Nour Cash & Carry, for many the beating heart of Brixton’s markets, has launched a petition against the notice to quit it has received from market managers.
The petition appeals to five decision-makers to stop the store being forced to quit Brixton’s covered markets – Lambeth council, local MP Helen Hayes, London mayor Sadiq Khan, and local councillors Donatus Anyanwu and Scarlett O’Hara.
You can sign at http://bit.ly/Nour-petition-2020
Nour has been ordered to leave its Market Row home of 20 years in July because the owners say most of it is needed for a new electricity sub-station. They have failed to offer Nour alternative accommodation that is equivalent and economically viable.
Hondo Enterprises, which owns Market Row and Brixton Village in partnership with the giant New York based investment fund Angelo Gordon, continues to insist that it wants Nour to stay in the market.
But it also insists that details of offers that it has made to the Shaheen family, the proprietors of Nour, over eight months of negotiations must remain secret.
Questioned by the Blog about this stance, a spokesperson for Hondo said: “We are aware that Nour have their own legal advice and we cannot comment on what they are being told by their lawyers.
“However, negotiations between the landlord and Nour are ongoing and are confidential, hence we also cannot give full details.”
Despite this the spokesperson continued to insist that Hondo is being “very transparent” with Nour, claiming: “We continue to hope that we can come to a resolution in which Nour remains in a unit within the market.”
If Nour can go, what else could we lose?
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In a statement, Hondo said: “We would like to make clear that we value Nour as an important part of the market and wish them to stay.”
The spokesperson claimed that Nour itself was not willing to negotiate, a charge that Nour rejects strongly but cannot disprove while it is prevented from giving its side of the story by legal restraints.
Both Hondo and UK Power Networks (UKPN), which supplies electricity to the markets, say that the current premises of Nour, which include a corridor linking Market Row to Electric Avenue, are the only place suitable to provide the power required.
In a planning application for the work agreed by Lambeth council in August last year, Hondo’s agents, DP9 planning consultants, said the new sub-station would allow more units in Market Row to instal “three-phase” kitchen equipment.
Three-phase power is usual for any premises larger than a house or small office.
Cllr Matthew Bennett, Lambeth council cabinet member for planning, investment and new homes, told the Blog: “Nour Cash & Carry is a hugely valued and important local business.
“They are a linchpin tenant in the Market Row covered arcade, and we are urging market owners, Hondo Enterprises, to support them to stay in the market.
“Lambeth councillors have met with the owners of this family business to hear their concerns, and will continue to lobby their landlords Hondo Enterprises to ensure the current situation can be resolved in a way that is satisfactory for all parties.”
Nour has been in its current location for two decades and was started by Salam Shaheen who had fled to Brixton from both Iran and Iraq.
It has already survived one crisis. In 2012 the former owners of Market Row demanded a 22% rent increase that would have made the business uneconomic. But customers and the Brixton community rallied round Nour and the danger was averted.
Salam Shaheen’s daughter Saja said that, like some other Market Row traders, their first dealings with Hondo came in the form of a lawyer’s letter.
It claimed Nour had no right to the Electric Avenue link which, it added, was a fire risk. London Fire Brigade later confirmed that, as far as it was concerned, it was safe to trade in the passageway.
“Brixton has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, but the change cannot be at the expense of the people who have always served the community,” said Saja Shaheen.
“Over the past two years, we have seen closures of many long-term and well established retailers in the market.
“This has had a dramatic effect on footfall and as a result, many of the remaining retailers are now suffering.”
Among the latest long-established traders to leave Brixton’s covered markets is United80, which had been in Brixton Village for nearly 10 years.
United80 is a cultural and creative hub and home to several independent brands and artists reflecting Black and underground London culture. It works with brands to launch new collections, art exhibitions and cultural events.
In a statement on social media, United80 said that it has moved on from its first home at 80 Brixton Village.
“There are many factors that have brought us to this decision,” it said. “However, it’s not a decision that has been taken lightly. This is not a goodbye or a farewell, just a transition and elevation of our brand.
“To ensure we are still able to work with and showcase the best in the arts and Black culture as we do, it is time to move into a new phase. Thank you for all your patronage and the great times we had in Brixton Village.
“We know this move is the beginning of even greater things to come. Stay posted for our next event and please join our mailing list.”
Hondo and Angelo Gordon are planning to transform the centre of Brixton with a 21-storey office building on Pope’s Road.
The Nour petition is at http://bit.ly/Nour-petition-2020