Councillors voted to impose a condition of stepped rents, as the refurbishment of Brixton Arches was agreed at Planning Committee on Tuesday.
Since Network Rail’s plans were made public Labour Councillors have pressed them to offer a fairer deal to traders. The condition will mean that traders will pay 50% of market rent for the first 3 years and below market rate for at least 7 years. Compensation will also be paid to tide them over during construction.
As Cllr Donatus Anyanwu has written, one of the key priorities has been to ensure that the refurbishment should respect Brixton’s unique and individual character, of which the independent shops on Atalntic Road and Brixton Station Road are a key part. 75% of existing tenants will return to the Arches after refurbishment.
Committee members pressed Network Rail to clarify the status of sub-tenants, many of whom feel left in the dark by both Network Rail and the people from whom they sub-lease the space. Cllr Matt Parr demanded a commitment that sub-tenants would be given first refusal on the kiosks created within the new pedestrian walkway, with the same discounted rent offer as made to tenants.
Network Rail were also questioned about the phasing of the refurbishment works. Concerns had been raised about the danger of creating a ‘dead zone’ in the centre of Brixton. Labour councillor Mohammed Seedat wanted to know what steps Network Rail had taken to ensure work started promptly and was completed on schedule. As a result the committee voted to add a recommendation that Network Rail’s construction plan should include mitigation for delays in construction so traders can return as soon as possible.
Work is due to begin before the end of the month, with traders returning to the refurbished units next summer.