The changing residential landscape across London is sometimes met with disapproval and resentment.
Gentrification can be a symbol for negativity, with many arguing that neighbourhoods lose their character and soul as a result. However, what I have seen as a long-term resident in Hackney, a borough that’s often held up an example of gentrification, is quite the opposite.
The socio-economic benefits that come with change go far beyond just new developments – local economies are bolstered, new communities are created and they thrive among the old, enhancing an area’s charm and providing a boost for all residents.
As recently as ten years ago, Hackney was a no-go area at night. Now I would be happy for my own children to live there – and it’s an area that they actively want to live in.
In my thirty years in Hackney, I have seen huge changes as a resident, and as a local property agent I live and breathe this area – it is vibrant, dynamic and made up of many different communities. Hackney is well known for its diversity and it is important that the benefits of regeneration and gentrification are felt by all.
Some of the biggest and most transformative changes have been within the education system and public realm spaces. As a local agent, I have embraced the neighbourhood at many different levels and, as such, I have not experienced any hostility whatsoever. In fact, I’ve experienced the reverse; friends and neighbours from all walks of life have asked me to advise them on purchases – property transcends all aspects of life.
Over the last ten years we have seen a wave of good schools develop in Hackney, a true success story, while London Fields as a park is unrecognisable from a generation ago. When I took my children to the lido paddling pool it was rather down at heel and not well used, yet this summer I took my grandson and there was barely an inch to sit down – what a joy to see so many people enjoying a very unique facility.
Hackney has historically been cheaper than its neighbours, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore.
With large areas of green open space, proximity to the City and now enhanced connectivity, we have seen significant price jumps in recent years, especially since the Overground opened in 2010. This has brought in an influx of newcomers and given rise to improved retail and leisure offerings.
Whilst newcomers bring spending power and support local business, there needs to be a fine balance and the key is making sure that local people benefit from these new opportunities and changes.
In boroughs like Hackney, the established local community thrives among a new breed of buyers who are embracing its authenticity.