We are “all to blame” for the gentrification of Balfron Tower, claims Dr. Owen Hatherley.

I thoroughly agree that Owen Hatherley, and many of his ethically-challenged self-entitled chums, are certainly to blame for the gentrification of Balfron Tower, and also for the overall dismantlement of social housing in the United Kingdom in general, during a housing crisis.

But they are not the people that have to live with the consequences of what they support, or apologise for; they are not displaced from their communities, they have not been thrown out of their homes so they can be sold off to rich people who have come into Poplar and brutally attacked our working class community, following Poplar Harca’s CEO Steve Strides proclamation of “doing God’s work in Poplar” to create “a new Shoreditch”, brutally displacing working class communities and demolishing our social housing, dismantling the social tenancy system to build part-ownership models, financially out of the reach of almost everybody in our community, whilst their advertising hoardings boast of “affordable” housing that is being delivered in such small numbers it cannot be considered anything more than tokenism. Most of these people do not even live in the communities that they are waging class war against.

Nobody ever voted for Poplar Harca to operate as a local authority, yet they operate in this exact way. Nobody ever voted for them to operate or control parks, schools, markets, housing, transport, police, pubs, arts centres, community centres or to brand their name across every school child in Poplar.

Welcome to socialism in 21st Century Britain.

A few social housing tenants and leaseholders did get to vote for Poplar Harca, in a ballot transfer many years ago, where billions of pounds of publicly-owned housing stock was transferred, mostly free of charge, to a “Housing Association and Regeneration Communities Association”, who then mortgaged our entire community, via Bernadette Conroy, a Poplar Harca board member and a Vice President of HSBC, all with full liability firmly placed upon the Tower Hamlets tax payer.

But these tenants were lied to, they voted for Poplar Harca because they were told that they would be given new windows, new kitchens and new bathrooms. They were not told the truth that they would be brutally and ruthlessly thrown out of Balfron Tower, or their estate demolished and their family displaced, so Poplar Harca could do sleazy deals with sleazy property developers, like Londonewcastle.

I wrote a short thread on twitter, exploring some more of the people who are “all to blame”, read not to blame, for the social cleansing of Balfron Tower, from the blatant eugenics-like hatred of the working classes from Arts Council England funded Bow Arts, to apologists for social cleansing such as Anna Minton of the University of East London and Owen Hatherley.

We are not “all to blame” for the social cleansing of Balfron Tower. But a lot of people are; from property developers, journalists, politicians (all Labour), artists, arts organisations, Arts Council England, Historic England, National Trust, British Council, University of East London and University of the Arts, amongst many others.

It is not now, nor will it ever be acceptable to invest in, or live, in a regenerated Balfron Tower that has 0% social housing. The experiment in privatising our social housing has not worked, and it’s time to nationalise all housing built with public funds, or housing that as been built to replace it. The attacks on our working class communities have gone too far and people must be held to account. Owen Hatherley’s defence of Studio Egret West, and the vandalism done to both the building and the community will not be forgotten.

Balfron Social Club has campaigned since 2014 to retain 50% social housing in a refurbished Balfron Tower. The current amount being offered is zero. This is not good enough. My advice for those considering purchasing or living in the all new-improved Balfron Tower, would be to familiarise yourself with High Rise by JG Ballard.

You’re going to need it.

Balfron Social Club, Poplar

3rd June 2019

CHAT UP An open letter to my female friends by Simon Elmer, Architects for Social Housing aka ASH (with RIBA registered architect Geraldine Dening).

This blog post is a diversion from our usual writing on the subject of the social cleansing of Balfron Tower, however, we thought that it was necessary to remind people about Simon Elmer and Geraldine Dening of Architects for Social Housing and how they operate.

ASH have bullied and intimidated housing activists and those challenging gentrification again and again, bullying and attacking residents, particularly those that criticise the appalling way that Simon Elmer treats people; particularly women and homosexuals.


A somewhat delusional Simon Elmer, mocking up stories about himself in the Evening Standard, 2016.

ASH has architectural plans to sell. They are not there to help you save your community, they are there to exploit it, and exploit you. Geraldine Dening, a Cambridge graduate, and Simon Elmer, who has a PhD from UCL do not live in social housing and they never have done.

They are astroturfing our housing crisis.

Geraldine’s fashionable brutalist apartment on the Cotton Gardens Estate was bought as an ex-right to buy property. They are the problem, not the solution, which comes as no surprise however, given their elite education. These people just see you as £££ signs in their eyes. They don’t care about you or your community; they care about how much profit they can make from it. They are the same people, educated in the same tradition as the people who are trying to demolish your homes and gentrify your community.

