Lambeth Councillor Jack Hopkins says he believes there has been “some progress” for the shops in Brixton’s arches facing eviction.
In a blog post on the Future Brixton website, Hopkins said “we’ve won an important first assurance.”
He said: “Network Rail have listened to concerns raised by the businesses and the Council, and guaranteed continuity of trading until after Christmas, rather than what was a startlingly quick six months. I know that an additional four months does not solve the problems but it does provide some certainty for businesses and their employees and it’s a good initial concession.”
He also pointed to Network Rail’s statement which said: “Network Rail recognises that we have to look after our current tenants. They will be given the opportunity to come back, the company will help identify new or temporary premises and will also help with expenses
“The new premises will have rents that are fair and are set at or below the market rate for this area. It is in no-one’s interest to have empty premises.”
Hopkins said: “So, some progress but there needs to be an offer of proper compensation to employees should businesses have to temporarily suspend trading at some point, and I’ve asked Network Rail to consider phasing the works rather than everyone having to temporarily relocate in one go.
“The Council will continue to support the local businesses that are at the heart of Brixton and add to the diversity and individuality of Lambeth.
“I think this shows that Network Rail are listening and not simply intent on kicking out all the businesses in a quest for profit. The approach has been insensitive and clumsy, but now that Network Rail are meeting with all businesses to discuss specific and individual concerns, I am more confident in them that they want to do the right thing.”
The question remains, however, about what Network Rail actually means by “rents that are fair.”
One trader reported on the urban75 forums that he was told his rent would be tripled, unaffordable to most of the businesses currently occupying the units.
Network Rail say they don’t want empty premises, but whatever they make the rents this is an unlikely outcome.
What is likely is that the units will be filled with big high street chains eager to cash in on Brixton’s new popularity and can afford a higher rent.
You can sign the petition to stop the eviction of Brixton beloved shops here.