Monday, 15 February 2010

The 'Regeneration' of London Road

I would rather this blog didn't become a website dedicated to condeming Brighton and Hove City Council, but with so much incompetence and injustice rife in one small city, we might as well start local before going global. Charity, or the lack of it, in this case, begins at home.

The London Road, a deprived area of inner Brighton, is to undergo 'regeneration'. I remember as a student at Liverpool being interested in regeneration. It was a buzz word and seems to have been for quite a while. I got excited about it as it sounded like it meant making environments more pleasant for poor communities. I doubt very much, however, that it means in practise what it is appears to mean in name.

The regeneration of Brighton (and every city) has usually involved knocking down slum areas or areas of poverty, or areas with working class people and moving those people out to ghettos on the outskirts of the city, only to invite monied people in to inhabit that same area. This bit is called 'investment', I think. Don't they call it gentrification or something. The Brighton Unemployed Families Centre Project in Brighton will soon be running a photography exhibition of how Brighton has changed demographically in just this regard since around the time Greene wrote Brighton Rock.

Anyway, yet another proposal for the 'regeneration' of Brighton is the London Road area and a major part of it is the Open Market, a site owned by the Council which houses market traders who sell their goods and services 6 days a week off the London Road. It is nice as there is fishmongers, fruit and vegetable stalls, a bike repair shop, a cafe and places where people sell homegrown produce and bric-a-brac. This area is coming in for 'investment'. I might go and ask the traders how they feel about the 'regeneration' plans but I have a feeling they will be none too happy. Here is an image of what it is going to look like...tediously dull, in other words.

I called the man, Klaus, who lets out stalls in the current Open Market to ask about his rates as St Mary Magdalen's has so much stuff in the garage left over from the Car Boot Sale we organised last year, I figured, why not hire it and see if we can make a profit on stuff. Rental charge is £294 a month, which works out as £10 a day, the same as the hire of a car boot sale space. You can open up whenever you like and just sell whatever you want to sell and opening hours are up to you. I have no doubt whatsoever that the 'regeneration' of the open market will end up in the working class community of traders being asked to leave and a new brand of upper middle class traders selling posh cheese and stuff moving in.

My idea was that I could hire a garage and stalls there and set up something, selling second hand gear to raise some cash for the Building Fund. Not only that, but friends and I could start using out skills. We could sell food stuff chutnies. My cabinet making friend could make cabinets and sell them. My chef friend could sell food. All my unemployed friends could do stuff and make stuff to sell. I could sell a local magazine written by homeless people from there. We could do loads of stuff with some storage space. Anyway, the Open Market, due to the rather naff looking renovation project is a little up in the air at the moment.

The man who runs the operation, Klaus, said that any renting of the current open market is monthly now, as it is expected in the summer that the Open Market will basically be demolished and the new open plan arrangement of stalls will be introduced, I expect, with a completely different set of traders. More evidence, if ever it were needed, that this Council despise not only the very poor, but the honest, hard-working, working-class trading community of Brighton. The Council are into demolition and regeneration, it seems, in a big way. Have they ever considered such an operation on the Council itself?

Also, in more local news to really naff you off, the Preston Circus Fire Station is being closed down. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) are selling Preston Circus Fire Station. It is their plan to build a new station at an 'as-yet unknown' site in the city. The reasons given for the sale are that the station is old, 'not fit for purpose', and that Brighton requires a modern 'community' fire station.

A 'modern' community fire station? Is that the kind of fire station that is about 5 miles out of the city centre so that it takes longer to reach a roaring blaze? If the Council ride roughshod over the wishes of Brighton people like this for much longer, I wouldn't be surprised if the Council will be in need of the fire rescue service themselves. With any luck, they'll have moved to an 'as-yet unknown' site by then...


Physiocrat said...

Come on, get your planning and land use theory up to speed.

A substantial amount was wasted on the market about 10 years ago. Brighton could do with a covered market on the lines of those they have in towns in the north of England. The rents are fixed by the profitability of the shops or stalls that go in them. Which is ok as long as the owners do not keep them empty. I doubt if the council is going to be able to charge big rents for stalls in a refurbished Open Market because the potential big spenders do not exist. In fact the council could end up losing money on this exercise.

More to the point is the number of vacant shops in London Road itself, not excluding the old Co-op. These could be sub-divided and filled with stalls something like Snoopers' Paradise. The artificial shortage caused by owners leaving property vacant is a reason why poverty and unemployment are so bad.

That said, the scheme looks pretty tacky.

danny said...

having had a very lucrative shop on the market a few years ago ican say the council must be totally stupid it would have made far more sense to have used the old co-op store or a similar venue as a temporary market,and giving the old traders first choice on the new one,instead they have justscrewed them over,no wonder so many small taders are leaving brighton in droves,i had to stop my business due to ill health some 3 years ago but now i am ready to trade again the market has gone to pot,as with alot of others i think a move out of brighton is in order,the council are killing this town bit-by-bit

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