If that doesn’t offend you, then take a read of Chat Up, an Open Letter to my Female Friends by Simon Elmer. Don’t be fooled into thinking this was youthful transgression, this was written in 2016 and only scratches the surface of a very sick individual.

“CHAT UP An Open Letter to my Female Friends

On the weekend I tried to chat up a girl. I was in the pub, and a girl across the way was checking me out, mildly, but enough to exchange a few smiles. So I sent my girlfriend over to chat her up. Rare is the girl who can resist Geraldine’s advances, as some of you will know, but this one did. So I went over myself. She was German, which wasn’t a good start. We chatted. We compared the relative merits of Fassbinder and Herzog. I was drunk and boring, I admit, and it was rubbish. I made light of how crap I was doing, although I thought her coldness toward me a little excessive. No doubt she objected to me sending a proxy. So after a while I retired and my friends and I had a laugh about how badly I did. But – and this is the point of my story- although I had noting invested I this, although, if I had actually been interested in her, I would never have approached her like that, and although the whole thing was a laugh to me if not to her, I steal feel the bat squeak of rejection, the remembrance of what this used to be like, pierce the centre of myself. And I thought, fucking hell, this is what most men still have to go through even to get to talk to a woman, let alone have sex with her! Something very wrong has happened to the relationship between the sexes since the Neolithic. There’s a line on an Apollo 440 track I remember that goes ‘What a man has to go through for a piece of arse in the 21st Century is highly ridiculous’ – or something like that. Is there any wonder there’s so much resentment, misogyny and violence in men’s feelings towards women? I’m not saying it’s women’s fault- no woman is responsible for the violence of which she is the victim- but it’s something whose root causes they share in. I have to be careful here, as in no way do I want to offer an apology for non-consensual violence against women, which is everywhere and increasing these days. But it’s not something that is inherent in male sexuality- although I think it is, and in women’s sexuality too, if only they’d admit it. It also comes- and I can vouch for this myself- from years and years of rejection after rejection, and the desperation and resentment that builds. This is a feeling shared by every man I have ever known, including your boyfriend, brother, and the sons you may one day have- whether they admit it or not. And yet we wonder why the world is hooked on porn and women can’t live up to its gratifications. I’m not saying women are wrong to say no to drunken gits like myself trying to chat them up in pubs.- and God knows, with the little boys and wankers you’ve got to chose (sic) from I have nothing but pity for you. But I can’t help thinking it wasn’t meant to be like this, that there was meant to be some sort of reciprocity of desire between the sexes, instead of the oh-so-fucking-boring thrust and parry that characterises every attempt at seduction. If you want to now what men are like once you remove the barriers women erect around their bodies, look at gay men, who are essentially a bunch of dogs that will fuck anything, anywhere, anyhow. If men weren’t so fucking ugly I’d try it myself. But women have to start taking responsibility for the men they’ve created- because let’s face it, when it comes to heterosexual sex women hold all the cards, make all the rules. Men are just trying to get in the game. Women weren’t meant to stand guard over their cunts like they were some kind of commodity to sell, which is exactly what they have become, as every media image or night down the pub reaffirms. They were meant to have their own desires, instead of being merely the object of ours. That, for me, is what a woman is, rather than these traders in their own flesh who exist before the dark mirror of our stares. It’s one of the reasons I love my ugly girlfriend- about whom no truer words have been written than these, which I commend to the instruction of yourselves and your daughters:

Whores- My most lovely one, in such wise are called the public victims of the debauchery of men, creatures prepared at all times to surrender their persons, whether from temperament or for reward; happy and deserving creatures common opinion assails but whom license crowns and who, far more necessary to the society which they strive to serve than are prudes, forgo the esteem an unjust society denies them. All hail to those in whose eyes this title is an honor! Such are truly lovable women, the only authentic philosophers! As for myself, dear heart, I, who for twelve years have endeavored to merit the laurel, I assure you that if I do not work as a whore, I always play as one. Better still, I love thus to be named when I am fucked: ’tis a vilification that fires my brain.

-Marquis de Sade”

By Simon Elmer, Architects for Social Housing. 2016.

You can find out more about Simon Elmer and Architects for Social Housing here:



Further public comment on Simon Elmer, of ASH, from Graham Jones, much respected and liked East London activist.


Solar Cunt and Pissing Cock. Another insight into the mind of Simon Elmer. From 2016.

There is an interesting discussion about ASH and Simon Elmer on the Urban75 forum, posted in 2020:


Balfron Social Club

19th April 2018