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Overseas investment into London: Imprint, impact and pied-a-terre urbanism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1308-1323
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number6
Early online date27 Jan 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Jan 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2017


This paper focuses on the spatial imprint and social impacts of the emerging geographies of concentrated overseas investment into London’s high-end real estate market, particularly the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. Framed by literatures on the 1% and the super-rich, and based on a mixed methodological approach of qualitative interviews with intermediaries and a quantitative mapping of overseas investors using 2011 census data, the results speak to the pervasive nature of ‘‘safe-haven’’ seeking in London real estate and its attendant transnational provenance set within a laissez-faire regulatory framework. In so doing, it makes an important contribution to the geographies of the super-rich, the class geographies of London, and the broader sense that overseas investors are producing what we call ‘‘pied-a-terre’’ urbanism which builds on a conventional gentrification framework (exclusionary displacement and a more affluent incoming group) but also exceeds it in several ways, leading to an increasingly socially attenuated landscape. This exceeding relates to: a different kind of rent gap, in that it is not speculative but safe-haven seeking, a guaranteed return on investment, and occurs without previous disinvestment; the agents are not traditional gentrifiers; the transnational nature of the process, with no attachment to particular places like in the traditional gentrification model; and a process focused on super-prime areas and completely independent of the existing gentrification narrative in London

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