The Urban Injustices of New Labour's “New Urban Renewal”: The Case of the Aylesbury Estate in London



This paper discusses the urban injustices of New Labour's “new urban renewal”, that is the state-led gentrification of British council estates, undertaken through the guise of mixed communities policy, on the Aylesbury estate in Southwark, London, one of the largest council estates in Europe. In this particular case of post-political planning I show how the tenant support for the regeneration programme was manipulated and misrepresented and how choices were closed down for them, leaving them ultimately with a “false choice” between a regeneration they did not want or the further decline of their estate. I look at what the estate residents thought/think about the whole process and how they have resisted, and are resisting, the gentrification of their estate. I show revanchist and post-political practices, but ultimately I refuse to succumb to these dystopian narratives, very attractive as they are, for conflict/dissent has not been completely smothered and resistance to gentrification in and around the Aylesbury is alive and well. I argue that we urgently need to re-establish the city as the driver of democratic politics with an emancipatory agenda, rather than one that ratifies the status quo or gets mired in a dystopic post-justice city.