Town hall tower protest pressures council

protest rally
Socially distanced protesters outside the town hall in Brixton

Local people from a variety of community groups took part in a controlled, Covid-safe demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall on Brixton Hill today (2 November) to protest against council support for a the planned 20-storey tower block in central Brixton.

In a statement, the campaign group NoHondoTower said it was to “send a clear message to Lambeth council that the Brixton community is watching them and holding them to account”.

Poster advertising Skin’s new book on Atlantic Road in Brixton

Supporters of the campaign include Skin, lead singer of the band Skunk Anansie, who grew up in Brixton. She has been outspoken against the proposed tower, publishing a video encouraging local people to sign the petition against it and to watch tomorrow’s online meeting of the planning committee.

“The council ‘have a mind to approve it’. Well we have a mind to DISAPPROVE it!” she says

“Why? Not because we don’t want change, not because we don’t want new people in Brixton … but because buildings like that do not benefit the area.

Steadman Scott, co-founder of the award-winning Afewee training centre based at Brixton Rec, said he is outraged at the lack of community consultation.

“What do WE want? That’s important.

“We built this part of London when nobody would come here and live. Now it’s the hip thing and they don’t want us to be a part of it?

“They should be putting up something that will bring unity to the community.”

man speaking at rally
Steadman Scott speaking at a Windrush scandal protest in Brixton’s Windrush Square

Local economist Susan Steed, a director of the Brixton Pound, has spoken of her fears about the effect on Brixton if the development goes ahead.

She said Hondo Enterprises (which is not the applicant for planning permission, but which already runs Brixton’s covered markets on a day to day basis for the Amsterdam-based company that is) would have “an unhealthy monopoly” over Brixton and its communities.

protest rally

She said: “Hondo already runs two covered markets. I think that is too much power for one landlord.

“They are pricing out some businesses that have been here for generations.”

Steed has also written about how the planning system is skewed in the favour of developers.

“As we look at the statements being made in support of the Hondo tower, we need to question who they really represent, and if the right voices are being heard,” she says.

protest rally

Extinction Rebellion Lambeth also opposes the plans. “Although Lambeth Council declared a climate emergency in January 2019, the planning department has recommended the application be approved even though the design does not meet the required BREEAM energy and sustainability standards,” it said in a statement.

“We are also gravely concerned by the lack of meaningful consultation with the community.”

Other concerns voiced by the campaigners include the huge carbon footprint of tall buildings and the lack of demonstrated demand for office space in the post-Covid world.

NoHondoTower Twitter feed

cgi image of tower over Brixton
Computer generated image of the proposed tower seen from outside Lambeth town hall on Brixton Hill