said: “It’s sad because although we all know these monster corporations are bad, unfortunately I will ultimately buy my lunch at the cheapest place – which at the moment is probably Sainsbury’s. I’d like to shop at local places but it’s just too pricey. It’s impossible for smaller companies to compete.”

Brixton, is another alleged victim of the ‘yuppie culture’ and recently saw protests against the opening of a Champagne and Cheese bar, Champagne and Fromage, in Brixton Market, a formally ‘dodgy’ and ‘dingy’ local hang out.

Multicultural vibe

Objectors claim that the rise of ‘yummy mummy’ culture is tainting Brixton’s multicultural vibe and forcing house prices up and locals out. Chants of ‘yuppies out’ could be heard on the day of the Champagne and Fromage opening as it was stated that the protester’s aim was “to tryand disturb the yuppie infidels.”

This process took place in Hackney and Shoreditch a few years ago, when cool went viral in East London, spreading like a contagious disease from the hotspot of Shoreditch and on to its neighbours of Dalston, Hackney and Hoxton.

It may be hard to believe now, but Shoreditch was once as run down and grimy as any old south-east neighbourhood. Today it thrives as one of the most expensive and trendy areas in the UK, flooded with artists, musicians and people chasing ‘cool’.

Again, locals have shown distain to this new label of hipster hang out. “Hipsters, fuck off back to mummy”, an eye catching piece of graffiti in Dalston Junction reads. How long will it be until Peckham and Camberwell are transformed to this extent too?

It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. The counter argument is that there are many positives of gentrification, with some believing that it inspires communities to take an interest in their surroundings and that the changes help rake in cash to local businesses that were previously overlooked. Sometimes it can even help to reduce crime, as levels of poverty decrease.

 

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