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Regeneration will cause 30% of London artists to lose their studios, says report


Artwork: Ronzo
Photo: Mark Rigney

Regeneration in London is posing a major threat to the city’s culture, according to a report published by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee published today. It reports that 30% of the city’s artists, approximately 3,500, are likely to lose their places of work by 2019.

The report titled Creative tensions: optimising the benefits of culture through regeneration was carried out to investigate the effects of regeneration on culture. It found that regeneration is intrinsically linked to rising property prices, which forces out the communities whose “energies helped to revive” that area in the first place.

It highlighted the tensions between old and new residents and communities in regenerated areas, as people are priced out by rising rents and property costs. Certain groups are marginalised, the report says, which “leads to homogenisation of the type of residents in an area and the culture on offer”.

It states that industrial land and buildings which might otherwise be creative workplaces are being lost to housing developments, which won’t come as a surprise to many artists who’ve already been forced out of their studios. The report says that while some developers include live/work space in projects, the reality is that these schemes are often unaffordable and not actually used as workspace.

As a result the report makes recommendations to London mayor Sadiq Khan to protect the city’s cultural heritage. These recommendations include a push for the new London Plan to include an affordable cultural workspace policy for every large planning development; and for the mayor to pilot a Creative Enterprise Zone in London, including affordable housing and workspace co-located together.

Navin Shah, chair of the Regeneration Committee, says: “Culture has the power to regenerate places, but due to rising land values, running costs and reduced public funding, cultural venues and communities are increasingly threatened.
“Regeneration must also protect and deliver culture. The Mayor has a key role to play but we also need to make sure that local communities truly lie at the heart of all cultural regeneration projects.”