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The right to community? Legal geographies of resistance on London’s gentrification frontiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-25
Issue number1
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Accepted/In press21 Dec 2017
E-pub ahead of print15 Mar 2018


King's Authors


Displacement is central to the process of gentrification, but the importance of law in both enacting and resisting such displacement is often overlooked. Noting the tensions between existential, embodied meanings of displacement (i.e. being removed from a place called home), and the formal legal definitions of displacement (i.e. the removal of the right to a property), this paper explores how the law is implicated in the struggle for London’s remaining council estates, with processes of expropriation providing councils a means of displacing residents from these estates to allow for (private) redevelopment but also an opportunity for residents to assert their ‘right to community’. Here, we focus on the implications of the UK Secretary of State’s decision not to overturn the Planning Inspectorate’s (2016) recommendation that Southwark Council should not be allowed to compulsory purchase those homes on the Aylesbury Estate which residents had not already vacated via negotiation. This decision was reached on the basis that while tenants would be compensated financially for the loss of property, they would not be adequately compensated for losing their home. This is suggestive of an expanded notion of housing rights that encompasses a right to community - something that raises the possibility of the law actually aligning with the interests of council residents rather than supporting the politics of gentrification.

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