By James Mayer, local democracy reporter
Residents on a Battersea estate near London’s Sky Pool are calling for social housing to be built as they feel the area “doesn’t feel like home” anymore.
Some residents on the Patmore Estate near Battersea said gentrification is encouraging people worldwide to look at the area as a place, but fear they could be priced out.
Just north of the estate is Nine Elms, the US Embassy is found along with flats, restaurants and a clear, 25-metre-long pool bridged between two buildings 35 metres high. The pool opened in May 2021.
The plan to build the pool was announced back in 2015 by Irish developer Ballymore, but was dismissed by some initially as a PR stunt.
But residents of the Patmore Estate, which was built in the 1950s, have mixed feelings about the pool and the gentrification of Nine Elms.
Some want new developments to be more inclusive as they felt Nine Elms was only for the rich and believed new developments had taken away from the character of Battersea. Some felt the area was not home to them anymore.
Martin Smith, who is originally from Pimlico but moved to the area around 35 years ago, said the pool looks “cool” but “where there’s a hole, they’re going to build”.
“What annoys me is that you see a lot of buildings but there’s hardly anyone in them and it’s people that need flats like myself,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“There’s lots of people that need a place to stay, especially the rough sleepers.”
He added: “A lot of [the flats] should be given to the council, I know some are, but not a lot.
“There’s a lot of buildings going up but there’s no one helping the people that need them.
“It’s good to build in places that make it look smart, but there should be more social housing involved.”
Emily Rampat, an account manager for an industry company, who also lives on the Patmore Estate, said: “Even though it is obviously gentrification, and even people who live in the apartment can’t even use the pool, it’s only for a select number of those people, I don’t view it as completely negative thing.
“The area is encouraging people worldwide to look at Battersea, so I think it’s a good thing in general.”
Only exclusive Embassy Gardens members are able to use the Sky Pool.
Emily added: “I think it would be really good once they fully open it up to have things that are more inclusive for everyone within the area, and not just the people who live there.
“Gentrification is happening all over London so it’s something that people have to get used to as long as they don’t completely price people out.
“Hopefully the council will not neglect other areas… like this estate for example.”
Ita Dingwall, a 62-year-old resident of the Patmore Estate for over 50 years, said: “I used to be able to see St Paul’s Cathedral and the Post Office Tower years ago from my balcony but now all you can see is that funny building that kind of looks like a fridge.”
She said the gentrification of Nine Elms is “just awful and has nothing for local people – it’s all for the rich.”
Her thoughts on the Sky Pool were that “it’s just with the rich again, they can do what they want, if you got money, you can do what you want.”
Ita also wants more social housing in the gentrified parts of Battersea.
Brenda Dickson who has lived on the estate for almost 24 years said the gentrification is “more inviting now” and “nice, but it’s taken away the character of the old Battersea”.
She said: “I would like it to stop personally. I think it’s getting to the point where we don’t recognise where we live any more. It doesn’t feel like home.”
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