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Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB)

Seminar: "The value of green in a self-financing model of housing estate regeneration", by Alessandro Busà

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Detalls de l'event

Alessandro Busà, Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Researcher at SGGE, University of Leicester, will be at ICTA-UAB to give a seminar on "The value of green in a self-financing model of housing estate regeneration: Tales from Woodberry Down and the Woodberry Wetlands"


Title: "The value of green in a self-financing model of housing estate regeneration: Tales from Woodberry Down and the Woodberry Wetlands"

Speaker: Alessandro Busà, Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Researcher at SGGE, University of Leicester



Date: Tuesday, November 15th 2022
Time: 12h
Venue: Sala Z/033 ICTA-UAB


In this presentation, I discuss the early and latest phases of redevelopment of the Woodberry Down estate in the London Borough of Hackney. Started in 2009, it is a model of project-based self-financing regeneration in which council land is leased to a private development company, whose profits from the sale of new market-rate housing serve to cross-subsidize the re-provision of housing at social rent, along with crucial infrastructure improvements.

Comprised of 57 blocks containing 2,013 dwellings on an area spanning 64 acres, Woodberry Down was built in 1949-1962 facing two vast reservoirs created in the 19th Century to provide fresh drinking water to the city. It was a vocal coalition of Woodberry Down residents that successfully campaigned to preserve the reservoirs from Thames Water’s proposal to concrete them over in the late 1980s. The wetlands have eventually reopened in 2016 after decades of misuse and lack of access, making them into a phenomenal catalyst for the redeveloping area. In this presentation, I describe how the Woodberry Down Wetlands have been discursively and symbolically appropriated by the development partners through a marketing communication aimed at emphasizing the area’s spectacular natural reserve, its sustainable building design, and a “living near water” tagline which has commanded premium sale prices for exclusive residential properties with panoramic views along the waterfront. While the significant inflow of wealthier households has led to a substantial gentrification of the area, the first phases of regeneration have not resulted in the extensive displacement of longstanding residents thanks to a right-to-return policy which grants secure council tenants the right to relocate in new homes at social rent. By reconnecting the estate to the natural reserve through publicly accessible boardwalks and footpaths along the shorelines, the scheme has in fact expanded access to its natural amenities to all residents and to the neighbourhood at large.

Based on the analysis of relevant policy documents and interviews with key stakeholders and residents in the estate, this presentation provides an empirical contribution to current debates on “green” value appropriation and rent extraction strategies, and on housing estate renewal practices under current regimes of austerity urbanism and municipal entrepreneurialism in the UK.  

Alessandro Busà is a Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the SGGE of the University of Leicester. His research project "SUSTEUS” explores the socioeconomic impact of environmentally sustainable redevelopment plans on communities housed in social housing estates in EU and US cities. Alessandro holds a PhD in Theory of Urban Planning from the Technical University of Berlin, where he was a fellow at the Transatlantic Graduate Research Program Berlin – New York of the Center for Metropolitan Studies, and a visiting scholar at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation of Columbia University. A book based on his dissertation, titled “The Creative Destruction of New York City” was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. His recent research focuses on speculative geographies of green investment and the uneven impacts of finance-mediated environmental and climate initiatives in cities and urban regions.