Network Rail’s 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 have submitted a planning application to Lambeth Council for the redevelopment works that is due to be considered by the Council in early August.
Since early 2015, when we first announced our plans for the Brixton Arches, we have engaged with our existing trader tenants about the proposals and how they will be affected.
The traders have been offered compensation above and beyond the minimum we are required to offer, and those who have decided to return to a refurbished unit after the completion of the works, have been offered discounted stepped rents over seven years – so they will not be paying the current 2015 rent levels until 2024. We are pleased that, to date, three quarters of our tenants, who were given first option on the refurbished units, have decided to return.
Network Rail has an excellent track record of working with small local businesses and we will continue this in Brixton. The plans feature 13 new small ‘kiosk’ type units that would be perfect for local start-up businesses.
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.
Despite some suggestions, we will not be renting out any of the refurbished arches to national supermarkets , or national food and drinks chains. Of the 4,000 businesses in our London estate, fewer than 20 are let to national chains and nationwide, 98% of our arches are rented out to small local businesses.
FAQ1: Why is the redevelopment/refurbishment necessary?
Network Rail has planned a redevelopment/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.
We want to enhance the arches, not change them. Some of the arches are not in good condition and are in real need of modernisation. We are confident that the redevelopment and refurbishments will complement and reflect the nature and heritage of Brixton and we are confident that local independent businesses will benefit from improvements to the arches.
FAQ2: What is planned?
The arches in the triangle area beneath the viaducts (bounded by Atlantic Road, Brixton Station Road and Pope’s Road) will be refurbished. This will include the stripping out and detailed inspections of the structural integrity of the arches, the re-cladding of units, the installation of power and other services and the creation of new retail frontages along Brixton Station Road and Atlantic Road. This will improve the condition, quality and commercial attractiveness of the arches for tenants, thereby bringing them in line with other retail premises in Brixton and creating an attractive street-frontage to attract shoppers, increase visitor footfall and help provide a boost for the local economy.
FAQ3: What will happen to the existing businesses?
The existing businesses will need to vacate their premises by 19th August 2016. Tenants have been offered compensation and the opportunity to return to a refurbished arch after the works. For those who have chosen to return there will be discounted stepped rents over seven years. To date, three quarters of our tenants have decided to return.
FAQ4: Will these businesses be able to relocate locally during the works?
Yes. We have been helping those tenants who expressed an interest to temporarily relocate their businesses during the works.
FAQ5: Will these businesses be able to return to the arches after the refurbishment?
Yes and our tenants were given first option on the new units. To date, three quarters of our tenants have decided to return.
FAQ6: What about future rents?
The refurbished units will be of a higher quality than the arches today but we are offering our existing tenants who have chosen to return, discounted stepped rents over seven years – so our existing tenants will not be paying the current 2015 rent levels until 2024. See graphic above.
FAQ7: Will this mean the loss of local businesses to be replaced with multinational ‘coffee shop’ chains?
Part of the Brixton Central consultation undertaken by Lambeth during 2014-15 confirmed a strong desire amongst the local community and other stakeholders to retain the unique character of Brixton. So, in addition to our returning tenants, we will be looking at a good mix of independent businesses to take the remaining units, to maintain the area as a popular visitor destination: unique occupiers for unique spaces. We’ve also included 13 new kiosks that are perfect for small local start-up businesses – something that Network Rail actively encourages.
Despite some suggestions, we will not be renting out any of the refurbished arches to national supermarkets and national food and drinks chains. Of the 4,000 businesses in our London estate, fewer than 20 are let to national chains and nationwide, 98% of our arches are rented out to small local businesses.
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 and the majority of our existing tenants have decided to return to the arches after the works. However, the fact remains that some of the arches are not in good condition and are in real need of modernisation.
Our refurbished arches will breathe new life into what was starting to look tired and run-down. Many of the familiar shops, cafes and bars will be returning and there will be new fresh enterprises that’ll preserve and build on the much-loved character and heritage of Brixton.
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