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Gentrification, Neoliberalism and the Right to Buy

Bush House North East Wing, Strand Campus, London

27 Feb dry earth Part of Human Geography seminars

Speaker: Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper, Department of Geography, King's College London

Over 56,000 homes on council estates in London have been lost due to urban renewal since 1998, displacing residents who are housed temporarily, council tenants and leaseholders who bought their council homes under the right-to-buy. This paper argues that these renewals, carried out by councils and multinational development companies, demonstrate a contradiction between the neoliberal discourses advocating home ownership under the right-to-buy and the lived experiences of leaseholders on council estates undergoing renewal.

Specifically, the political policies and discourses which reproduce neoliberalisation, claim that council tenants who exercise the right-to-buy, becoming leaseholders, have greater security due to private property rights. But leaseholders in London council estates undergoing renewal are subjected to displacement/displacement pressures akin to, or even worse than, council tenants. In other words, while neoliberal policies such as the right-to-buy contributed to the expansion of home ownership, estate renewals in which leaseholders undergo displacement and displacement pressures illuminate a set of contradictions between homeownership rhetoric and home ownership reality.

These two contradictory processes are an important legacy of the right-to-buy, yet thorough analysis of the contradictions between neoliberal policies rhetoric and right-to-buy leaseholders on estates undergoing renewal has been overlooked by the literature critically analysing the privatisation of the public housing sector.


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