In the past 5 years urban development has become a steadfast trend with locals and independent businesses being the main victims of community flush-outs by domineering corporate heads and investors.
For the over a month I followed the demolishment of a former council estate residence erected in the 1980s to bring together various working class individuals and families and build a community where their social class is equal.
Fast-forward three decades, the building that once housed numerous families and blue collar workers is now a desolate and lifeless object seeking new beginnings. This isn’t the first. There are several former housing residences, offices, warehouses and co. that have either now become luxurious apartments home to the hipster demographic or undergoing the process.
The building you see in this article is located in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Situated in the heart of a working-class neighbourhood, it stands central to various parts of Birmingham – an unmissable sight as you drive through the M6 North motorway. It is one of countless deserted constructions in Birmingham – the second largest city in Britain – to be victim of what is in essence a cold destruction of community and belonging.
Urban development, commonly known as ‘gentrification’, is a common feature of modernity that sparks divided opinions within society.
What you find is there are some that stand for gentrification; applauding its progressive intention and potential benefits – those are people society has grown to identify as ‘hipsters’/liberals. On the other hand, there are others that fight against the greedy intentions behind this so called gentrification; those are what society identify as activists – though one must note they vary.
Irrespective of the side you support or simply find yourself advocating or endorsing, the bottom line is we are all positively and negatively affected by urban development – not least to mention those who fall victims of the process.
We live in an age where our surrounding is constantly changing at an alarming rate due to technology. And this isn’t going to stop. At present, there are around 15,000 high-end flats on the market and what you find is most of these flats have taken the habitual space of lower-income residents.
According to Governing.com, around “20 percent of neighbourhoods with lower incomes and home values have experienced gentrification since 2000.” The prime culprit of this has to go to London; a somewhat overpopulated global powerhouse (well for now…*cough, cough* Brexit) where gentrification is just like buying a Big Mac.
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘gentrification’ as “the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.” So what does that mean? Only rich folks can live in nice areas? But that isn’t even the underlying question.
The question roaming and eager to be answered is: What next? What happens once every low-income resident/individual/civilian/family has been flushed out of their communities due to the greedy, privileged and unsatisfied members of society?
I’ll leave you to ponder.
UPDATED: 20.03.18 (20:02)
Timmy Odejimi is a freelance journalist, writer and poet. He is an avid lover of African literature, museums, [red] wine and an often disappointed Arsenal fan.