Monday, 8 April 2013

Home Sweet Home: Enrica Colusso, Heygate Estate, Developer-led Regeneration, Thatcher's London Housing Legacy

Margaret Thatcher died today and enters history as Britain's most divisive prime minister, writes Paul Coleman.
Thatcher's fiery confrontational brand of 'popular capitalism' ripped the guts out of the trade union movement and tore the heart out of Britain's subsidised public or council housing.
  She pushed social democrats like ex-Labour leader Neil - now Lord Kinnock - so far to the right that they wholeheartedly embraced the 'Big Bang' hegemony of deregulated banking and finance and the privatisation of utilities and infrastructure, including railways.
  Personally, Thatcher bore two children. Politically, Thatcher conceived New Labour, Blair and Brown.

London legacy
So, on the day Thatcher died, Tate Modern poignantly screened Enrica Colusso's intimate documentary, Home Sweet Home, the story of a New Labour cohort at Southwark Council selling the Heygate Estate in south London to luxury property developer Lend Lease - a deal Thatcher would've surely endorsed.
   Thatcher sought to create a 'property owning democracy', chiefly by allowing the sale of council houses and, perhaps as importantly, preventing local councils from re-investing sale proceeds in building new council houses.
  Unfairly, Colusso's film might be branded as anti-regeneration and anti-developer. But Colusso gives Lend Lease and Southwark Council more than just a fair crack of the 'developer-led regeneration' whip.

And, by giving a voice to Heygate residents like Helen - working people systematically excluded by London TV news and the city's only daily evening paper - Home Sweet Home provides a nuanced, thoughtful and upbeat take on the sad decline of the Elephant and Castle estate.
   Thatcher died today but Colusso's film shows Thatcher's London housing legacy is still unravelling.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, April 2013

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