As rents in Brixton soar and workplaces become luxury flats, Lambeth council has launched a project – Brixton Works – designed to boost the availability of cheap workspaces for start-ups.
Three organisations have been commissioned to run a feasibility study: Architecture 00, which has invested in a range of workspaces and not-for-profits; Camden Collective, a charity with experience of creating affordable workspace; and Impact Hub Brixton, a local collaborative workspace, based in Pop Brixton.
Between now and April they will work with local businesses, residents and other organisations to develop the project.
Joost Beunderman of Impact Hub says space for start-ups and small businesses is increasingly under pressure. “This means great talent and new ideas never have the chance to take off or are forced out of Brixton,” he says. “Ours is an ambitious project to respond to this problem and re-think the future provision of affordable workspace in Brixton.”
The aim, says Beunderman, is “to benefit the people of Brixton, create opportunities to support new jobs and businesses, and make sure that the Brixton economy remains open, diverse and democratic.
“Space matters because budding entrepreneurs need a place to start, to test a business idea or begin selling their products. But it is exactly this type of space that is getting squeezed out.”
One area Brixton Works could focus on is food. Shared kitchen space would enable food entrepreneurs to share resources.
Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council cabinet member for jobs and growth, who initiated the project, said: “Brixton Works is designed to intervene in the market to shape the economy not for the highest profit but for greater social outcomes.”
The council will provide £200,000 to support the development of Brixton Works. In the meantime the project will look for a temporary home.
The consultation will kick off with an event this month involving local entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create a Brixton Bond that would enable investment in local businesses that have a direct community benefit,” says Beunderman. “People think of the economy and community as different,” he says. “But a good business with a real purpose makes things that are worthwhile and is rooted in its community.”
The feasibility study is part of an open process and is looking for input from local people. The team is to host workshops so people can share ideas, insights and reflections. They will be at Impact Hub Brixton on Tuesday 16 February, 1–2pm and 6.30–7.30pm, and on Wednesday 18 February, 8–9am. There will be a longer co-creation session on Saturday 12 March, 1–5pm. Refreshments will be served.
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