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Front page of today's SLP: Brixton Market rent hikes are "Kick in the Teeth"


New Member
Check out today's SLP, which reveals the truth about the rumoured rent increases.

Across the market, London and Associated Properties, who own the market are hoiking the rents, making huge back dated demands, and doubling traders service charges.

FBM say to LAP's Chair Michael Heller and its CEO (his son) John Heller, wasn't the £2 million profit you made last year on Market Row alone enough?

And we say to the Space Makers, isn't it time you spoke up or got out?

Read the SLP front page here

Read the full story

matt m

Active Member
While the rent hikes are deplorable I think the Spacemakers-bashing is pointless and knee-jerk.

Sure, Spacemakers can "speak up".

But I don't see why on earth it's a "speak up or get out" either/or.

Fact is those rent hikes would have happened with or without Spacemakers.

They are a consequence of the arcade receiving listed status and therefore becoming difficult for LAP to sell.

If it hadn't received listed status, it would probably have been sold by now, and would be well have been on its way to being luxury flats. (With or without Spacemakers.)

Spacemakers might have helped it win listed status. Then again, it might not. Whichever way it had gone, the traders would have been fucked. Spacemakers haven't made them any more or less so.

Let's say Spacemakers did respond to a demand to "speak up or get out" by getting out. That wouldn't say much for Spacemakers' backbone of course. But it also wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference.

I don't buy into the idea that Spacemakers making the place more chi-chi has enabled LAP to hoik the rents up. The most chi-chi places there are if anything the least business-hardened, and ironically the least able to afford any rent hikes. Your cover star there, Rosie's Deli, is pretty chi-chi, and that was there way before Spacemakers.

Yes, it'd be nice if Spacemakers organized some specific anti-rent-hikes nights. But I don't think for a moment it'd make LAP even entertain the notion of changing their policy, not for a second.

I'd like to know more about the legality of this. Backdated rent demands sounds dodgy. 50% rent increases sound like the sort of thing calling for a rent strike.


I would have thought that whatever the Spacemakers say or do is going to have little consequence here. The real villains would appear to be the Heller family who seem more interested in squeezing every last penny out of tenants rather than looking for a sustainable future for the market.

Upping the rent is likely to backfire spectacularly anyway: although I'm really enjoying the revitalised market, it's not established enough to encourage big spending tenants in, so if the current ones are priced out, it'll just go back to being a struggling, half-empty market with previous little footfall.


Mongolian eyed
I'm sorry Matt, I totally disagree. The MO of pretty much every market-owning firm in increasing rents has been exactly that in recent years - invite an organisation like Spacemakers in, often at loss leader prices, to give a new shot of publicity and life to a market. And then as soon as some minor momentum is achieved, with little practical change to the infrastructure, rents are summarily whacked up, amongst talks of a new younger clientele and better potential.

I'd like to sound less cynical, but this is exactly what I predicted when Spacemakers moved in. And I don't agree that Spacemakers and the traditional traders have their objectives lined up either - we've already seen folks on here suggesting later opening hours, Sunday opening and other suggestions (monday closing etc) that perhaps better suit recent catering incomers than the established fruit and veg bulk trade.

Do I think the owners would have tried to force the rents up anyway? Probably, but Spacemakers and the associated press have certainly given good cover and more justification for the rises

matt m

Active Member
one thing you can't disagree with, however, is that if the market hadn't gained listed status, it would have been sold off anyway.

sure, restaurants can open late - that had occurred to me, too. If LAP really wanted to play hardball, they could allow units to open late every night of the week,and open on Sundays too.

(Though that in itself would be problematic for those restaurants - they'd effectively be forced to do so, regardless of whether they wanted to or not, regardless of whether they could afford the extra staff etc etc)

Let's imagine Spacemakers have never existed. Brixton Village gets listed status; LAP can't sell it; LAP decide to wring as much money out of it as possible. They'd be doing that irrespective of jugglers, DJs or acoustic guitarists.

Again, the face on the cover of the SLP is Rosie from Rosie's Deli. A nice middle-class girl running a pleasant enough, slightly Claphamish Deli, for a good while before Smakers came along.

