Friday, 18 September 2009

Guest Post: Cuntrification by Bearded Clam

The city of a thousand trades has become the city of one scam.

In the next month alone there's going to be just over a thousand horrifically over priced & under sized bland as fuck city centre yuppie boxes released onto the Birmingham property market. A market, which is already saturated with thousands of unsold identikit commuter cages owned by developers demanding half a mil for the privillege of living in a poorly converted office block without parking or amenities, does not need this.

Aside from the obvious fact that there's so little demand for these over hyped commercial conversions, around 2% occupancy is standard at the moment according to the Birmingham Post showing just what a mark up there is on these things, they're fucking up the social fabric of the city.

As long as I've been around, both Birmingham and it's City Centre have been truly shared spaces. Granted the different ranks of society have their own niches & areas but everyone has been able to come together in the centre to do business with each other and in the course of that come across people, things and attitudes they normally wouldn't when cocooned in their own strata. It made the city an interesting and exciting place to be for everyone. Not anymore though.

As the fools and their borrowed money have rushed in from the provinces the city has changed drastically. Whole communities of business people have been priced out of renting commercial space whilst thousands of less than wealthy people's homes have been flattened and the people & communities they once contained scattered to the outskirts.

Where once we had a plethora of independent shops, restaurants and businesses supplying anything you could possibly want & things you never even knew existed we now have endless strips of the same old chain stores & faddy food holes hawking the same old shite to advertising victims stuck on the early adopter treadmill.

We used to have underground music, art and film scenes responsible for the birth of pop cultures varying from heavy metal to new romantic music. We had studios, clubs, cafes, theatres, cinemas, bars, gyms for everything from fighting to dancing all doing their own things without the shackles of extortionate rents dictating their every move. All gone under the wave of cunty gentrification that has flooded our city.

A tangible example:

This leviathan of cuntrification, along with it's average of 80-90 defects per apartment and astronomical prices, stands on the spot where there was once our city's first late licenced bar. The bar Circo, a word play on it's location, wiped out to make way for a tower of morons represents the same tragedy to Birmingham's vibrancy and life as the conversion of the Hacienda into cunt boxes does to Manchester. The same is true of the old Methodist church we knew as the Que Club, acquired by speculative developers & left to rot for years on end, and scores of spaces that were once full of passion and energy which are now full of Ikea furniture and iPods.

As if the wholesale destruction of a city's cultural identity isn't enough we also have to consider the fallout which will come when the bubble bursts. Not just in Brum, but in all of our cities.

When those living on low interest cry poverty and conspicuous consumption is consigned back to the pop culture history books what will become of all our million pound penthouses and Selfridges? Will they have communities to make sure they don't fall apart leaving huge chunks of our cities unwanted and unuseable, as has happened to the satellite towns? Will they fuck.

We'll be left with white elephants galore pining for the days when our cities had soul.

Originally posted here.


John Bull said...

Mr Clam,i could not agree with you more,an inspired post.
Although i live on an isolated farm the nearest city to me Nottingham has undergone drastic changes over the years.
Here too there used to be a large variety of independant shops and bars etc,most have gone now to be replaced by giant corporations,to walk round the city centre is a choice of phone shops,clothing chains all selling the same tat,and pub chains with shit food and fizzy largers .
The city council in their stupidity, have tried to ban street peddlers, who at least gave shoppers an alternative choice....A boards which the few independant shops left use to advertise
themselves.. being off the main streets,...and to cap it all the fools are now going to charge companies etc a ¨parking levy¨of over three hundred pounds a year just to park your car at work,thats after youve paid around six hundred pounds for the parking licence.
These people are morons..they are ripping the soul out of our cities up and down the country....Socialists....
sucking the cock of corporations..and shafting the little guy..bastards.

Anonymous said...

Everything you and Mr Bull said, only on a smaller scale, is happening in Newcastle on Tyne.

The area I live in is even being renamed because the old name wasn't sexy enough for the hoped-for more-upmarket newcomers. No sign of them, yet, though.

Councils are cunts.

Anonymous said...

The only thing one can say, in support of Bumringham, is that it isn't Leeds.

wv: grating

Must mean the accent.

Dancinggreen said...

You have not a clue what you are talking about. I worked for a company which owned and ran the 250,000 sq. ft property which runs the whole of the other side of Smallbrook opposite said tower. We tried to encourage independent retailers by lowering rents in the shops; and we were prepared to let our office space at £10 sq. ft (City Centre well over £30 sq. ft), but all we got in response was whingeing and whining from tenants who would turn up to meetings to ask for rent reductions in their newish Mercedes; and others who simply refused to pay and then grumbled/took us to court when we changed the locks after running out of patience. Don't blame the people who buy the flats - if you want that sort of culture to be countered by something more alternative and interesting, stop moaning, go and open a cafe or a bar or a shop and put something back into society. Until you understand a little about the commercial world, and how 'independent shops and bars' choose to run their business relationships, and how difficult this makes it for the people who have been brave enough to invest huge sums of money in peripheral areas, keep your half-formed opinions to yourself.