‘Forgotten’ UK estate stabbings in shadow of million-pound houses and sky pools

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    A rough housing estate where residents walk past the memorials of stabbing victims each and every day is surrounded by sky pools, Apple Stores and posh restaurants.

    In the shadow of the towering chimneys of one of the most luxurious and high-profile redevelopments in the country, the people of a 1950s housing estate just carry on.

    The Patmore Estate was built shortly after the war on the south bank of the river Thames near Battersea in a central but “almost forgotten district” of the capital. Writing in the 1990s author John O’Farrell noted how “you could see the House of Commons from the walkways on the Patmore Estate… but the people who lived there could not have been further from the government’s mind.”

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    Now 30 years later little has changed and as luxury development rips along the river bank between Vauxhall and Battersea Park Patmore, a “rough” estate that has provided housing to low-income families for decades, is under siege.

    Now, a single street separates Patmore from the newly converted £9billion Battersea Power Station, a glistening cathedral to the powers of investment and the conversion of industry into luxury. Upmarket shops, Apple’s London campus, expensive restaurants and glassy flats are the order of business in the city's newest upmarket district, but across the A3205 life remains unchanged – at least on the surface.

    Walking along Thessaly Road the enclosed geography of Patmore and its adjacent estates are impossible to ignore. Sandwiched between main roads, railways, the sprawling New Covent Garden Market, a small industrial estate and Battersea’s rampant development, the estates feel like a community under siege.

    The residents – some of whom have been there for many years – are all too aware of the changing landscape of their area.

    One mum, on her way to pick her child up from school and wheeling their scooter along, said that since more money had moved into the area it had become “quite rough”.

    “More incidents, more robbers. One guy was killed." Less than 50 metres up Thessaly from where we spoke a memorial remained for a local 32-year-old man known as Theo who was found dead on that spot with a "number of knife wounds."

    One note on the memorial reads: "Patmore legend, long live Theo, SW8, never forget.”

    Higher incomes in the area had driven up the cost of living. The mum, who did not want to give her name, explained: “It’s so expensive, you can’t buy nothing around here. [People here] are struggling, always struggling."

    The development in the area, she said, “was good for the rich people, but for the poor people it's not so good.”

    The scale of the money going into the area is astonishing. Just a few minutes walk north along the ribbon of plush new flats is the notorious Sky Pool, part of the Embassy Gardens development which recently drew criticism for its use of “poor doors”.

    Like with Patmore, these doors reflect a mindset of lower-income communities ideally not being seen and not heard as the salivating premium development has its way with the Nine Elms area.

    The Daily Star got chatting with a woman running out of a Patmore convenience store, a bottle of energy drink in hand. She appreciated the benefit of the development in the area but said she felt her community had been “forgotten.”

    “I literally just started a job over there,” she said. "For me it’s good because I’ve got two children – school’s close, work’s close – but the people… it’s got a bit much.”

    A quick look at Right Move tells you what she was implying. Scores of flats, many in the multi-millions, are up for sale in redevelopment. One spotted by the Star was going for £9million despite having just three bedrooms.

    “For me, when I go to Battersea Power Station, nothing really does it for me because I can’t afford anything. I feel like they’re doing so much up, that they’re forgetting about the people that need the help.”

    Some money has been going into Patmore and the adjacent estates. Last year Wandsworth Council approved new developments on the site of the former Patmore Centre with 39 of the 57 homes set to be affordable housing.

    But despite this, the impact on the community hasn’t been felt positively as of yet, and in some regards has even taken away from quality of life.

    The woman, who worked as a cleaner in the power station and who will remain unnamed, noted that building work in the area was currently using green space her children used to play in. As such they had to go elsewhere to play.

    “As you know, this estate ain’t exactly the safest of places so you don’t want your kids going through it alone,” she said.

    She lives with her two teenage children in a two-bed flat and as such has moved her bedroom into the living room to give them space, but explained that when she enquired about the new buildings on the estate she was told she wasn’t eligible.

    Asked if the wages from her job at the power station were enough to buy things in its posh new shopping centre she started laughing. “No! Oh no, not at all. I do get a discount now but I don’t think I’d be able to afford it still.”

    Her words made it hard to justify that the redevelopment had benefitted communities already living in this historically poor area of the capital. But what about the district’s new residents? What did they make of life here?

    Walking across the A3205 the XL bullies are quickly replaced by small fluffy dogs on designer leaders. The clink of glasses filled the air and expensive watches glistened in shop windows while outside some of the famous cars from the films of arch-toff James Bond were lined up for public display.

    The Star chatted to a resident who had been living in the Power Station for a year. He had floppy curtained hair and wore a smart long coat with a red scarf draped luxuriously over his shoulder.

    “It’s nice [here],” he said, talking about enjoying the surrounding area. “You go to [Battersea] Park, it is nice with trees and you can play tennis.”

    What about Patmore estate less than 100 metres across the road? “Uh, no, I’ve never been there.”

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