This piece originally appeared on the Bash the Rich blog.
Fashionable Manchester-based property developers Urban Splash have recently pitched up in Bristol where they’re trying to bring their marketing-heavy gentrification plans for loft living yuppies to Hartcliffe, a working class area to the south of the city.
Their first project is the conversion of a deserted 1970s Imperial Tobacco factory on the fringes of the city into trendy loft apartments with various ‘green’ features.
Despite having built nothing as yet, Urban Splash have, however, already set about aggressively marketing and selling the apartments at prices way beyond anything locals can afford.
This expensive marketing effort is presumably for the benefit of investors rather than locals as Urban Splash’s sales pitch lacks any basic knowledge about Bristol, to say the least.
They confidently claim, for instance, that “Bristol is a city bubbling with . . . Banksy balloon festivals”! Which is partially true because Banksy is a native of Bristol and the city does have a balloon fiesta but unfortunately the two have very little to do with each other.
They also have plenty to say about the old Imperial Tobacco factory site they are converting. “It had a very 20th century use, too. A proper headquarters, brimming with confidence,” they say. “A utopia for workers and bosses alike,” they gush.
Really? A workers utopia? This might come as news to the people that worked at the site and those that recall that the factory was bought by the Hanson Trust plc in 1986.
The Hanson Trust was of course owned by Thatcher’s favourite corporate raider and asset stripper, James Hanson who, it can safely be said, created very few workers utopias during his career.
What he did do though was put plenty of workers on the dole throughout the 1980s by selling off his companies’ assets for personal gain. This is exactly what he did in Bristol too where he threw thousands on to the dole and economically depressed a whole area of the city for a generation.
The same area now nobly being “regenerated” by trendy property developers from Manchester!
Urban Splash: rewriting history in a town near you soon.
(Cartoon by Evelyn Post. Evelyn Post is The Bristol Blogger’s resident cartoonist. He has a woman’s name)