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!


Author: jackhopkins

Labour Councillor for Oval ward in London Borough of Lambeth, and Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth covering economic development, regeneration, planning and entrepreneurship. (formerly Community Safety) Interested in partnerships, training and development, social mobility and Arsenal.

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