She's doesn't look like she's rubbing her hands with glee at the prospect of having to open her business 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to meet these rent hikes.

You say "Do I think the owners would have tried to force the rents up anyway? Probably, but Spacemakers and the associated press have certainly given good cover and more justification for the rises".
For me, "cover" and "justification" don't really mean an awful lot, as when you're a landlord you don't actually need either; you don't need to pretend, just demand.


AKA some / certain posters
Upping the rent is likely to backfire spectacularly anyway: although I'm really enjoying the revitalised market, it's not established enough to encourage big spending tenants in, so if the current ones are priced out, it'll just go back to being a struggling, half-empty market with previous little footfall.
Agree with this ^^^. Way too fragile to start relying yet on the new footfall.


New Member
matt m:

Please, whatever else, the Spacemakers had absolutely zero to do with getting the market listed. It's a real dis-service to a campaign hard-faught by a bunch of community groups, politicians, and Paul Bakalite in particular, to hand that to them.

There's going to be a website v soon that tells the story of how the listing happened. I recommend reading the story, the letters on the site, etc...

(And to be honest, if Spacemakers had, d'you really think LAP would be paying them?)

Aside from this I think you're a bit confused about things:

- "I don't buy into the idea that Spacemakers making the place more chi-chi has enabled LAP to hoik the rents up." Sorry, but this is really naive. Read LAP's Annual Report. Tarannau is spot on on this.

- "The most chi-chi places there are if anything the least business-hardened, and ironically the least able to afford any rent hikes." This is just plain wrong but I figure you haven't spent much time talking to the traders. You seem to think that just because Rosie is featured by the SLP on the cover this means she's the most affected. Did you not catch how much Stafford is being charged for them to collect his rubbish? People are dropping staff, clinging on by their fingers. Some have already gone out of business (such as Jason's Hip Hop shop that was forced out by a 50% increase - not sure Hip Hop is what you'd call chi chi...) Nour Cash and Carry - £15k back dated rent. Tearing his hair out. Market Express - already paying over the odds being charged £30k more? Mick Dombey the Butcher etc etc. They write letters, they're ignored. When the SLP reporter went round, people didn't want to give their names - because they're scared. Understandably. Rosie and Stafford are some of the ones prepared to stick their necks out for the benefit of everyone. They need everyone's support and admiration.

- "50% rent increases sound like the sort of thing calling for a rent strike." Agreed, but then LAP might have the right to kick non-rent paying tenants out no? Many people get padlocked by LAP as it is. People are scared of them, get it? Backdated rent demands are unfortunately legal. They're just very bad practice, break a commitment LAP made to tenants when they were going to knock the place down, seem like a downright vindictive attempt to recoup costs after a failed development attempt. They've even been putting interest on them.

- "one thing you can't disagree with, however, is that if the market hadn't gained listed status, it would have been sold off anyway." Well no, if it hadn't been listed, LAP would've sat out the recession and then gone ahead with knocking it down. Google the antiques trade press about how LAP operated in Islington with the old antiques market on Camden Passage and Antiquarius on the Kings Road (which they bought as part of the same portfolio as Brixton).

- "If LAP really wanted to play hardball, they could allow units to open late every night of the week, and open on Sundays too." Why would this be hardball? Traders aren't forced to open late on Thursdays - most pull the shutters down and go home. Many traders would love the entire market - street market and covered arcades - to be open on Sundays.

- "LAP decide to wring as much money out of it as possible. They'd be doing that irrespective of jugglers, DJs or acoustic guitarists." They'd be more likely to fail and look for other options. This could mean out of the frying pan and into the fire with some new developer, but on the other hand, there are plenty of people with a sense of social justice around with interesting ideas for how to raise capital and buy the place. FBM for one has been working with architects and others to try to work out ways of making an income to run the place, while taking the pressure off the rents.

