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  • Writer's pictureCommunity Bridges

Regeneration - Gentrification

Transforming an area and keeping the social capital

In 2019 Community Bridges went along to a talk by Black History Walks: Gentrification of Peckham and Other Black Areas. Walking into the Drapers hall, I was thrilled to see the room full wall to wall with people standing up and sitting down.

No-one was shy about speaking their own opinions, promising a good talk!

Charmaine Brown sits at the front and paints a picture of Peckham in the 70s before regeneration started.

1971 – 2008 Holly Grove Conservation Area

This became a conservation area because of its special architecture and history which the Council wanted to preserve. Signalling the area for protection and regeneration.

1994 – 2004 North Peckham Estate

Regenerated as part of the Southwark Estates Initiative, a regeneration strategy by the Labour government under the Urban Task Force renewal strategy. 3203 homes were replaced and 1184 social-rented housing were lost. It is unknown how many of the new-build housing have since been

1997 – 2007 Bellenden Renewal Zone

It was decided that Bellenden had unsatisfactory living conditions which could be dealt with by making the area a renewal area. A 10-year strategy with £12.42 million of investment was drawn together.

2017 – 2020 Peckham Rye Station Square

This project will regenerate the narrow, dimly lit passageways that lead to the station into a public square. The council has relocated local businesses across Peckham and has built Peckham Palms to help re-locate the Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty shops.

There are some dictionary definitions of regeneration and gentrification but those in the audience who have lived through Peckham's regeneration had some different definitions in mind: 'pushing poor people out', 'social engineering', 'pushing black culture out'.

Peckham today has fewer sirens, nicer shop fronts and a larger traffic of paying visitors, so in a lot of ways regeneration has been a success for Peckham, but what about the loss of 'social capital'? The loss of social capital means the loss of opportunity and support for local people. Residents who have strong social connections in their community are more inclined to help their neighbours, whether this be business arrangements, a shoulder to cry on, lending money or looking after the kids. This is vital to the health and wellbeing of Peckham.

Urban regeneration is the attempt to reverse a declining area by both improving the physical structure, and, more importantly and elusively, the economy of those areas.
Gentrification is a process of renovating deteriorated urban neighbourhoods by means of the influx of more affluent residents.
Social capital is the sum of all our social networks and community ties.


How do we regenerate an area but maintain the connections that give us trust, value, cooperation and opportunity?

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