COMMENT: Holiday Inn will benefit Brixton community

Written by on August 2, 2012 in Opinions, Uncategorized - 5 Comments

By Tony Browne

When I heard that Holiday Inn were coming to Brixton, I was actually excited. There is a real need for affordable guestrooms in Brixton. When friends and family visit, I can either put everyone up in my son’s tiny nursery, or pack them off to another part of London thirty minutes away. A low-cost alternative on my doorstep would make a huge difference to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

But I’m also excited for the wider community. At 8%, Lambeth has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We can’t afford to reject a £4.5m investment into Brixton, bringing with it an influx of tourism and jobs. Decent, stable work brought to an area of acute unemployment; these uplifting stories are a rarity nowadays.

Depressingly though, there’s a sweeping tide of rose-tinted conservatism which seems to follow announcements like these. For me, Brixton is a liberal and progressive community which welcomes all-comers and constantly evolves. Some of the hysteria and snobbery I’ve seen recently wouldn’t look out of place in the most reactionary of Middle-England village halls.

“Gentrification gone mad!” “Horrified and disgusted!” “This is the start of the end!” Remember, this used to be a Woolworths. Woolworths. Not an independent record store, or handmade clothing stall, or another kind of business deemed quintessentially ‘Brixtonian’ by our community conservatives. It was a corporate department store. Why is a corporate, budget hotel any less Brixton?

I’ll concede that the Brixton high street is overwhelmingly corporate. From TK Maxx to Starbucks to H&M, independent stores are at a premium. But this is just one stretch of shopfront amongst the many that we’re blessed with. What about Atlantic Road? Coldharbour Lane? Brixton Village? Full of interesting, unique, independent stores. Have we really ever had it so good?

When it arrives, the Holiday Inn will bring income, tourism and desperately needed jobs into our area. The company will invest millions turning a huge, unused space into something that will benefit our community, and support our local, independent businesses. Most importantly though, I might have fewer people sleeping on my couch.

Read the opposing view by Kevin James: New chain hotel erodes what diversity we have left. 

About the Author

Tim Dickens is co-founder of Brixton Blog

5 Comments on "COMMENT: Holiday Inn will benefit Brixton community"

  1. Mattthew Cheadle August 9, 2012 at 10:56 am · Reply

    There are some good points made here and there is definitely a reasoned debate to be had about the pros and cons of this hotel happening but I would advise the writer that starting your argument with anecdotal evidence about how the development will help YOU is hardly getting things off to a great start.

    I read a great tweet the other day about covered market restaurant/bar ‘scene’, it went something like ‘Kingston Upon Thames has just asked Brixton covered market for it’s clientele back.’ Whilst I’d question the use of Kingston U T to make the point it nevertheless rang true.

    My feelings on the hotel would be dictated by whether its existence would exacerbate the above situation. Brixton appears to be becoming more ‘us and them’ by the day.

  2. Matt Brown August 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm · Reply

    Well done Brixton Blog for putting across both sides of the debate in two separate articles. Much better way to do it than most hyperlocal sites who too often focus solely on the negative aspects of big new developments without also exploring the benefits.

  3. Amy August 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm · Reply

    Could not agree more, on all points!

  4. Mark August 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm · Reply

    Could not agree more. This is good for Brixton, it needs a hotel, and it needs employment opportunities for those that are of a mind to support themsleves and their families by contribution. Brixton is hardly what you would call a gentrified area, compare it to anything west fo centre and further affield and it still remains a squalid and tatty looking neighbourhood. There is no beginning and no end to a town’s development, all places are, have been and will be under continuous change, and anyway, I hardly think that what Brixton was and is now is very much to want keep in status quo. Whether the hotel is a chain or an ‘independently’ privately funded affair makes no difference at all, the money to underwrite it is all circulating around the same circles, and profits from it all go the same same way. When the money is that great to fund such a business as a hotel, I would rather the money goes into the hands of a business that will provide more stability for the employees, and customers, than into private hands that may launder it, or bribe politicians with it. Mom and Pops do not open 188 room hotels in cities. There are lots of empty standing commercial sites on Brixton Hill and in Coldhardbour Lane etc, they are empty because it is too risky for small shops to open up in the current climate. if a chain wants to do so good luck to them, any business is better than none. The economy drastically needs anything to get it moving in the right direction, not idealistic rhetoric that slows it down or cripples it further. My 2 cents.

  5. Erin Murphy August 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm · Reply

    Very good points made, I for one agree that it’s a very good thing for Brixton, Clapham would benefit from this kind of investment too!

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