- "For me, "cover" and "justification" don't really mean an awful lot, as when you're a landlord you don't actually need either; you don't need to pretend, just demand." - they do mean a lot, they mean the council gives lots of support, they mean you get lets of nice press from the new york times etc, and that new upmarket businesses start to be attracted to come in - who can even afford the ridiculous rent hikes.

Don't get me wrong about Spacemakers, FBM has had a lot to do with the Spacemakers, we have a very open, critical dialogue with them, Dougald seems pretty open with us, and there are some different personalities in the mix there. But I'm under the impression that the Spacemakers' whole ethos is not just to act as a Estate Agents (the kind with jugglers, DJs etc in tow), it's to have a sense of what's right. I'm just saying Dougald - it's now or never - London has seen this trajectory many times before - if you're really saving the planet, not just providing a kind of "creative class" form of PR it's time to speak...

Also don't get me wrong about the people that came in through that scheme - we have given support to many of them with trying to improve the disastrous tenancy agreements LAP have been getting people to sign etc, just as we have with all the tenants. Many of those new traders themselves worry about their own role within a gentrification of the market. But let's be clear, from LAP's point of view, that is what they are.

To answer your last question, when you say "the other covered market", do you mean Reliance Arcade? Those units currently seem fine. The landlord has been the same since the 70s - South Coast Soft Furnishings or something, managed by a management firm. Rents seem stable and no one has any complaints there as far as I know.


Well-Known Member
Make no mistake, none of this would have been possible if it wasnt for the Spacemakers project. They gave LAP the PR (New York Times, Evening Standard, BBC!) to scare existing tennents that they were serious about changing the market, helped engineer a scism between new and old traders and provide an alternative model for the market.

Spacemakers have gone along with this because their focus is 100% on the 'success' of Spacemakers per say and of weiving it into the wider narritive of their Dark Mountain Project rather than the long term impacts on Brixton Market. Even if they destroy more businesses than they make so long as they have a couple of fluffy examples about post-economics to cite in literature and at conferences they will be happy.

Since last September I have urged some of the spacemakers people to engage more with local orgs and residents. Everytime it was met with a "thanks for the critisim it's really useful" before carrying on as before.

I hope they do as fbm have asked and do the right thing by tyhe market. The project still has a have a fair bit of PR potentual that spacemakers could use to highlight the rent increases 'regeneration project threatens to pull out of brixotn market', and a network of volunteers that they could direct at the campaign. I wouldent hold your breath though :(


AKA some / certain posters
This situation was anticipated IIRC. What is FBM's advice?
Is there a strategy in place to deal with it (whether FBM led or not)?
What does FBM recommend traders do?
What do you recommend customers do in order to be supportive?
What would FBM ideally like to see the council do?


AKA some / certain posters
Also, for some perspective, roughly how much are the new rents?
How do these compare with commercial rates elsewhere in Brixton?

matt m

Active Member
well don't get me wrong either - the thing that has always struck me most about Spacemakers is that it's a shame that people with the time, ideas, initiative and enthusiasm that they have aren't doing anything a bit more worthwhile than facilitating local businesses (or property-owning companies, depending on your point of view).

I just don't see the point of bashing them. If you re-read my posts, you'll see that they were not defending, in any way, the rent hikes. They were all about simply pointing out my scepticism as to what difference it would make to LAP and the current situation had Spacemakers never existed at all. You'd have the market you had previously, and I don't really see how they could have increased the turnover of that without rent increases.

Re. rent strikes, yes, I imagine the only way it would be feasible would be for every market stallholder to unamimously pledge to withhold rent. I can't see it working if it was only a minority, or even just half. But it's something fairly pointless debating unless you know the legal intricacies of it all.

Shame some kind of partnership between all the stallholders and Lambeth Council couldn't buy the place off LAP. Or if Lambeth Council couldn't broker some kind of highly favourable loan to do so from a bank eager for some "investing in the community" PR. Stranger things have (once in a blue moon) happened.

(FWIW, when I talked about the possibility of LAP allowing the market to open 24/7 as a self-serving tactic, I was suggesting that they could then point to potential increased revenues as a devious way of justifying rent increases: ie "you can't afford our new rents? well now you can – by working round the clock 7 days a week")

matt m

Active Member
...but actually what I find most weird about the whole thing is that these rent hikes come at a time when there are still plenty of empty units.

