And for Daren Nathan of London Square – which is the preferred bidder for the Growing Brixton Rec Quarter project including 240 new homes and workspace, that interplay with the community was essential. ‘Everything we’re doing is talking about how we engage’, he said, pointing to a new community review panel it has formed, ‘co-designing’ and working to provide what Brixton wants, and employing a ‘community communicator’ to help too.
Initiatives like the Brixton Village project are proving successful, its Diana Nabagereka pointing to the many small enterprises and F&B firms that have begun there and since thrived. ‘We are proud to say we birth businesses like Honest Burger and like Franco Manca within Brixton Village’, she said. ‘So it’s about just letting people know that opportunity is still there, and we’re still open to it’.
Other successful and global companies, like Jellyfish Pictures, have also chosen to come to Brixton, away from the usual Soho hotspot for visual effects and animation firms. Phil Dobree of the firm said that companies like his have a responsibility to the wellbeing of their staff, and that relocating was part of its B Corp journey. ‘There are a lots of things you can do to make your business more worthwhile, like being somewhere like Brixton.’
The Brixton House Theatre, meanwhile, has also proved a source and showcase of local talent, said Gbolahan Obisesan. ‘A lot of us will have encountered some form of art that has been quite transformative and profound in our lives, to help us find a path, our tribe and find a space that we’re able to be ourselves in and thrive.’
Binki Taylor of the Brixton Project recognised the key need to consult on changes, but since the pandemic when it engages, as well as what is being engaged about has changed. There is now an enormous opportunity to innovate, heal and transform, engage people in dialogue and allow narratives to emerge, she said. ‘This is a period of time that is unearthing a deep desire and a demand for a reset on the way we talk with people about the challenges we face.’
But perhaps one thing to take away from Brixton, said Naz Hoque of Raw Material was a feeling. ‘It’s the love’, he said. ‘You have to be here’. And finally, Oluwatoyin Odunsi of the Brixton House Theatre, said the final thing was integrity. ‘Brixtonians are very honest people’, she said. ‘If they don’t feel you, you’ll know it. They don’t hide it, but if you do well they will get behind you.’
Images: © Luke O'Donovan