London: a city in peril, or in clover?

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London: a city in peril, or in clover?
The high value of residential land has led to massive development, yet many are priced out

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London: a city in peril, or in clover?
The high value of residential land has led to massive development, yet many are priced out

Well, that touched a nerve. When I wrote last Sunday that London is eating itself, it provoked more than 1,100 comments, and a comparable response on Twitter. The overwhelming view was that there was something in the thesis, that an important part of London’s being is threatened by the forces of residential land values. “London is now a peculiar offshore financial centre that turns out to be onshore…” was one paraphrase. “Market forces are killing London,” was another.

Some reported on places that didn’t get mentioned in the article, where similar squeezes are going on – Earl’s Court, Robin Hood Gardens in east London. There were some voices from New York, where the story sounds familiar: this “essay about the black hole of superwealth of London should serve as a caution for NYC”.

The writer Rachel Johnson said: “this is a storming, important, big, piece. I agree with Rowan Moore’s every word.” As her brother is the mayor who has presided over the city as it has reached its current state, this was a tweet to treasure.

Naturally, not everyone agreed. “It’s not in decline,” commented Magic Flugelhorn, “don’t believe the hype. There are perfectly pleasant bits still around and it’s still the coolest place to be. Load of whingeing ninnies – if people don’t like living in the best city in the world, just move somewhere else. It’s not rocket science.” “The usual London-hating shit,” said Ayres bakery. “People have short memories of when London was shit. Now it’s great let’s hate it.” []

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