Refurbishment vs demolition? Social housing campaigning for degrowth

Mara Ferreri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Degrowth aims to challenge a political imaginary dominated by growth and development and offers an interpretative frame for interdisciplinary debates within academia and arenas of policy-making, civil society organising and social movements. This chapter argues the need to examine the potential role of existing dwellings for a wide-reaching housing degrowth agenda. The analysis of a high-profile campaign against the demolition of the social housing Heygate estate in Southwark (London) shows the centrality of the politics of valuation within the wider ‘demolition versus refurbishment’ debate. Conflicts of valuation are embedded in the balance of priorities that motivate decision-making processes around the future of social housing within the ‘refurbishment versus demolition’ debate and rationale for refurbishment. Monetary logics of cost-benefit analysis have led to complex structures of subcontracting and a diminished accountability to residents. Beyond a demand to account for the social and environmental costs of demolition, a degrowth agenda for decolonising the imaginary of social housing through retrofitting requires a fundamental reassertion of the value of human life above urban growth and economic profit, and of low-income residents’ right to re-imagine and decide the future of their homes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHousing for Degrowth
Subtitle of host publicationPrinciples, Models, Challenges and Opportunities
EditorsAnitra Nelson, François Schneider
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781351365246
ISBN (Print)9781138558052
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Environmental Humanities


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