Brixton Works: the citizen view for a better economy

There is another way. We cannot live outside of the economic realities but we can do things differently ourselves and demonstrate that creating value and reinvesting it back in the local economy is the only way to protect the long term health of Brixton. Brixton Works is a public enterprise trying to take back the economy. We need your views. 
Back in October 2015 I wrote about Brixton Works – something we are doing to prove that it is possible to have sustainable financial growth without losing the social benefits nor letting the increasing value created by a thriving local escape.

 

Brixton Works is about providing affordable workspace in Brixton by creating a social lettings agency for economic space in Brixton. We know that as things improve and a place becomes more attractive, the pressure to cash in on increasing values has been something which has affected a number of Brixton businesses. Brixton Works will treat it’s assets as more than something to be sweated for maximum profit. 
The steering group is made up of a number of businesses from Brixton, from the workspace world as well as the Brixton Business Improvement District and crucially the GLA who are funding the start up with £200k.

We have come up with some principles we think Brixton Works should abide by. We want to discuss whether they are right for Brixton. 

We also want to test some of the real life situations that might face Brixton Works when it goes live. How will it strike a balance between the commercial and social? In other words, the need to stay afloat versus the need to keep rents ‘affordable’. How will it handle the tension between the need for affordable space and the need to generate a surplus so Brixton Works can grow and take on more space? We need to work though these questions to be sure Brixton Works has a sound sense and will function whatever comes our way from the Tories in central government.

At this stage we do not know where the first Brixton Works workspace will be, or whether it will be only one space. Different options will have different levels of commercial vs. social benefit. The challenge for the Brixton Works steering group will be to work out the risk which can be accommodated and what will help Brixton Works to grow and deliver a better deal for Brixton, a better chance to cross subsidise start ups and social enterprises here in Brixton.

There are three workshops this week, all to be held at the Impact Hub in POP Brixton. Anyone who has experience or an interest in making the economy more social and sustainable, anyone who brings a commercial perspective but values the Brixton economy and ecosystem is more than welcome.

Workshop 01: Tuesday 16 February 1-2 PM

Workshop 02: Tuesday 16 February 6.30-7.30 PM

Workshop 03: Wednesday 17 February 8.30-9.30 AM

Impact Hub Brixton

POP Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road

London

SW9 8PQ

 

Meanwhile Opportunity in Waterloo: Time for something incredible

We have a good track record of supporting innovative meanwhile uses which go on to even greater success. Lower Marsh presents a fabulous opportunity for something quite incredible. A prime location, good support and some creativity to provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities could make your name. 

meanwhile space.jpg

There is a fantastic opportunity right now in Waterloo for a creative and entrepreneurial partner to work with Lambeth and the wider community in Waterloo to do something brilliant over the next 2 years.

As the Waterloo Library on Lower Marsh moves to new premises down the road we don’t want the building to go unused so are out to tender for a two year meanwhile space opportunity at 114-118 Lower Marsh.

Lower Marsh sits within one of our most successful Business Improvement Districts, WeAreWaterloo just south of Waterloo Station. Indeed this site has the potential as a gateway through into the vast empty spaces being developed underneath Waterloo station, some of which is also being used on a meanwhile basis by The Vaults, recently crowned Lambeth’s Business of the Year.

I am doing everything I can in my role as Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth to create opportunities for business growth and jobs – making spaces available, providing support for start ups or entrepreneurs or building partnerships which attract visitors, interest and investment to our neighbourhoods and the businesses already located there.

Unlike private developers who, according to a recent analysis are sitting on enough land to build 600,000 homes across the country, we are trying to make sure that we make full use of spaces, even if its only for a short while on a temporary basis.

We have a good track record in Lambeth of making meanwhile space work, sometimes perhaps becoming victims of our own success in some cases.

Many of you will have heard of POP Brixton which is a business park in the heart of Brixton which has created hundreds of jobs and supported local startups with a home, as well as giving back in a big way to the wider community. Indeed Impact Hub Brixton, itself originally a meanwhile use in the basement of the Town Hall has moved in there to form part of a vibrant business community bringing more life and footfall to what was arguably a neglected part of the town centre. Over 70% of the businesses in POP are by Lambeth people and 20% are affordable or free rents, subsidised by other. POP has had 400,000 visitors since opening its doors last summer.

Brixton Village itself when it was down on its uppers was about the Council supporting new businesses to locate into empty shops and breathe live into what had become a ghost town. The principle about investing in our borough to generate opportunities for local people is still one we are committed to.

Loughborough Junction has recently received £1.6m of money from the GLA to provide employment and jobs at Loughborough Farm and some of the empty Network Rail arches off the back of a meanwhile use we established a couple of years ago. The commitment is for 20 years so meanwhile can often turn into something more permanent if it can demonstrate the value it’s bringing.

For further information and instructions on how to respond, please see the brief attached.  I am really excited to see the proposals that come forward.

Please note we will be holding site visits on Wednesday 17th February and Wednesday 24th February. If you would like to visit the building on one of these dates, please email my colleague Nathan Vasey NVasey@lambeth.gov.uk to arrange a convenient time.

Please feel free to forward the brief on to your networks if you feel the opportunity may suit another organisation you know.

114-118 Meanwhile Use ITT (final)