Just a few years ago East London was considered out of town. Now, even for west-enders, areas like Hackney have their place on the map. They are the new trendy neighbourhood where more and more young professionals and young families are willing to move or indeed, they enjoy going out. Dalston, a part of Hackney, is one of the latest results of gentrification, a seamless process that never stops shaping the faces and character of London.
Neighbourhoods that once were isolated and abandoned are living a new age with better services and business made available to the residents, a better quality of life and hopefully increased safety.
But this comes to a cost, as these changes inevitably bring disruption and frustration to those who already called this place home, and may spark social tensions between locals and newcomers.
Typically, with wealthier people moving in, prices are pushed higher. While property owners will welcome an increased value of their homes, those who can’t afford their own place will have to pay higher rents to satisfy landlords’ requests. The alternative is just to move out to a cheaper area, further away from central London and from transport links. In fact, availability of transport is a crucial drive for this process, and where a rail development takes place, areas like Dalston, that is now a hub of the Overground network, will spark.
These dynamics determine a change in the social texture and a sort of relay between groups from different extractions. In places like Shoreditch, a few years ahead in this process, first came the artists and the creative people who could not afford to leave in more central areas. They created a community, ignited new life in the doomed area. Sometimes, they even squatted buildings, lived and worked in the same place and didn’t mind lacking some comforts. When the level of service increased and more business started, the nightlife lit up and teenagers flocked the streets full of bars and pubs that soon became restaurants and clubs. Residents of the area say that in just a few years the picture changed completely and what was a very spontaneous and alternative lifestyle, turned into a very structured one, with fancy cafés and organic shops, community gardens and nice markets. Nothing wrong about this, but it all seems to follow a very beaten track, while pretending to be original. All guys look the same, people crowd the usual places, and on the first sunny Sunday here they are, with bunches of flowers from Columbia road market. Then pots and bags of soil: welcome, the new backyard vegetable garden!