On the eve of Brixton Pound’s first birthday, Brixton has become a ‘clone town’, according to a survey released today by the new economics foundation. It studied the number of chain stores in towns and boroughs across Britain to highlight the importance of a diverse high street.
Despite its endorsement of the alternative currency, Brixton moved from ‘border’ status in 2005 to ‘clone’ status this year. The survey was conducted in 2009, before the additions of H&M, Starbucks and T-Mobile. It found that over half of Brixton’s high street shops are now chains. Nef created a scoring system which gave Brixton 50.5 points out of 100, with twons scoring over 65 classified as ‘home’ towns.
The report cites Philippe Castaing, owner of Opus and founder of Brixton Green, who has said that “Brixton is one of the most expensive high streets in London in terms of commercial rent, a major barrier for independent businesses.”
Nef first conducted the Clone Town survey in 2005, when Exeter came in as Britain’s blandest high street. This time, Cambridge took the bottom spot. But it wasn’t all bad news for South London – Streatham scored highly, with 76 on nef’s scale of 100, and was classed a ‘home’ town.
The survey is slightly skewed, however, because it only looks at the high street, not taking into account the number of independent shops elsewhere in the area. In Brixton, of course, many independent businesses have opened in the past year in the market, so it’s unclear whether it would remain a ‘clone’ town were the survey to be extended.
What do you think? Is Brixton ‘clone’ or ‘home’?