How ‘World City’ Status Is Also Harming London


It’s estate agency jargon meaning that London is now a city that belongs to the world (at least, to the rich ones), and applies to a number of metropolises including Paris and New York, and it’s killing whole swathes of the town. I’ve reported on this before, but now it appears the effect is accelerating.

For about a century, well into the 1950s, “prime” London was limited to Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Now the prime area – average prices of £700,000 – covers a third of the capital and is growing at great speed, into areas as diverse as Brixton and Whitechapel.

The World City status has affected people on low incomes for a long time, but it’s starting to bite with people on middle and upper-middle incomes, so that you can be on a very good salary, working and saving hard, and still find that home ownership is out of reach.

The problem is something no-one foresaw. Walking through Bloomsbury last night, I was struck by the number of closed-up houses – people are living there but their homes are only occupied a few weeks a year. When bankers took over Notting Hill they destroyed it by endlessly complaining about shops and noise, and having the clout to shut down street activity. Now some are leaving, saying that the area they helped to destroy has ‘lost its character’. What they bought into was a fantasy-image of London life, just as people who move to Tuscany or Provence see themselves in travel-poster version of these places rather than the reality (the South of France has astonishingly high crime rates).

London’s Soho is next on the list, as the houses in and around Bateman Street get an ‘overseas buyer’ makeover and the investors move in, at least until they’ve killed the independent spirit of the area (which is already well on its way to being lost, as anyone who’s read ‘Film Freak’ will know).

As the ‘luxury loft living’ blocks go up, it’s been discovered that fundamental design flaws are present. The Philishave’s wind turbines are to be removed and the building shortened because the blades aren’t directional and cannot turn. And one prominent RIBA architect has pointed out that most new apartments only have open-air access from their South-facing side (the better to photograph that ‘two chairs on a balcony’ image for the brochure) which means they have no through-currents to cool them in summer.

The only comforting thought is that London life is cyclical. Meanwhile, even poor old run-down Walthamstow has nice leafy avenues and good transport links, which make it ideal for gentrification. Here, Hitler explains it for you.

4 comments on “How ‘World City’ Status Is Also Harming London”

  1. Jo W says:

    Those people changing the area they move into,to suit their ideals,are just the same as those that move into the countryside and then complain about the noises and smells of rural life. Is it because they don’t do their research first or is it because they buy cheaply,to upgrade the property and the area so that they can move away with a large profit? Thanks for the video,Admin. Wouldn’t have thought you could get a good laugh from Hitler!

  2. Paco says:

    I wish those bankers would do their best to close down that frightful daily market on Portobello Road. All those green grocers chanting about the price of apples. And as for Saturdays? One has to fight through the hoards of tourists while attempting to buy a Hummingbird cupcake and a babychino…..AND don’t get me started on all those ethnic food stalls at the top end of Portobello Road selling freshly prepared grilled fish. One can’t have the roof down on the Lambo for the ghastly smell. Last w/e I tried to put a bet on ma and pa’s horse in one of the many bookmakers in the area. It was quite an experience having to endure the queue of older West Indian chappies drinking Red Stripe out of a can…… 😉

  3. admin says:

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with drinking Red Stripe out of a can. Er, apparently.

  4. Janet Wilson says:

    I’ve heard Deptford might get Grenich’d… The denizens of The Birds Nest must resist! If you don’t conform, you may well end up poor- but if poverty is a crime, it’s the rich who’ll end up in a heavily patrolled luxury prison, surrounded by a ring of the disenfranchised. The only lesson I can draw from this, is not to use wealth to buy isolation…

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