A debate has been raging all week underneath Times columnist Giles Coren’s jocular post about the gentrification or otherwise of Kentish Town, much of it centred on whether the area is now a “sterile little village” (coined by commentator Gerry Slater) – compared to how it was twenty years ago.
In response to some of the criticism, Coren has replied today that he’s “reappropriating the word ‘shit hole’ to mean something positive. I know how KT looks to outsiders and I’m not ducking it. I am proud of it, regardless of its one or two aesthetic and social failings compared to the ‘London Prime Property’ beloved of the international market.”
But did you know there’s another, scarier level of the g-word? Today The Guardian reports that research by poverty charity the Cripplegate Foundation suggests our neighbouring borough Islington will soon be the preserve of the “ultra-rich and ultra-poor”. This, it argues, is a result of “supergentrification”.
But what is supergentrification? Fuelled by “London’s financial elite,” it’s all sky-high salaries, bonuses and zero community feel. The middle-income, middle class professional families – from teachers to lecturers and journalists – who make up that horrible phrase, the “chattering classes” – are now squeezed out of such areas, as they are, of course, in many parts of our very own borough.
The report’s co-author, Faiza Shaheen, a researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said “widening social inequality and the gradual exclusion of low and middle-income families in Islington is replicated in other areas of inner London, such as Camden and Hackney, with potentially damaging effects on the stability and health of local communities”.
So is it the end of what Coren might call the inner London “shithole”? Is supergentrification unstoppable? Is there a natural ceiling, or is it too late?
What do you think?