National Rail’s redevelopment of Brixton and an increase in parking rates has local shop owners fearing for the future. By Danae Diz. Sub Editor Hayley Daen.
National Rail, which is a landlord for a number of retail premises along Brixton Station Road and Atlantic road, is seeking to redevelop the area. Local shop owners who are based under the railway arches are currently faced with eviction and no place to go.
The gentrification of Brixton is not the local shop owners’ only problem. Parking prices in Brixton have tripled in the last three years. The cost of an hours parking has risen from one to three pounds an hour.
Traders are finding that not only is it too expensive for them to park whilst they are at work but also too expensive for their clients, resulting in them shopping elsewhere.
Talik, 35, the manager of a butcher in Brixton says: “People prefer to go to Peckham now because there is more parking.”
His clients, some of whom have been shopping at the butcher for over ten years, are now branching out to other places including Camberwell where they can afford to park while doing their local shopping.
Talik is becoming increasingly concerned that he will no longer be able to afford to park his car while he is at work because “locals can’t even afford parking anymore, I can’t even afford to load and unload my merchandise. By the time I’ve unloaded the car I’ll get up to an £80 fine!”
The tripling of rent and parking costs leaves many Brixton shop owners fearing they will no longer be able to sustain their businesses.Talik says: “Soon we’ll have to move out of London- it’s only good for posh people with big money who can afford to live here. We can’t afford it anymore.”
His rent has risen from £225 a month to over £450 in the last three years, leaving him in a struggle to pay his bills.
Across the street at Catwalk Hair and Beauty Mohammed, the owner, faces the same problem. “I’m not worried about the evictions,” he says.
“We’ll come to that when our letter arrives.” His main problem is that clients who have visited his shop for decades are no longer coming.
“Parking is a big problem here, I can barely afford to park my own car. Thank god my brother and I share a ride here and split the cost because honestly, the money I make would all be gone on parking.”
Mohammed says that local shops are rapidly going out of business, and National Rail’s new plans to refurbish Brixton will leave even more shop owners on the street.
“Number 41-43 used to be with us, but because of the rent raises, they had to go. He was closed for two years, and now some other fancy place opened up.”
The Brindisa bar and shop, now in the place of an old ethnic fabric shop, is one of the many new and modern stores opening in Brixton and leaving local owners on the street.
Bella, the owner of A & C Continental Grocers tells me: “In five years’ time Brixton will look like Southbank: it will just be a really lovely place to go for a walk on a Sunday with all the other tourists.” Bella believes that soon big chains such as Pret a Manger and Wagamama will dominate, pushing out the small businesses as they will no longer be able to afford to stay. She says “Brixton will no longer be the tight community it is now.”
Alexandra Leonards explores this further in her article on the redevelopment of Brixton’s railway arches.