Mixed feelings over Somerleyton Road developments

 By Saara Jaffery-Roberts 

Southwyck House and Somerleyton Road from the air. Somerleyton is to be redeveloped under the plans. Image courtesy of Future Brixton
Southwyck House and Somerleyton Road from the air. Somerleyton is to be redeveloped under the plans. Image courtesy of Future Brixton

Residents living close to a major development planned for central Brixton have told Brixton Blog they have mixed feelings towards the regeneration scheme.

Screen-Shot-2013-02-14-at-08.42.261-300x211Plans to build 280 new homes, a theatre and a chef school in Somerleyton Road were given the green light by councillors at Lambeth Town Hall on Monday. The council has now begun looking for a suitable developer to push the project forward.

When Brixton Blog visited the road this morning to speak to some of the residents, locals expressed frustration at the plans, with some saying they feel excluded by the process.

One resident, who gave his name as Derek, said: “They never ask me what I think. The system is the way it is, there is no consultation with the local residents – maybe one or two to abide by the law, but that’s it. All other plans have been disruptive to us. Good luck to them, but we’re not a part of it”.


Tameca, who also lives nearby, said that she thinks the redevelopment is a generally a good thing, but added: “I don’t feel included in the plans and there is no opportunity to express my voice. I want to get involved”.

Other residents openly welcomed the plans. Sonny, a long-term resident of Somerleyton Road, said: “Of course it is a good idea. Develop the place, why not? It doesn’t exclude me, I am happy about it”.

The transformation of a strip of land on the west side of the road is being run by the council. They are working with the Ovalhouse Theatre and the Brixton Green organisation,  who aim to make the provision of jobs and training opportunities  for local people “crucial” to the development.

On the benefits that the project will bring to the area, cllr Pete Robbins, cabinet member for housing and regeneration said: “This is a big step forward for a unique and exciting project that will deliver more jobs ad homes that people in Brixton can afford.


“Our partnership with Brixton Green and Ovalhouse Theatre is a model for how we want to work with the community to bring positive development to Brixton. A big thanks to the hundreds of local people who have contributed to the plans so far”.

Of key importance is the provision of affordable housing included in the development. Lambeth council has said that new ways to deliver affordable housing are “a priority”. A spokesperson said: “Of the 280 houses that could be built, at least 79 of these housing units could be the same level as council rent. A further 30 could be shared ownership, and similar and various schemes are being investigated by the local authority.”

When pressed for a more assured response, the council explained that at this stage this is just an outline proposal.

An interesting feature of the plans is the relocation of Ovalhouse Theatre, which currently resides in Kennington, to the site. The new building will have two theatres and a workspace for local cultural industries.

Theatre director Deborah Bestwick said: “Brixton used to have seven theatres. The arts have been part of Brixton’s identity for generations, the music halls, the bashment parties, a galaxy of famous poets, writers and actors.

“We want to contribute to what has always been Brixton’s strength, whilst creating facilities that will enhance what Ovalhouse can offer with a  brand new building  where theatre artists and young people can realise their potential and excite audiences. “

A ‘Walk and Talk’ event will be held on July 18 as an opportunity for locals to get involved and help to shape the brief that will be sent out to potential developers. Find out more here.


  1. “Lazy locals” – well if you don’t like the area and it’s community we’d be more than happy to see you sling your hook. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  2. Don’t be so bloody disingenous. You may not have noticed the increasingly escalating protests for these evictions and developments which are mostly for the rich. That’s beyond argument. People are getting up “off their behinds”. On the other hand, what are you doing? Defending gentrification, presumably because you fit right into that demographic yourself.

  3. To Mark n James, who also commented prior to me – you’re both totally right to point that out

    Derek is complaining they don’t ask what he thinks? It’s not their duty to, it’s HIS duty to get off his behind, go to the public Lambeth consultations, and make his voice and opinions heard. And if the proposed development really exasperates him and means that much, then he’ll have to make even MORE effort to get other local residents involved in the process, and start organising for their interests. How on earth can he expect anything different? Or something for nothing??!?!?!?!

    Same goes for Tameca – she says she doesn’t “feel included in the plans” (?!) and that “there is no opportunity to express” her voice? BS – these people clearly have no inclination to put in any effort regarding protesting this development, and expect any public consultation from the council to come directly to them, when it’s the other way round! How do they not understand it’s their DUTY to make their opinions and concerns heard through official channels. Again, how on earth can they expect anything different? It’s shocking.

    But then you know what? It’s the usual ignorance from lazy locals. It’s just so easy to sit there, whine and complain without actually doing anything of consequence.

  4. It’s been hard to avoid Brixton Green over the past couple of years.

    I think people have had plenty of chance to get involved.

  5. @mark i find a lot of people complain about being excluded but don’t actively engage enough with local newspapers/websites or groups to realise how often requests are put out for feedback. There is only so much you can do to reach people

  6. I seem to remember the Brixton Blog making several announcements regaring the progress and availability of the proopsals for all to give feedback on, so I am not sure why peple are saying they were excluded from the consultation process.

  7. Ha! You know that there has been suggested that Sydenham Hill train station should be re-branded as “South Dulwich,” The suggestion came about as there are already North, East and West Dulwich stations—why not a South to make the full set? Just think what it would do for property prices.

    As for re-doing this piece of Brixton, it would then have to be renamed “Very North Dulwich.”

  8. Robbins’ repetition of the phrase ‘could be’… could be substituted by ‘will probably never happen’… Yes, what a cynic, but after 34 years of Lambeth council misinformation and lies, cynicism is a natural response.

    This development isn’t for the current residents of Brixton, it’s for the residents they want to attract, bye bye Brixton, hello South South Dulwich (or something more catchy).

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