I mean LAP must have done their maths, but I'd be interested to know which of the current tenants anyone believes to be the "new upmarket businesses ... who can even afford the ridiculous rent hikes"

Etta's Kitchen? The Moroccan cafe? The vintage posh-frock shop? the old-school sweet-shop?

I'd be genuinely surprised if any of those business could remain profitable on twice the rent.

The most successful businesses appear to be restaurants and cafes. But they can't fill every single unit with a restaurant or cafe. Even in a place as ravenous as Brixton, there's surely a satiation point.


Brixton resident.
Wrong way round

Spacemakers are doing their bit at the back of the market, but the most visible entrance to the visiting public is next to the old Woolworths, and there we have a pop-corn seller and someone selling cheap phone covers.

The market needs to be sorted out and it will be painful (you cannot make a cake without cracking eggs) but aren't they doing it all the wrong way round and back to front.

Killing off the back of the market with increased rents while keeping the frontage the same just seems stupid.


New Member
How can customers be supportive? (Thanks v much for this question btw)

How about...

1. Volunteer for the traders. The trader's association - The Association of Brixton Arcades and Shops - is the best way the traders have to present a united front to the landlords. They are a very new organisation and could do with a load of volunteer support. The street traders find the support they get from some members of the community invaluable. If anyone has some spare time during the day to do some chores and things, there's lots of very worthwhile stuff to do, some may only take half an hour every now and then, and there are some immediate small jobs that would make a huge impact...

2. The Heller family who run LAP need to see the consequences of their company's actions. Publicly, they seem not to be people without any form of social conscience. The chairman Michael Heller has a charitable foundation with his wife - The Michael and Morven Heller Charitable Foundation. They are patrons of the Tate, of the London Jewish Cultural Centre etc. Michael Heller sits on the board of the think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. This is a right wing think tank, but what's surprising is they have a report called "Wasted: The betrayal of white working class and black Caribbean boys", about how the education and employment systems fail, and the first case study is about a 15 year old boy in ... Brixton! It seems odd that he should be part of an organisation that (whatever its politics) is concerned about the lives of people in Brixton, while his own company seems to be just going all out for profit in the most brazen manner, riding rough shod over that community. Nicola (their daughter) who has been a key contact for the spacemaker project, has at times been very open and was at one point an ally in bringing a community project into the spacemaker project (see below).

If anyone knows them, they need to have their consciences pricked...

3. We need to make it clear to Lambeth Council that Brixton market needs to continue to serve low income customers and be a community centre for everyone. It's fine to support new business and so on, and yes the place needs a face-lift and so on, but strategies that force out the low-income shops aren't welcome. I have had some seriously disturbing off-the-cuff conversations with some council officers of late that tend to imply they want the place to just become a new Borough Market (ie too expensive for most locals to use), and there is a deep concern that councillors too have been way too ready to believe the hype - witness the minute from the cabinet meeting where they approved Pope's rd as location for the ice rink which blandly states that "Brixton Market is Successful". The ice rink is just as much a kick in the teeth as the rents. Traders from across the market - street traders, Franco Manca, Nour, everyone, are furious about this. Watch out for the season of protest the council is about to witness on this one, and please sign the petition, and get ready to send in letters opposing Tesco's planning application for pope's rd, when it arrives later this month

4. We need to create a positive vision for the market, more socially beneficial, while profitable, than that available via LAP, via the council to date, or to be honest via the spacemakers. I don't want to shove more criticism at the spacemakers. Regardless of their own self-promotional aspects, they have done what they know how to do well, there is much more life in the market, and it is clearly the LAP context that's the real problem. One thing I find disappointing is the attitude of parts of the council in this, and the way that when they first introduced the spacemakers to LAP, there wasn't more of an effort to gear the arcade to be more of a business incubator for people without the business acumen and capital behind them that the initial spacemaker / council selection process required. One of the things that amazed me was how the application by London Youth Support Trust were initially rejected, and it only came in after I discussed with Nicola from LAP the disappointment I felt in this lack of ambition. It's a long story and LYST did get a place after Nicola and I met with them and Chris Norris from the council, but I think we could have had something more interesting and more beneficial to Brixton, than we have today if a larger supported strategy had been pursued.

