Lambeth council will, as expected, back Network Rail’s plans for the arches on Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road at a planning committee meeting next Tuesday (2 August).
In a detailed submission to the committee, officers recommend that the council grant conditional planning permission.
Existing traders in the arches have been given notice to quit by 19 August.
The plans would see a new walkthrough passage between the two roads, using what are now the S&S Textiles shop on Atlantic Road and a unit housing small stalls on Brixton Station Road.
The proposed “refurbishment and redevelopment” of the would include change of use for nine of them and alterations to others to provide 26 units and 13 kiosks. The passage giving access to Brixton overground station would be refurbished.
This would be a net increase of two retail units and five food and drink uses.
The council’s report considers this increase in food and drink units within the whole “Brixton primary shopping area”, rather than the arches alone, and says that the changes would result in retail units making up 66% of the total number of units in the area – above the required minimum of 60%. The proportion of food and drink uses would increase to 22%, just below the threshold of 25% set out in council policies.
While the plans would mean there were more than two in five consecutive units used for food and drink, the council says that Network Rail’s proposals “would largely replicate the existing situation and would facilitate the return of existing tenants”.
The report says Network Rail’s plans for a “stepped rent programme” intended to help the return of existing tenants would be secured through the provision of a letting strategy condition.
Details of this would have to be submitted and approved before first occupation of the refurbished units to ensure that the proposals would comply sections of the council’s local plan designed to protect small shop premises.
Network Rail’s plans would see major changes in the appearance of Atlantic Roads with the disappearance of its distinctive shop signs and frontages.
They would be replaced with glass-fronted units whose tenants would have to follow guidance on their signs and other displays.
Only Mash Brothers’ fish-themed decorative ironwork would escape.
The council says pedestrianisation and/or one-way traffic in Atlantic Road, is outside the remit of this planning report. But images it includes show a traffic-free Atlantic Road.
The report lists the many objections to Network Rail’s plans, but rejects them, often on the grounds that they are not relevant to a planning decision.
For instance, replying to objections that “The scheme will contribute to gentrification, social cleansing, further fragmentation of Brixton, loss of identity”, the report says: “This is not a material planning consideration”.
The report says that the majority of proposed food and drink uses on Brixton Station Road would be in the same places as the existing units.
But it notes that Network rail’s proposed scheme includes “the possibility of linking units to create larger food and drink related units which could create disturbance and noise over and above the existing levels”.
It says the council could be deal with this by imposing planning conditions to restrict the overall level of noise generated including controlling maximum sound levels and limiting hours of operation.
The planning committee meeting will be at the Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Road, SW9 7PH, starting at 7pm.