This morning I read an article on The Brixton Blog about a multi-million pound Holiday Inn set to be built in Brixton town centre, after plans were approved by Lambeth council. Work on the hotel will begin later this year on the 188-room hotel, costing £4.5m, on the former Woolworths site on Brixton Road. However many of the tweets and comments on the internet I read were greatly against the arrival of the hotel.
Personally I am struggling to understand the full anger towards the proposal of an empty warehouse contributing nothing to the local area, being converted into a Holiday Inn. Tourism has never been so strong in London. The wealth the hotel will bring into the immediate area will support the full range of local businesses and increase job opportunities. Brixton has been a treasure trove of boutique restaurants, independent stores and vibrant markets for so long, will a few tourists staying over night in the area, instead of simply visiting for the day change that?
In my seven years of living in London, I’ve spent my last four in Brixton. I love it. Before I moved here the majority of my friends were shocked at my even considering moving here. They’d daren’t wander off the high street whilst in the area to attend gigs at the Academy and always headed straight home afterwards. I myself had only visited on a handful of occasions before living here, but I was attracted to the culture of the area and potential it had for me to set up home.
The city is now becoming more welcoming and open and reading a lot of online comments, I feel many of the residents need to do the same too. Brixton is starting to make the headlines again, but this time for positive reasons. Surely that’s a good thing? We should be proud of the area and influx of people coming to peak into our pop up shops and tasty bistros.
It’s now time for Brixton to shake off the prejudice towards ‘outsiders’. Businesses need to stop waiting to be ‘found’ and pull their socks up and use their unique and urban appeal to establish themselves as competitors for big name brands. I do not agree with erecting a Café Nero and Pizza Express on every corner, or booting out long standing establishments. However I am saying some strategically chosen bigger businesses, like a Holiday Inn, need to expand into the area in order for it to gain recognition and development in new areas and bring people traffic.
I read a lot of blogs and tweets from people who seem to put Brixton and the community on a sort of pedestal for idealised local living and that it should never change. Of course I want the spirit of the area which first attracted me to live here to stay and for the hardworking locals and their buisnesses to remain. However, Brixton is in zone 2 of London, the capital city of Great Britain. It is not out in the country suburbs, so can’t keep acting like it is.
If it wants to survive in the multicultural, ever evolving landscape, it can’t remain so insular. It needs to open up to the opportunity for change and fresh blood. The area’s wealth can’t be kept sustained on vegan cupcake shops and second hand book shops alone. No one complained about H&M or Boots opening, what difference is the hotel?
The Granville Arcade has flourished in recent years thanks to the strength of tourists, word of mouth from other Londoners and recently celebration from national media such as The Guardian and Stylist. The Ritzy cinema attracts fantastic cinema festivals and guest speakers. The Electric Brixton is now hosting celebrity parties and big club nights.
I think Brixton has an incredible community. I have felt completely welcomed and at home here since the moment I moved and don’t wish to live anywhere else in London. I support the local business on a daily basis – all my veg is from Danny’s Grocer on Electric Avenue and meat from surrounding butchers, I am a regular at Fujiyama and Honest Burger and member of The Ritzy cinema.
We should think carefully before turning away people and buisnesses who want to be a part of this community and what to help it prosper. The wider city of London is waking up to that once avoided place at the end of the Victoria Line and looking to make investments in our buildings. This is a great time for change, so let’s be a community who help curate it.