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US News In London, residents are fighting against the “boboisisation” of their neighborhood

08:45  25 november  2020
08:45  25 november  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Santiago Peluffo, un des organisateurs de Latin Elephant, une association qui défend les minorités et commerçants du quartier. © Clara HAWKINS Santiago Peluffo, one of the organizers of Latin Elephant, an association which defends minorities and traders in the neighborhood.

Like Brixton or Stratford for the 2012 Olympic Games, the transformation of the famous Elephant and Castle shopping center in south London contributes to the gentrification of this entire district of the capital. Once again, a popular place turns into a posh resort, with housing and shops unaffordable for locals.

Little known to tourists, the district of Elephant and Castle, which takes its name from a huge shopping center, in south London , is not one of the trendy areas of the British capital. The petrol blue walls of this typical block from the 1960s have been washed out by the weather. While there is nothing attractive, the various communities that have developed around have made it their second home.

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To their dismay, at the end of September, Elephant and Castle closed its doors. Backhoe loaders and jackhammers have taken over from local residents on their way. The site will be transformed by real estate developer Delancey into a complex of expensive apartments and shops unaffordable for the local population.

A very popular meeting place L’incontournable enseigne du vieux centre commercial Elephant and Castle à Londres. © Clara HAWKINS The must-see sign in the old Elephant and Castle shopping center in London.

The 35% Campaign, which calls for a third of social housing in any renovation of London boroughs, has succeeded in obtaining 116 of the 1,000 apartments planned to be of a social nature. But for Jerry Flynn, one of the spokespersons, that is not enough. Elephant and Castle is a neighborhood known to be very popular, he explains. Local authorities tend to be on the developer's side, which they see as bringing wealth to the neighborhood. But they forget that London is not a blank sheet of paper.

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Elephant and Castle à Londres © Clara HAWKINS Elephant and Castle in London

The association sued the municipality for having authorized the plan proposed by Delancey. If she lost her first lawsuit, she won the right to appeal to include even more social housing.

This question is not the only concern of the inhabitants of the neighborhood. With the demolition of the shopping center, it is a place of meeting and sociability that disappears. Anna Castro, a Colombian saleswoman, believes that the Latin American community in the area, one of the largest in the UK, is losing its spirit. Before, we were all together, she explains. Now we are dispersed. We try to stay united but it is not easy.

Santiago Peluffo, one of the organizers of Latin Elephant, an association which defends the minorities and merchants of the district, confirms it: The shopping center was a large closed place, with wide corridors, he describes. Children could run around freely during the holidays or play with other children in the community. Now they have nowhere to go.

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The relocation of the hundreds of traders who worked in the mall was also a problem. Initially, nothing was planned for them. So the Latin Elephant Association fought for their rights. About forty of them have been granted temporary new places in the immediate vicinity, explains Santiago Peluffo.

His organization was also successful in negotiating a discount on these new locations, which would otherwise be unaffordable. On the other hand, around 20 traders have still not found an alternative. This is particularly the case of Mohammad Al Warris. This Afghan man sold fashion accessories in the mall for fifteen years. Today he no longer has a store. I have three children to feed. I don't know what to do, he says. All my customers are in this neighborhood, but everything is overpriced. I looked for work but it is very hard to find one at the moment.

Anna Castro, une vendeuse colombienne dans la galerie d’Elephant and Castle, déplore de voir la communauté latino désormais éclatée. © Clara HAWKINS Anna Castro, a Colombian saleswoman in the Elephant and Castle gallery, laments the fact that the Latino community is now shattered.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!