I was driving back through Deptford, returning from one of the many, many journeys I’ve been making to the local skip in recent weeks, when I noticed how, well, upmarket parts of it are beginning to look. I know, I know, Deptford and �upmarket� are not ideas you’d normally associate with one another, but the signs are clear: Deptford is gentrifying.
This is the second time I’ve seen a part of London suddenly start to regenerate. A decade ago, I lived in the East End, just prior to the sudden gentrification of the areas within easy Central Line reach of the city. In my visits back since, it’s become steadily unrecognizable. In that same decade my local area, Lewisham, has stayed much the same. Oh, sure, there have been changes. The huge influx of East Europeans into the area around Lee High Road has been very noticeable, as the noticeably growing ethnic diversity of the area. The secondary shops around the town centre are much better occupied than they were a decade ago. But, fundamentally, Lewisham remains in much the same physical level it was back then. Regeneration on building stock has been, at best, small and incremental.
What separates Lewisham from the other two, I suspect, is that Lewisham never sank quite so low. It never became quite so run down. It’s an odd thought, but areas which want to go up-market, probably have to go very down-market first.