GRAYS+ME: AN ALTERNATIVE MAPPING PROJECT, GRAYS, 2019
Thurrock has received £6.6 billion worth of regeneration funds which in turn will create an estimated 14,000 new homes and 31,450 jobs across the borough.
Grays in particular has received around £10 million.
This money has been primarily directed towards the town centre and station quarter (to develop its retail and leisure focus); Grays Riverside (to establish an attractive and lively riverfront); Town Centre North (to enhance the location for smaller, independent and specialist retailers); London Road and Hogg Lane (to reconnect this residential area with central Grays); and the Seabrooke Rise Estate (to improve the physical environment of the area).
This investment will undoubtedly bring about change, typically referred to as ‘development’, ‘gentrification’ or ‘regeneration’.
For supporters, this change will revitalise Grays, increase its diversity, create work and employment opportunities and raise aspirations amongst those who are most marginalised.
For critics, it is neoliberalism gone wild, characterised by labour exploitation, social cleansing and unchecked property markets.
However, these debates often overlook the nuances, memories and stories associated with the places subject to change.
It is from this viewpoint that Grays+Me began its journey to co-create a series of alternative and accessible maps of Grays. Pulling together the findings from a number of community arts workshops that took place between January and March 2019.
The various alternative maps were inspired by the diverse residents who took part in the workshops and imparted their local knowledge and personal memories.