London shifts at what seems like a faster pace than ever before. Of course, this is mostly an illusion: if we think our changes are different, so did previous generations. This lack of perspective makes predicting the future next to impossible, but the temptation is equally difficult to resist. Based on emerging trends – the only basis for informed guesswork – we can expect some of what we take for granted about early 21st-century London to vanish over the next 30 years.
Neighbourhoods associated with ethnic groups are likely to change and, eventually, disappear. We know that first-generation immigrants tend to gather in particular locations, and that subsequent generations disperse as their networks and businesses grow. Huguenot and Jewish Spitalfields are a thing of the past, so will Banglatown eventually vanish, too, of its own accord? If so, high property prices will make the Bangladeshi arrivals of the 1970s the last generation of immigrants to find sanctuary in Spitalfields.
Older communities in inner locations are most at risk: already, the future of Chinatown is much debated; Caribbean Brixton is at the centre of intense gentrification debate, while Latin Elephant and Castle relies on cheap space that is now vanishing fast. Tooting Bec, next stop along the Northern Line from thoroughly gentrified Balham, is no longer quite as distinctively South Indian as it once was. How long will Green Lanes remain a Turkish centre, Peckham a Nigerian expat community, or even New Malden a Korean hotspot?
Neighbourhoods with new stations are also prime candidates for change. Recent public transport improvements in London have seen newly connected places developing at speed. The Overground effect can be seen from Dalston to Forest Hill, and Crossrail is remaking swathes of central London. Old Oak Common and Park Royal will start to become very different places once it is finished, while Acton and Forest Gate will be overlooked no longer.
Next up are the Bakerloo Line extension and Crossrail 2. The former could create vanishing acts in Camberwell and Peckham Rye, or along the Old Kent Road, depending which route is chosen. Either way, New Cross Gate, Lewisham and Catford will all see major changes. And Crossrail 2 could make Tooting Broadway the Dalston of the south.
Finally, if High Speed 2 is built, it will require the demolition of much of Drummond Street, which is tucked away next to Euston Station and packed full of excellent Indian restaurants.
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