In a blow to the Save Brixton Arches campaign, Network Rail has told tenants they will not be phasing their planned evictions.
The company is refurbishing the the arches on Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road between Brixton Road and Pope’s Road. Over 30 businesses will be evicted while it takes place and once completed tenants will face rent increases, which many will be unable to afford.
The businesses, as well as Streatham MP Chuka Umunna and Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes, had called on Network Rail to provide a scheme in which not all the shops would leave at the same time.
They say a phased approach would help with continuity of trading but, in a letter to the affected businesses, Network Rail bosses said this has now been ruled out.
Tenants have heard nothing more about their right to return, or how high the rents will be, but say the latest letter doesn’t bode well for them.
Jose Cardoso from A & C Continental Deli said: “It’s disappointing. They’ve had so much time to consider this and yet after months we are back to square one.
“It just shows how little they are listening to us.”
Network Rail said “owing to the layout and interconnection of the rear areas” phasing is too complicated.
A spokesperson said: “It will cost more and would therefore significantly reduce the amount of compensation we can afford to pay to the tenants.”
They said they believe the work will take 12 months to complete.
A recent report by community members on the impact of the plans said they found strong “indication of highly negative consequences” if the rent-rises and evictions were to happen.
The report calls for Network Rail to “abandon the plans for refurbishment and associated evictions until a fully fledged impact assessment of the proposals… has been conducted.”
The Save Brixton Arches campaign has vowed to fight on: it now sells T-shirts and badges and they have launched a crowdfunder to help cover costs. (You can donate at here)
Earlier this month when the banner over the Fishmongers, Mash and Son’s, which said “Triple the rents? You must be squidding!” was taken down (No-one knows who by and Network Rail says it was not to do with them) Lorne Mash said: “We’ve got more where that came from and we won’t stop putting them up!”