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Gentrification across London

Gentrification Index for Small Areas in London (2010-16)

Key findings

  • Clear inner vs outer London divide with lower levels throughout most of the outer boroughs, particularly Havering, Bexley and Bromley (with the exception of Kingston upon Thames)
  • Highest levels of gentrification seen along riverside developments in the Lea Valley and the Thames Estuary
  • Clear north/south split in Waltham Forest and east/west split in Haringey

The Runnymede Trust and CLASS recently published a report funded by us - Pushed to the Margins: A Quantitative Analysis of Gentrification in London in the 2010s. The report presents a small area analysis of social/population changes related to the phenomenon of 'gentrification' that has impacted various areas in London, some very significantly, in the last decade.

Simply put, gentrification is where an area rapidly changes its population, caused by an influx of wealthier households, which can cause a displacement of the previous population due to increasing unaffordability of rent and local services provided, resulting in the breakup of established communities and social networks. Gentrification often is an inevitable result of regeneration, where lower quality housing stock is replaced, attracting a more affluent population due to a change in tenure mix.

The report uses a number of datasets from the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) related to name-based ethnicity estimates and household composition change detection, along with house price and deprivation index changes, to compile a single gentrification index.

The map above combines the individual per-borough maps produced in the report into a single map across London, allowing the wider cross-borough trends to be viewed in context with London as a whole. The higher values (shown with darker colours) indicate higher levels of gentrification have occurred.

There are striking patterns across the city. There is a clear inner vs outer London divide, with lower levels throughout most of the outer boroughs, particularly the eastern three (Havering, Bexley and Bromley). The exception is Kingston upon Thames which has seen population change in the study period that puts it on a par with the inner boroughs. The highest levels of gentrification have been seen along riverside developments in the Lea Valley and the Thames Estuary, where former mainly industrial zones have been substantially redeveloped often as large-scale apartment blocks. The very highest values are in Woolwich (the Royal Arsenal development) and Gallions' Reach, on the other side of the river, along with the former Olympic Village in Stratford and central Isle of Dogs. The riverside focus for highly gentrified places does in fact continue further west along the River Thames, although only in the few places where significant land has been available for redevelopment or repurposing - such as Fulham Riverside, Battersea, Brentford and Hampton Wick. The one non-riverside location with the highest scores on the gentrification index is the area surrounding (and in) the former Arsenal stadium is Islington.

Many central London areas also score lower on the index as their population is already affluent and therefore less subject to wealthier incomers. IN particular, the Barbican Estate in the City of London has some of the lowest values. The listed buildings and lack of undeveloped space mean that residential construction activity that most likely stimulates gentrification is almost impossible to happen here. The same is true in Marylebone and Chelsea. Other central London areas on the other hand are hotspots of gentrification, particularly the western edge of Tower Hamlets, as it abuts the City of London, and the northern parts of Southwark, again as they intersect with the City.

Many high-gentrification zones further out from London are as a result of large self-contained major private developments, where a new population en-mass augments the existing established population. Caution should however be taken when highlighting such individual projects - the use of small areas can lead to the overemphasis of some new developments in the index (where they fall entirely in a single area) and underemphasis of otherwise similar changes which fall across two such areas. The map is therefore most effective when looking at broader trends across different boroughs and London in general. For example, the north/south split in Waltham Forest is clear - little is occurring in Chingford and a lot is happening in Walthamstow and Leyton, whereas an east/west split in Haringey, a borough where wealth increases almost uniformly when moving westwards, cannot be seen. This particular borough sees gentrification in both its wealthier western end (Muswell Hill) and its more deprived eastern end (Tottenham).

For full details of the methodology used, a detailed borough-by-borough analysis, per-borough maps and a more detailed and nuanced description of the London gentrification of the last decade and its societal consequences, read and download the full report.