Bridging the gap between bedroom and high street: A space for start-ups to POP up in Brixton

With land from the Council, entrepreneurialism from POP Brixton and the support and oversight from community partners we are creating a community business park for the 21st century. It will add energy, create footfall and provide opportunities to locals needing the space and supportive business environment to thrive.


Something great is happening on Pope’s Road, a project which will hopefully result in over 250 jobs being created on a tiny plot of land which has been a car park, a temporary ice rink (and then back to a car park)

The Council who owns the land has been working with Carl Turner (an award winning small architect) and POP Brixton to create a temporary business campus with a community ethos. The land has been given to the project for free for three years and Carl Tuner has brought the money and adopted a lot of the risk

The steering group has involved the Brixton Business Improvement Districtthe Brixton Pound,the Brixton Market Traders Federation and local Councillors, designed to steer through a project with social value at its heart to ensure that as Brixton changes and grows, local people are not left behind or excluded.


The space was three times oversubscribed so POP Brixton interviewed all applicants and scored them against the social value criteria agreed by the steering group. Some businesses won’t succeed and some might change their mind about coming; we are hoping that some will be so successful that they will grow and move out into permanent space, making room for new comers from the local area.  If you are a business which wants to go on the waiting list please contact POP here

We are expecting a diverse range of businesses at different stages of maturity to be coming in and setting up shop. What the Council along with its community and business partners have been able to influence through the contract with POP Brixton has been a commitment to local businesses getting access and we expect over 80% of the final occupants to be from Lambeth; there will be 20% affordable space for start-ups or charities and every occupant has to contribute to community ethos of the business campus with school visits, mentoring, skills sharing and business support. We are also committed to having space dedicated to showcasing business ideas from young people.


Whilst the vast majority (we hope all) of the businesses will be paying the London Living Wage, Carl Tuner and the project team certainly have, including to the dozen apprentices from Lambeth College who’ve built the site. The hugely successful Impact hub based in Brixton Town Hall will be relocating as the New Town Hall development takes place, and there will be coworking space and a greenhouse for meetings and peaceful working space.

It will be accessible and open for all – bringing young people and locals in, as well as tourists, visitors and people coming for business. It points to how the Council is trying to use its assets to create opportunities that are for everyone, encourage footfall to support existing shops and market traders in Brixton and add to the eclectic character of Brixton.


This is something of a new venture for the Council – some businesses won’t succeed despite the support they will get; some might not find their business opportunity grows as they thought but we are exploring innovative ways to create space for start-ups, to test different models of affordable rent and to fill the gap between an idea in a bedroom and a permanent commercial unit on the high street.


For me this is a fantastic example where the public, private and community sectors have worked together to create something in the heart of Brixton which will be to the benefit of everyone. Please follow POP on twitter @popbrixton or sign up to the newsletter and most importantly, come and visit in May when the site will be going live!

Somerleyton Road: Where local people are shaping their own futures

There is a feeling from many people who I speak to that the forces influencing where they live, the businesses that can exist and the houses they can afford to live in, are out of their hands. But on Somerleyton Road the Council is ensuring that the changes are driven by and for our existing communities, so they get to share in a changing Brixton, and that the community can genuinely feed in to whatever further changes happen in their neighbourhood.

 

At Somerleyton Road the Council is determined to make sure that it is local people shaping the regeneration of one of the poorest parts of the country. The aspiration is for a truly mixed tenure housing (50% Affordable Housing (including social and intermediate) alongside Market Housing, a children’s centre, nursery, cookery school, flexible community space, outdoor gym, creative workspace and the OvalHouse Theatre.


  

 

Residents who live there will automatically become members the housing cooperative which will take control the development.  Rents from the Market Housing will help to subsidise the Social Rented housings; the rents for the commercial buildings will help to subsidise the community buildings; from day one the Council has been working in partnership with Brixton Green and Oval House to develop a sustainable system with the community at its heart. 

 

In January we held a workshop for local people to attend and make their feelings clear aroundsustainability and being an environmentally friendly development. We also hosted a housing workshop in February to understand the needs and preferences of local people.  In addition, last month we hosted meetings between local parents, nearby schools and the future occupants of the new children’s centre and nursery to design and develop what it will look like and how it will run. 

 

This month we are working with the older residents from Fitch Court who will be moving into a purpose built extra care facility. Those residents will be collaborating directly with the architects to help design the flats they’ll be living in, the landscaping and the grounds. That is a real commitment we are delivering on. We will also be offering the opportunity for local people to get the right skills so they can be part of the teams building the schemes as they come forward, helped by the Green Man Skills Zone and some residents from neighbouring Moorlands and Loughborough estates who graduated from the Lambeth Living and Mears training facility on Wandsworth Road.

 

Tonight anyone from the local community can come along and meet the architects who will be designing all the buildings in the development as well as the public spaces. Everything which is being developed on Somerleyton came from the community and at every stage we have been clear that the communities’ ownership of the elements is vital to making sure it is a success. 

 

At a time of uncertainty for many, the Council and its community partners are delivering on our commitments to put local people in the driving seat for their futures in this part of the ambitious regeneration of Brixton. We are walking the walk, not just talking it – and I hope that more people will want to get involved, grabbing the opportunities which are out there.

 

If you want to come along this evening then head to Six Brixton (No 6 Somerleyton) from 5.30pm on 14th April and meet all five architects helping to design this road for all ages. Food and refreshments will be provided.