The controversial eviction of most of the traders operating along the arches in Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road by Network Rail has left Brixton with a ‘dead zone’ in its heart.
With very little progress being made, we have received this update from a local resident:
It would be interesting to be the elephant in Planet Lambeth’s meeting rooms to see exactly how they go about their business, particularly when dealing with opportunists like Network Rail, who are seemingly allowed to act with impunity towards the various laws and bye-laws maintained by our council and its officers.
The Brixton Arches development is a prime example, with Lambeth and their senior staff acting like concubines within their perplexing relationship with Network Rail, releasing their partners from the tiresome requirements to comply with the kind of rules and regulations used to punish the rest of the citizens of this borough.
This has been noted by the community as the initial clearance and site preparation works progress in the few arches that Network Rail currently possess, with their contractors, (KCP Demolition), immune to punishment for everyday offences on our streets, which normally attract fines and censure.
These contractors have been permitted by Lambeth Highways to regularly take control of the loading bays on Atlantic Road with teams of construction workers hauling large debris bins, (often during the morning rush hour at Brixton Station), down the already constricted and hoarded off pavements to their parked lorries on Atlantic Road.
Local Parking Wardens have since confirmed that they were advised by their masters not to issue tickets to the contractors vehicles, as displaced delivery drivers to the nearby businesses and markets have to risk the attentions of the eager wardens looking elsewhere for Lambeth’s parking revenues.
KCP Demolition teams have also been allowed to defy Lambeth’s highway regulations by bringing construction vehicles along Brixton Station Road and dragging heavy machinery across the pavements and through the remnants of the now terminally damaged street market into their site.
Some of their works have also occurred to parts of the viaduct that are not hoarded off, but once again this is not being challenged by Lambeth Highways or Planning Enforcement.
In the past two months, Andrew Burton, Head of Lambeth Highways has also gone on record stating that Network Rail were instructed to re-fix the disruptive hoardings on Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road closer to the arches, but this has still not happened.
Mr Burton has also advised that he is fully aware of the “contractor’s lack of progress” but still nothing happens with these unnecessary obstructions put in the way of the general public.
Mr Burton’s Department is also responsible for the issuing of licenses for these hoardings, but the initial permits have now expired and no new licenses are on display, as required by Lambeth’s own Highways regulations.
To further complicate matters, the works that have now commenced within sections of the viaduct has been facilitated by the Planning Officer’s volte-face over the planning conditions and the change in interpretation over Condition 4, Construction and Environment Management Plan, which was clearly and correctly designed to cover all initial site clearance and site preparation works that are currently occurring.
The deleterious results of this puzzling change of position can now be seen, with heavy demolitions and other operations in sections of the viaduct that have generated dust, noise, vibrations and there have also been sightings of various rodents fleeing these disturbances, all of which have been affecting the legitimate traders and their customers who remain within the arches.
Of course the whole of the community want to see an end to this appallingly planned development, as the dead-zone in the centre of Brixton that has been created by Network Rail is seriously damaging much of the local community, general access around the town and the business prospects of traders who remain within the arches and nearby.
Tragically however, it will be impossible for Network Rail to commence the main development works until both William Hill and H&T Pawnbrokers have been removed from their premises within the viaduct.
The problem is that these two companies both have leases preventing their eviction for the operations permitted within the planning permission.
This stand off is likely to continue until such time that their leases have expired, which is widely known to be 2020.
This utterly toxic mess is made all the more galling by the fact that our elected council and senior Lambeth staff are prepared to bend over backwards and let Network Rail slowly kill off the local community in Brixton, something they claimed to be so concerned about preserving within the text of their original planning application documents.
What exactly is happening and how will this shambles be resolved?
Who knows, not Lambeth Council and certainly not anyone within the community. The only people who can advise over this mess is either Network Rail, William Hill or H&T Pawnbrokers, but none of them are talking.
[This article by a local resident who has elected to remain anonymous]
Brixton Arches background & resources:
The vote to redevelop Brixton Arches: smear campaigns, doublethink and foregone decisions
Brixton’s A&C Deli: the inside story of a small business destroyed by gentrification, Network Rail & Lambeth Council.