POP Brixton accused of charging “unaffordable” rents

Shipping containers arrive at the POP Brixton site

POP Brixton has been accused of charging rents that are far to high for small businesses to afford.

One owner told Brixton Blog that for a small unit he was quoted a rent of £900 plus per month, a figure that “no beginner company could likely pay”.

The “community campus for startups, small businesses, local entrepreneurs and community organisations” on Pope’s Road, on the site of the ice rink and car park, has recently closed the first round of applications for enterprises to operate from shipping container units.

The project, formerly Grow:Brixton, will have control of the site until at least October 2017.

Stuart Everitt, director of Marmalade Productions a small film production company in Brixton, said that he was attracted to POP Brixton because it was sold as a community venture with opportunities for smaller businesses to find a home with reasonable rents.

Everitt said: “There was an enormous application process but there is no actual indication of what the rents would be.”

“I inquired personally and was told there are a range of prices depending on the size of your project. However, after I applied I was told that to rent a container for six people it would be £900 per month, and that didn’t seem to include VAT, electricity, internet, etc.

“That is a hell of a lot of money,” he said. “I just can’t afford that and I don’t know many startups who would be able to either. It is a lot for what is essentially a storage container in a car park.”

20141208-Pop-Brixton-image-crop“I’m going to have to look outside of Brixton which is really sad because I live here and I make films here and I want to be able to interact with my local community.”

However, POP Brixton have said that the issue of rents is more complicated than that.

Philippe Castaing, commercial director of POP Brixton, said: “Yes, some businesses will be charged top prices – on par with rents across Brixton at the moment – but others won’t be.

“The commercial rent will support the startups and community events and programmes in POP Brixton.

“We don’t have precise figures of how many will be getting the cheaper option and who will be paying more right now as we have only just closed the application process.

“We can’t do social enterprise unless we make money. Unless you charge a lot to people who can pay it, you can’t support the smaller and community-based businesses.

“There is an obsession over how much we charge per unit but it is bigger than that, it is how many jobs are we creating here, how many hours of free community workshops are we doing – that’s what people should look at. ”

A spokesperson for Lambeth council said: “Tenants will be gaining access to a flexible unit at the heart of an innovative incubator project. The containers are fully insulated and double-glazed. The rental changes also cover a range of facilities including site security, 24-hour access and cycle storage.”

“Demand for the units has well exceeded supply. The potential successful tenants will be notified shortly and a waiting-list will be put together for those who still want space.”


  1. […] “Tenants will be gaining access to a flexible unit at the heart of an innovative incubator project. The containers are fully insulated and double-glazed. The rental changes also cover a range of facilities including site security, 24-hour access and cycle storage. Demand for the units has well exceeded supply.” (Lambeth Council) […]

  2. I’ve been involved with some of these schemes in the past as a start-up business (renting a shipping container in a very similar East London development), and while I think the intentions are good, the only people who ultimately benefit from them are the property owners. Most start ups don’t really need an office, and are being sold on the idea that a ‘creative community’ will provide them with the networking opportunities to create and grow. What really happens is that you get a bunch of more or less broke young hopefuls together who can’t help each other, spend the money they have eating and drinking in the area cafes, who put a great deal of effort and hope into their business, making the area vibrant and creative as a by-product, only to be chewed up and spit out when their dreams of profiting financially don’t materialise. They’d be better off working from home and putting that money into their business than throwing it away to be part of ‘something amazing’. Maybe I’m wrong and Pop Brixton really has the community at heart, but the way this is being handled (the obscurity around the application process, etc) suggests not.

  3. I wish this project would open so all this speculation would stop. I don’t know how anyone can know who is going where, for what price, whilst its still a building site.
    Marmalade films is obv pissed off he hasn’t got a spot, so he’s bad mouthin the project, its fine, his proposal was probably shit. It would be good to get some public prices from grow brixton instead of hearing random peoples opinions, its ridiculous.

    • Hello JH,

      Thank you for your comments, we are also very eager to be up and running!

      Our role is not to give space to who may ask but assess the validity of their application. It is clear from the application that Stuart is at the very early stage of his business and our advice was to take one step at a time, I don’t think Stuart can actually afford any office space yet and should favour a hot desk environment with no long term commitment.

      It is also a shame as we have many applicants like Stuart that we are trying to “group” so they can collectively afford an office space and enhance their business network and potential. For Stuart to go to the Blog with inaccurate information only further demonstrates his inexperience at running a business.

      Indeed shipping containers are metal boxes and can be purchased for 1 to 1.5 K but to turn them into “serviced offices” cost us 10 to 15 K depending on their size. This is without the site remedial work (we are not a car park by the way), utilities, building control and regulation (fire alarms/acces/etc) so the site is fit for public use.
      The total built cost (without ongoing management and care taking costs) is over 1M pounds!

      I can not comment on Stuart’s mood, just sad he might miss an opportunity to be part of an amazing collaborative campus.

      We are planning to be opened by mid May with our first tenants moving to fit our their units in April, it is coming!



  4. So much i’ve read about this project suggests that the whole thing as completely morphed away from the social enterprise it began as. How long before high-street shops and brands start moving in to ‘subsidise’ the more local start-ups.

    • Hello Mark,

      Pop will never have permanent brand presence, our incoming tenants are mostly from Lambeth in general and Brixton in particular.
      I spent a year at the School of Social Entrepreneur and could take you through our ethos if you wanted to meet for a coffee?




  5. In the end is all about money ,
    what uppen with business can’t pay ??????

    is disgusting.

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