SAVE OUR SHOPS: Impact report shows negative consequences of evictions

Artwork by Nathan Bowen. Photo by Ruth Waters
Artwork by Nathan Bowen. Photo by Ruth Waters

As part of the campaign to save the businesses in Brixton’s railway arches on Atlantic and Popes Road, local volunteers have compiled a report about the impact of Network Rail’s plans on the community.

With the help of Brixton Pound, six volunteers did research in the area and conducted interviews with customers and affected traders.

The report’s authors said they found “strong indications of highly negative consequences” if the rent-rises and evictions were to happen.

The report summarises their findings, makes recommendations to traders and Lambeth council and calls for Network Rail to “abandon the plans for refurbishment and associated evictions until a fully fledged impact assessment of the proposals, including the impact on the wider community has been conducted.”

Their key findings are below, you can read the full report on the Save Brixton Arches website.

Key points from the report:

● Long-standing businesses that operate under the railway arches along Atlantic and Brixton Station Road face at best huge upheaval and uncertainty, and at worst the end of their business and community ties in Brixton due to Network Rail’s plans to refurbish its archway units and command higher rents.

● People with over 30 different cultural heritages make up the business community on these roads, serving an even wider and more diverse customer base, the majority of which is low to middle income. An overwhelming majority have been there for over ten years, many of them for more than one generation.

● None of the businesses we interviewed said they’d be able to operate in Brixton if forced to move out for a year (as proposed by Network Rail) and/or if rents increase significantly.

● Closures will have a much wider negative effect on the very diverse local communities served, and the social fabric of Brixton. All customers we spoke with were unhappy about the plans and would lose an important shopping outlet serving their needs.

● Traders and local residents are also disappointed with Lambeth Council, which in their view has failed to protect the interests of the community.

● Network Rail has ostensibly failed to communicate the rationale for their proposals or any detail about their plans and how they will impact individual units. Such lack of transparency prevents the traders to engage meaningfully in the process.

● We make recommendations for Network Rail, Lambeth Council and the traders as this process goes forward. We also suggest ways in which others who care about this issue can get involved.