I think this report from the USA offers many interesting ideas: Public Markets as a Vehicle for Social Integration and Upward Mobility

Beyond this, more ambitiously, FBM has been doing things like working with architects to try to find ways of using different parts of the building to generate revenues and new uses while taking pressure off the rents, and even more ambitiously, there are a range of Brixton Stakeholders (especially ABC Brixton and Brixton Green) who are full of ideas of new ways to raise capital to buy the place etc... this is all a bit much for FBM to take on (and I can't imagine the Hellers wanting to sell to anythign we were part of for a second), but some people seem very confident this is worth pursuing.

FBM held a workshop in the summer to start to try to develop a vision we could promote for the market. This was great and we now want to push onto talking to people like the New Economic Foundation who have run some interesting projects round the country, but we're all a bit stretched...

If anyone has any bright ideas, rich (but nice) friends, etc etc, please get in touch...

5. Join FBM (it's £10 waged, £5 concession), and come and help us be more effective... We desperately need some communications people, web help etc... Next management committee meting is tomorrow (21st) at 7pm in the Moorlands Community Centre - all members are welcome, or you can join there and then.

6. If nothing else, you could try to make sure you shop for fish, fruit and veg etc from the market...


I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint
FBM - thanks for this. Could you answer Rushy's question about rents?

Also, for some perspective, roughly how much are the new rents?
How do these compare with commercial rates elsewhere in Brixton?
Your point of view is based on a premise that Brixton market has a social function which goes beyond its commercial function. Whilst many on U75 might have some sympathy with that, it's likely that LAP has a rather more hard-nosed commercial perspective. Knowing the commercial position is pretty key (for me) in forming a view on this - if it turned out for example that LAP had been under-charging for years and was only now playing catch-up, then I would find it harder to oppose the rent hikes than if LAP was being objectively unreasonable.


New Member
It's pretty clear that the rents are over the odds already - and bear in mind these new increases are at a time of recession.
I don't have loads of info on the rest of Brixton, but I have a couple of examples:

I don't want to go into names of business, but believe that after their review last year, a pretty small shop at the back of Granville Arcade, the very back of the Brixton shopping area, is on £1200 / month.
The shops at the front end of Atlantic Road, eg A&C continental deli are on about £1500 / month for shops maybe 2.5 - 3 times the size at the very front of the market , right next to the tube.

If you look at the Valuation Office website, I think you can see that shops on Atlantic have rateable values (i.e. based on the rent they're charging) of £230 / month, and Granville of £300 / month, Market Row £315.

I should also stress that we are not only talking about rent increases here. The SLP article talks of £28k service charges for doing nothing except collecting rubbish, and of back dated rent demands of between £15 - £30k.

I should also add to this that there is currently a suspicion - and I stress that is only what it is at this point, until the council have finished investigating - that LAP have been withholding Small Business Rates Relief from tenants.

I do also know that generally as a comparison with other areas of London, Brixton is said to be expensive in general. I don't know if that's true. Some people say that it verges on feeling like a kind of protection racket the way landlords are able to force rents up. A local surveyor I spoke to to see if they could do a rent review saw these levels of rent as being part of the immigrant history of the area - he said people have just been grateful to find somewhere to start a business - haven't known about how to or been able to negotiate tenancy agreements, haven't been able to afford solicitors to advise, haven't had English as a first language - so they've got what they've been given, and that is then used as a precedent with the next trader who comes in. You should see the licenses most of the traders are on! They contain clauses that allow LAP to shut down shops at 2 weeks notice for no reason! Hence the liberal use of padlocks if anyone is late with the rent.


