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November 2015

Network Rail undertaking public consultation on plans for the Brixton Arches

Network Rail is planning a refurbishment of the arches around Brixton rail station to enhance the character and improve the fabric and structural integrity of these famous arches that are an important part of Brixton’s cultural heritage.

To achieve these refurbishments, we need to submit a planning application to Lambeth Council and we’d like to hear the views of local residents on the plans.

Over the past 10 months, we’ve discussed with all of our tenants how the refurbishment plans will affect them and we have offered them compensation, relocation support, temporary accommodation and the opportunity to return to the arches after the works at stepped rents. 

We want to retain the unique character of Brixton. So, in addition to those tenants wishing to return, we will be looking to attract a good mix of businesses which will maintain the area as a popular visitor destination and serve the local community's needs.

Network Rail has an excellent track record of working with small local businesses and we will continue this in Brixton. The plans feature a number of new small ‘kiosk’ type units that would be perfect for local start-up businesses.

Despite some suggestions, we will not be renting out any of the refurbished arches to national supermarkets and national food and drinks chains. We manage 4,000 businesses in our London estate; fewer than 20 are let to national chains.

During December, we plan to submit a detailed planning application to Lambeth Council on the proposed refurbishment. We want to hear the views of local residents on the proposed designs, layout and future retail uses of these plans before we submit a planning application.

We will be holding a drop-in consultation exhibition for the local community.

The exhibition will be held in the Conference Room at the Brixton Recreation Centre on Brixton Station Road on:

Friday 6th November from 3pm to 7pm

Saturday 7th November from 10am to 2pm

> Download a copy of the exhibition boards

> Download a copy of the feedback form (please note this consultation closes on 21 November 2015)

We have produced some Frequently Asked Questions about these plans.

FAQ1 Why is Network Rail proposing this refurbishment programme?

During 2014 local people fed back their comments on proposals for the long-term development and regeneration of the Brixton Central area, which includes the station, Brixton Station Road, Atlantic Road and the land between the viaducts. Whilst Lambeth Council and Network Rail continue to consult on these draft masterplan proposals, we are taking the opportunity to start the process by refurbishing most of the arches in the triangle area closest to Brixton Road.

FAQ2 What is planned?

Most of the arches in the triangle area beneath the viaducts (bounded by Atlantic Road, Brixton Station Road and Pope’s Road) will be refurbished over the next few years. This will include redevelopment of the arches and the freestanding structure between the viaducts, modernisation of power and other services and new frontages. This is intended to improve the condition, quality and commercial attractiveness of the arches for the occupiers, thereby bringing them in line with market conditions in Brixton for retail premises with an attractive street-front to help attract shoppers, increase visitor footfall and help provide a boost for the local economy.

FAQ3 What will happen to the existing businesses?

If the scheme proceeds, the existing businesses will need to vacate their premises during 2016. We are continuing to work with our tenants to give them an understanding of how these plans will affect them and the support we will provide through the process.

FAQ4 Will these businesses be able to relocate locally during the works?

We have appointed a commercial property agent to help affected businesses find suitable relocation premises if required. This service will be available to all affected business tenants free of charge. We are also exploring other relocation options which we are discussing with our tenants.

FAQ5 Will these businesses be able to return to the arches after the refurbishment?

Yes, if they wish to do so. We are working with each individual occupier to provide business support tailored to individual requirements and working with them should they wish to return once the improvements have been completed.

FAQ6 What about future rents?

The refurbished offer will be of a higher quality than the arches today and in line with normal high street practices, we are looking at zoning the arches according to high footfall and those prime locations closer to Brixton Road will command a premium rent whilst arches further along Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road will have a lower rent. The premium rents will help subsidise the more affordable units.

We recognise the social value that many of our tenants bring to Brixton and want to ensure that those businesses that want to return to a refurbished arch are able to do so, with stepped rents phased for five years before being set for two years at market rents (2015 levels) before a rent review in year 7. We believe that this will allow our tenants in the area to benefit from the additional footfall created by a refurbished scheme.

FAQ7 Will this mean the loss of local businesses to be replaced with multinational ‘coffee shop’ chains?

Part of the Brixton Central consultation confirmed a strong desire amongst the local community and other stakeholders to retain the unique character of Brixton. So we will be looking at a good mix of businesses which maintain the area as a popular visitor destination: unique occupiers for unique spaces. The mix could include some new, some existing tenants and some new local start-up businesses that will be offered affordable rents to help get their businesses going. We have an excellent track record of attracting small local businesses and every effort will be made to encourage this in Brixton. Indeed, the scheme would introduce a number of small 'kiosk' type units that would be perfect for small local start-up businesses. We manage 4,000 businesses in our London estate; fewer than 20 are let to national chains.

FAQ8 Why change the local area around Brixton Station; it’s perfectly fine as it is?

We want to enhance the arches, not change them. This doesn’t mean that local independent businesses will be replaced by a plethora of larger commercial retailers, but, the fact remains that some of the arches are not in good condition and are in real need of modernisation. We continue to consult and work to ensure that the redesign complements and reflects the nature and heritage of Brixton and believe that local independent businesses would benefit from improvements to the arches.

Download Brixton Arches newsletter October 2015 (340.9kb)

Download Brixton Exhibition Boards (5.7mb)

Download Feedback form (134.1kb)

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