The council has commissioned the Brixton Economic Action Plan to understand how it can shape economic growth in the town centre to maximise opportunities for local businesses and drive inward investment.
The plan will identify opportunities for sector growth and priorities, such as affordable work space and the Brixton Works project, which is looking at how the council manages commercial space in the town centre in the future.
A number of workshops to help develop the Brixton Economic Action Plan were held in late 2015. Consultation on the draft document is planned for late February 2016.
A place to do business now
Brixton is one of two major town centres in Lambeth (the other is Streatham).
Brixton Road, between Acre Lane and Stockwell Road, is the primary shopping street, with Morleys department store and a number of national chains. Along Coldharbour Lane, Brixton Station Road and Atlantic Road are the secondary retail areas, including a large number of railway arches, the markets and largely independent shops and businesses.
The Brixton BID (Business Improvement District) was set up in early 2014 and represents over 650 businesses (those with a rateable premises of over £5,000).
Around 250 local businesses now accept the Brixton Pound, which launched in 2009 and is now available as paper and electronic currency.
The recent Brixton Business Survey showed that:
- 81% of Brixton retail businesses are independents – much higher than the 66% UK average
- 57% of businesses have been in Brixton for more than 10 years
- 47% of Brixton businesses are part of the night time economy
Breakdown by business sector
As the administrative centre of Lambeth – there is significant public sector office space.
Retail makes up 11% of all business units, and as seen above, the majority of these are independents. Many are also highly specialised.
Food and drink businesses help to define Brixton town centre and make up about 10% of businesses – 177 of them are part of the night time economy.
Brixton has a growing reputation for its creative economy. ICT and digital services makes up about 9% of business units; the number of media and broadcasting businesses is almost double the London average; and the number of other creative businesses, such as architecture and publishing, is currently about 8% and growing. However, the numbers are typically much lower in Brixton than in other similar London town centres and there is a real opportunity to increase the business base in these sectors.
Professional services, such as accounting and legal make up 20% of businesses base but contribute fewer than expected high value jobs to the local economy.
Organisations and businesses that prioritise ‘social value’ (such as Brixton Cycles, The Remakery and Impact Hub) are much-loved in Brixton and contribute to its unique character.
Doing business in Future Brixton
From our 2014 business survey, we found that 65% of businesses rated their current location as good or very good. This was because of its proximity to Central London, the lively and diverse community, and recent improvements to the area.
61% of businesses thought the area had improved over the last three years and a similar number were planning to grow their business.
Future Brixton investments are expected to see an extra £2.2million spent in the local economy by new residents and visitors. This is opportunity particularly for retail, food and drink, entertainment and leisure businesses.
We also expect local supply chains to benefit from construction projects.
Future growth sectors are expected to build upon Brixton’s existing and emerging specialisms, such as creative industries, ICT and digital media, media and broadcasting and specialist retail.
However, one thing that is holding back more growth in these sectors is a lack of suitable space. There are a number
of premises which provide flexible accommodation for SMEs and creative businesses, but employment uses are coming under pressure from housing development.
Future Brixton developments aim to provide additional employment space:
- Brixton Central – 6,000 sqm of employment space, plus the potential for an increase in retail units
- Your New Town Hall – doubling the co-working space previously piloted in the basement of the town hall to 500 sqm
- Somerleyton Road – 2 floors of office space above the new theatre and Carlton Mansions refurbished as creative workspace, around 3,000 sqm
Other Future Brixton projects supporting business are:
- Pop Brixton a council-led initiative to promote jobs and training on a vacant site, prior to its long-term redevelopment as part of the Brixton Central masterplan. There are 59 upcycled shipping containers providing food and drink, retail and office space. Half of the businesses are start-ups and ten units are offered at subsidised rent based on supporting growing businesses or community give back.
- Brixton Works is a new council-led project that aims to provide affordable workspace in Brixton. It is designed to intervene in the market to shape the local economy, not for the highest profit but for greater social outcomes. The council has commissioned three organisations (Architecture00, Camden Collective and Impact Hub Brixton CIC) to work with local businesses and residents to develop a business model that is self-sustaining. This work is due to complete end of April 2016.
- Pivot Brixton was developed by a local small business owner and established in partnership with Lambeth Council and the Brixton BID to help Brixton’s ever-changing and booming independent retail sector. 15 spaces are available for masterclasses focusing on growth and profit, marketing, branding, leases, growing powerful teams and visual merchandising.
- Back2Business is a new project supported by Lambeth Council to help local residents who are in long-term unemployment, have been made redundant or are facing financial instability to gain confidence, business skills and support they need to launch their own business. The project is delivered by Brand Amplifier and Tree Shepherd who run business training programmes.