Street Party: July 2
For comparison ...

on Brixton Hill, the new Ty Crepe place is let at £1,600pm, Naz barbershop next door at £1,200pm and the Allmarks furniture shop is available at £2,000pm (which is probably why it is empty).


John Heller, LAP chief executive, said the rises were justified. He said: “If an area has become more popular rents can go up or rents go up because of general inflation.”
What a charmer.

uk benzo

أنا ليس أمريكي
John Heller sounds like a modern day Peter Rachman.

I hope all the negative press will keep his money-making ambitions (at the cost of the market) under control.


Street Party: July 2
Clearly the Hellers need some more rent money.

After all, a John Heller has to slum it in a £3.3million home in NW3 while a Michael Heller lives in a nearby street where houses start at only £2million.

Anyone doubt they are the Hellers behind the market?


New Member
Dougald from the spacemakers has posted a response to fbm's question to them on the spacemakers website. He has emailed me to say that he's not contributing to U75 discussion as he doesn't have a history of posting here.

Dougald's response:

Valuing the Market
September 20, 2010 – 10:14 am
When Lambeth Council introduced us to the owners of Brixton Village/​Granville Arcade a year ago, there were twenty shops sitting empty in the market. Its current manager tells me that in the ten years he has worked there, under two different owners, he doesn’t remember a time when there were fewer than fifteen units empty.

We persuaded the owners to fund us to run a project which would take shops that would otherwise be sitting empty and let people use them rent-​free for up to three months. This wasn’t an idea which came out of nowhere — there had been art events in the market before, there were the ASC studios upstairs and projects like Cabinet of Curiosity had led the way for artists using unlet shops at Granville. There was also a national movement to make better use of empty shops, something we’d been involved in since early 2009, alongside the Empty Shops Network and Meanwhile Space.

This project has succeeded in making the shops at the back of the market viable again by bringing new visitors in. (I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who start by telling me, “I’ve been walking past this place for years and I never knew it was here!” or “I remember coming here with my mum when I was a kid — it’s great to see it so full of life.”)

We completely agree with Cllr Rachel Heywood, as quoted in last Friday’s South London Press, that “the mix of traders both new and established” is essential to the long-​term future of the market. The achievements of this project have come from the hundreds of people who’ve got actively involved, running pop-​up shops, building their businesses, organising events, spreading the word. Most of these people live in walking distance of the market — and for its continued success, it will need to continue serving the whole range of people who live in this part of London.

Different people are best-​placed to see different parts of this situation. What Space Makers can see is how easily Brixton Village could end up back in the position it was in a year ago. A sharp increase in rents could quickly undo the hard work which went into filling the empty areas of the market, hurting both the market’s businesses and its customers.

The South London Press and the Evening Standard have drawn attention to the situation of traders in Brixton Village and the neighbouring arcade, Market Row, who have been presented with increases in rent and service charges. Increased rents are much like government cuts — sometimes they have exactly the opposite of the intended effect.​



New Member
Btw, as far as my memory serves, the empty shops were empty largely because of a big rent hike that occurred under the previous owners, Atlantic Properties - when they renamed it Brixton Village in what 2002? Earlier? That's what forced out one or two reggae shops, the old pet shop... (apparently after many years of it being run by the parents, they handed it on to their kids and they were the ones who decided to hoik I think), and then subsequently by LAP sewing insecurity as soon as they bought Atlantic Properties - telling people they were going to knock it down (I have spoken to one previous trader who fled for Peckham, selling his lease for half the value its was worth - he wasn't alone) and allegedly shifting lease holders onto the completely substandard licenses - which would be against the terms of the leases, but tenants are often not in a position to negotiate.

But the notion that the market was failing through natural causes or market forces or whatever, or that the units were empty because of recession, is wrong.


New Member
Brixton Village - from the horses mouth

It brought to mind my experience with Brixton Village last year, when I was asked to leave prematurely. I posted the comment below on the spacemaker site at the time, but received no satisfactory conclusion and had to leave. I suggest that people email cnorris@lambeth.gov.uk who oversaw business grants paid to LAP who oversee Brixton market, or post their coments on the Spacemaker site:

I had taken over an empty space in Brixton market, using it as a studio to create paper costumes, origami etc. I had thought that the plans to creatively use the other derelict retail spaces in Brixton Village to be a positive move. Lambeth council were particularly interested in how I used my space and apparently visitors to the spacemaker evening event were shown my 'Cabinet of Curiosity'.

