Monday, 24 November 2014

Dalston Lane is an example of how urban planning is for greed not need

The socialist scholar, David Harvey, remarked some years ago that one of the sites for the way in which working people are squeezed is through the contest over space. This is of course through housing itself, but it's also through 'planning', 'development' and 'regeneration'. Big companies are involved in re-ordering cities so that they can make money from land. Quite often, this involves moving tenants out of dwellings, demolishing buildings and creating new enclaves which cost more to rent or buy than the previous tenants could pay. Again, quite often, councils - Labour, LibDem or Tory (or their equivalents all over the world) will bow to the will of developers pumping out propaganda about how this will 'improve the area' or 'regenerate the district' etc. All they are saying is that they moving poor people out and moving more well-off people in. Then when the chain stores come in and the better off people come in, they say, 'Look how we've improved the area!'. So, this justifies e.g. compulsory purchase, running down old stock housing, bulldozing, torching, bullying of tenants, lying about viability of historic buildings, etc etc. It may well also involve hidden subsidies to big corporations through absurdly low prices for land sales, waiving of local taxes, interest free loans, etc etc.

This whole process - often aided by legislation from central government (e.g. the Pathfinder legislation, brought in by John Prescott) - has been painstakingly documented and fought by OpenDalston and the heroic Bill Parry-Davies. Today was bad news…OPen Dalston contested in court the latest round of council vandalism in aid of corporate greed, altering the spaces we live in for the sake of profit not need…but lost.

There are parallel and analogous episodes going on all over UK and round the world. Please read this blog. We have to support each other in this or they will go on and on wiping out our living spaces without improving them. All they are doing is squeezing the poor by moving them on. It's not planning for all. It's planning for the well-off and the super-rich. As Harvey said, it's class war in another guise.