So much reconstruction, so little affordable housing

With the borough of Wandsworth constructing unaffordable housing can Labour be residents saving grace in the local elections?

By Isla Russell, journalism student

London is a city of constant regeneration. Buildings are endlessly being torn down only to be built back-up again in more extravagant and costly ways. Wandsworth is just one borough of London currently going through a phase of housing regeneration. But with the promise of luxury housing comes the threat of a luxury price which leads present and future Wandsworth residents wondering, how will they afford their rent?

“I know that in the not too distant future I’ll have to pack myself and the children up and leave our home for good. I just don’t know where we will go”. Joanne Martin has been living on the Patmore Estate in Battersea for nine years. She is a mother of two young children who balances caring for them with working full-time at her local Tesco Metro. Her flat is a mere 10-minute walk away from the Battersea power station where a nine-billion-pound reconstruction of luxury homes and shops is taking place and she fears the repercussions of this distance. “The Battersea Power Station construction is only a few minutes away from us, and you know what’s going on there. It could be our estate they knock down next”.

Wandsworth has been under a conservative local government since 1978 who have over-seen the regeneration work happening in Wandsworth. However, the local elections on May 3rdcould change the Tories nearly 30-year rule.

The Wandsworth labour party have put affordable housing at the forefront of their campaign. Sitting with Simon Hogg, labour MP for Lechmere, it’s obviously something the entire Labour party of Wandsworth is passionate about. Whilst keeping perfect eye contact with me, almost as if he knows I’m skeptical of believing anything a politician has to say when there’s an election going on, he explains to me: “inappropriate housing in Wandsworth has gone way too far. There are too many unaffordable houses being built and I fear that this will cause people to relocate to a different borough of London, or even outside of London”.

A study by job search engine Adzuna found that the average Wandsworth salary is £29,009 a year, and this has gone down 1% every year. In 2017 the average Wandsworth house cost £796,214 to buy and £511 per week to rent. Regeneration will only push these housing prices higher which may result in Wandsworth residents having to leave the borough. But this is not what the labour party wants. Simon tells me: “we [the labour party] really want to give the present and future Wandsworth residents what they want. We want to work with them to provide homes for the community that is affordable, and stop Wandsworth being a soft touch for developers”.

The labour parties plan for affordable housing sounds great in theory but how will it fair in reality? And what will the outcome be for people like Joanne? “I fear it’s already too late for this building, but maybe with labour controlling this borough we may be able to stay for longer”.

“A smaller fat”

The change from exclusivity to inclusivity- but how far has the fashion industry expanded to fit everyone’s waist line?

 

Walking down the stairs of Jaks on Kings Road I immediately felt relieved that I had opted for a smart casual look today. I was surrounded by antique pieces of furniture while business men in crisp suits perched on 100% real leather sofas as they discussed the stock market and god knows what else. I felt slightly out of place, until I heard a warm voice call my name. I looked to the bar to see lifestyle blogger Chloe Pierre dressed casually and beckoning me over. She immediately grabbed my hand and led me to a leather sofa where we sat and discussed the industry she had grown her life from while it grew around her.

According to Global Data since 2012 plus size expenditure has grown by £800 million as, according to the NHS Health Survey for England, 26.8% of females have become obese since 2015. With the plus size woman becoming an ever-expanding consumer to cater for there is obvious money to be made from designing their clothes, but how inclusive really is the industry? Chloe admits that the fashion industry has come a long way in the past 4 years in accepting plus size women, however explains that there is still a very long way to come: “they use smaller plus sized models and I don’t think that’s right, if you’re marketing to a certain person than you need to show it”.

The argument regarding what counts as ‘plus size’ has been debated for several years. With plus size clothing store Evans starting their stocking sizes at a 14, compared to H&M and Marks and Spencer’s not classing anything under a size 16 as ‘plus’ how are clothing stores supposed to know how to market their clothes to the right sized women? No matter if you’re a “smaller fat”, as Chloe has been called before, or a size 32, YouTuber and plus size model Callie Thorpe believes that the answer is diversity. She thinks, “we need to make sure we have better fit models and more diverse models to make sure that we’re reaching the plus size consumer in a good way and not doing a one size fits all”.

45% of female shoppers buy their plus size clothing online, which means that the women who model their clothing must show an accurate representation of how the outfit will fit. However, the models showing us our plus size clothing are showing a size 14-18 representation of it, when most garments are stocked up to a size 32. Does this mean that women above a size 18 are supposed to play a game of guess the fit, wait 3-4 working days for their delivery, and if it doesn’t fit just shrug it off send it back while dealing with ill-fitting clothes? No, but that’s the way they are made to feel by the industry.

With plus size clothing being dedicated a small amount of shelf space, if any, in many retail stores, women over a size 12 are constantly being made to feel undermined and unimportant by the fashion industry. There is no doubt that there has been great progress made in the inclusivity of larger women within fashion, but they need to be better represented. The fashion industry has expanded but not enough to fit all of our waistlines.

 

Potential profile interviews in Peckham

Peckham library attendant: Middle aged black female could give insight into the history of Peckham and how it has grown as a district. As a very multi-cultured place this woman could give an insight into what it is like growing up in such a multi-cultured environment, including how much racism and discrimination occurs.

Peckham Platform worker: Young woman 20-25, fashionably dressed and working in the charity run art exhibit detailing the past of Peckham and its regeneration. Could provide knowledge on the charity and how it benefits the people in Peckham, as well as what it’s like to grow up in Peckham.

Trade charity shop worker: Young woman 25-30, Russian, working in a charity shop that sells clothing to help reduce the amount of clothing waste in Peckham with the money given going towards improving working conditions in sweatshops. Could be interesting to see how much business the shop gets and how many people use it daily, as well as see what it’s like to live in Peckham when you speak a different language.

Peckham Plex worker: Middle aged white, British man working in Peckham Plex as a retail assistant- Peckham Plex is a cheap cinema where tickets are £4.99 to see a regular 2D film. Could provide insight into the financial state of Peckham- why are the tickets so cheap, is it a reflection on the income of most residents in Peckham?

Jehovah’s Witness: middle aged man, black African, preaching on the street to residents of Peckham. Could provide an interesting insight into how religious Peckham is and how much of the population are Christian compared to other religions or atheists.

Police officer: Spoke to a local police woman who informed us that if we emailed the local police force we could get an interview with them where they could provide insight into any crimes in the area.

‘Do it for you’

If you were to look around the university room of 18 year old Elle Mae Smith you would find a picture wall, a mountain of heels, and the most amazing view of the London Eye.

Growing up in Burton-Upon-Trent, Elle confesses, was ‘very much the same’, but her monotonous lifestyle was drastically altered once she made her way to London Southbank University, with the most exhilarating part for her being the chance to ‘come out of my shell’ and explore a completely new way of living.

The many pictures embellishing the walls of her accommodation indicate that, although a lover of her new found lifestyle, she is very family orientated. It therefore comes as no surprise that when asked what the hardest thing about coming to university was she answered ‘being away from my family’. It’s an issue every university student goes through, however, as Elle wisely answers, ‘a lot of people are in the same boat and this makes it easier for you to connect on a social and intimate level’.

But with homesickness being just one of the many issues that come with being a student how are you supposed to decide whether university is right for you? Elle’s answer is simple, ‘do it for you’. She is not hesitant to mention how her previous school urged her to research into different universities and what they could offer her, as well as looking into internships and work experience. However, after months of research, she came to the conclusion that university was right for her.

Now sitting in her accommodation at London Southbank University Elle Mae Smith could not look any happier, gazing out at the London eye, completely satisfied with her new life as a university student.