28 June 2015 – is London eating itself? the refurbishment of Brixton Arches

Today’s UK Observer has an article, written by Rowan Moore,  that looks at how London has become a city ruled by money, and asks the question –  is London losing the ‘soft tissue’ that sustains urban life?

Part of what Rowan Moore considers is how the things that make London special – the markets, pubs, high streets and communities – are becoming unrecognisable. The refurbishment of Brixton railway Arches in south-west London is a focus. Here, José Cardoso runs a Mediterranean delicatessen, taken over from his father in the 1990s, and he comments on how many of the businesses have been under these arches for 20,30 or 40 years. José Cardoso goes on to say how his shop serves everyone from the white middle class buying Parma ham and olives to ‘immigrants getting day-to-day stuff and green coffee’. Like others, he has been given notice to quit by Network Rail so that renovation can take place – this will take more than a year, with the offer of £7000 compensation, and no right to return.

What really brings the point home about the story is Cardoso saying he doesn’t know where he will go – but if they do manage to find new premises, the rent will be much higher. As he says,’ we would have to go upmarket. It would exclude a a whole section of our customers and force them to buy in the chain supermarkets.’ His own and his staffs’ livelihoods are  ‘a piece of the area’s social fabric’ – and at the moment what he sells is affordable for all – and cheaper than the supermarkets.

You can read more about how gentrification is affecting UK markets:  @trad_markets

You can read the full article here