As of yesterday I was given notice to leave my space starting in the New Year, despite having previously been verbally told that my unit was not to be included in this scheme.

Although dissapointed, this conclusion to my time in the market is not entirely a surprise. Being a Brixton resident who lives next door to Brixton market I am aware that LAP has attracted negative publicity in the past. I also realise that at the end of the day 'business is business' but question the way this business is being carried out.

I had a phone call from LAP two weeks prior to being given notice. This was not a particularly friendly phone call. Having slammed the phone down on my partner who had asked what the nature of the call was, my conversation culminated with the same employee of the company slamming the phone down on me. During the call questions were raised about what the nature of my business was, was I official, had I paid my rent (I had).

All this raises questions about whether LAP have a long term plan to develop the site as had been their intention earlier in the year. After all artistic interventionswill make the market appear desireable and up-market.

Despite promises for an alternative space from Lambeth Council/Spacemakers at the time, this promise was never honoured, so the news below does not come as any surprise.

As a local, who lives next-door to Brixton market and regularly shops there, it will be sad if the current traders are driven out and replaced by 'trendy' chain stores, as has happened with Greenwich market.


Well-Known Member
I just posted this on the spacemakers site, not sure if it will get through moderation or not so am posting up here too:

The premise of "there were empty shops and we filled them - this is a good thing" argument is too simplistic, and you really need to be asking a wider range of questions of your project.

For example: "will you, in total and over a sustained period, help more business than you hinder in the wider Brixton Market?" That seems like a much better measure of success to me rather than focusing on a series of units in isolation.

You are correct to say that there have been empty units there for some years, but apparently had as much todo with owners deliberately running the market down in anticipation of redevelopment and general uncertainty about the future of the market.

This is the first time I can remember that there have even been for-rent-signs up, so it might be that these units would have just filled up more naturally without Spacemekers once the listing of the market had occurred and LAP had to start looking for tenants again.

On Rachel's comment - yes we need a mix of old and new shops, but Spacemakers/LAP are also endangering some of the newer shops outside of Granville (see Rosies and Healthy Eaters for example, people who have put years of work into Brixton Market at risk of loosing their businesses though a chain of events that Spacemakers helped trigger).

Some other questions that I would urge you to consider with some urgency:

What kind of market are you creating and who should/should have had a say in that? To date the choices have been the reserve of Spacemakers/LAP with little input from traders, residents and the wider community. I live right in the heart of the market and feel alienated by the whole thing. Others feel the same.

Have you strengthened or weakened the market as a whole? After the campaign to list the markets last year the traders were in a very strong bargaining position with both LAP and the council, I'm not sure that is the case any longer.

What is the cultural impact of what you have done? The markets were listed because of their importance to British Afro-Caribbean culture. I think it's probably fair to characterise a lot of the Spacemakers projects as "white-middle-class-foodie weekends & evening use" - that is great as part of a wider mix, but if it started to dominate at the expense of everything else (as it appears LAP want it to) then we loose the thing that was deemed most important in the first place. Would you really be happy to think you had helped trigger that?

Why has Spacemekers/LAP acted as though Brixton Market was a land barren of existing organisations and campaigns? That Friends of Brixton market feel they have to appeal to you publicly to speak out against the rent-rises should really be ringing some alarm bells for you. Where is the input from ABC Brixton, FBM, Market Traders Federation etc in all of this?

You failed to engage initially, which is understandable - sometimes you just need to get on with things to get stuff done - but that you and continue to work in isolation this late on in the project is odd. If you do this kind of thing again you really need to reach out further than twitter to stay credible.

Your priorities are looking increasingly aligned more with LAP than with the wider community (please can you publish details of your relationship with LAP and how much they are paying you) something you can now only answer by coming out against the rent-rises.