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The ethics of regeneration: architects react to protest claims


In response to Alex Ely’s reaction to the AJ120 Awards protest by Fight4Aylesbury and ASH (19.06.15 below), allow me to correct the factual inaccuracies in the answers he gave to his own question about whether his practice, Mae Architects, is acting ethically in participating in the £1.5 billion regeneration of the Aylesbury estate. 1) First, the Aylesbury estate is not being ‘regenerated’, it is being demolished for new developments. 2) The estate did not ‘vote in favour’ of demolition; on the contrary, at a 2001 ballot responded to by 76% of residents, 73% voted in favour of refurbishment and against demolition (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/dec/27/1). 3) And far from the council’s decision to demolish being made ‘following extensive consultation’, in 2009 Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First made a submission to the Government Inspector on the ‘systematic failings of the Aylesbury Area Action Plan consultation process’ (https://aylesburytenantsfirst.wordpress.com/resources/). 4) Finally, rather than ‘designing private housing to pay for social housing’, there will be 680 fewer homes in the projected development for social rent, and these will be for up to 80% of market value, far beyond the financial means of the current council tenants (https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/aylesbury-estate/). The exact opposite of the ‘Robin Hood’ moral standpoint Ely rather grandly characterises himself as taking, Mae Architects are stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Behind this facade of misinformation, assumed neutrality, and responsibility passed to no less a Notting Hill sheriff than ‘society as a whole’, it is with such collusion in the social cleansing of council estates and the communities they house that architects warrant their description as ‘the funeral directors of the working classes.’ Simon Elmer ASH (Architects for Social Housing)

Posted date

8 November, 2015

Posted time

10:28 am