I’m currently blogging my way through the Reclaiming Our Neighbourhoods experiment exploring what it means to follow Jesus when our neighbourhoods are experiencing gentrification. You can read Week Three here.
This week we explored how improvement in the area of transportation contribute to gentrification.
We started this week’s session by meeting at a bus stop in Dalston for a group exercise. We were supposed to ride the bus and get off where we usually meet for our weekly sessions. The goal of this exercise was to see who gets on the bus and who gets off the bus and where. We were also supposed to observe the neighbourhood surroundings as well as we snaked our way through Hackney.
We explored how improvement in the rail line that eventually morphed into the London Overground transformed Hackney and other areas and kick start the process of gentrification in the area. It is interesting to see how areas that suffered poor transportation infrastructures were generally deprived areas while those areas that had excellent transportation links were home to those who would be considered more well off. It also doesn’t help that people pay a premium to live near good transport links as well.
One of the bigger transportation that is currently pressing Hackney is the Cross Rail project that is due to cut through Hackney. We learned that many people will end up losing their homes and businesses in order to make room for the project to take place. While it might benefit people in the area, the Cross Rail is not going to benefit those who are going to lose their homes and businesses. While we might benefit from high speed trains coming through our area, we are going to lose some historic buildings and businesses that have been around for several generations.
This week session has prompted me to be more aware of how improvement in transportation is impacting my neighbourhood. Even a simple thing such as rerouting a bus route will have consequences. I also find myself paying more attention to the notices in the local paper to see if there are planning applications concerning transportation such as Cross Rail and how I might have a say in how transportation is used where I live.