Jack Baillie reports on how people in Lambeth fought back against the destructive effects of wealth investment in their community

UPDATE: Since this blog was written the proposed Hondo Tower development by Taylor McWilliams company which was set to overshadow central Brixton has been approved by Lambeth Council and subsequently 'called-in' by the Mayor Of London - this means that he will reconsider the approval after public hearings.

Jack writes,

In April 2020 ‘Pretty Vacant’, a publication by Action On Empty Homes, revealed the extent and impact of ‘wealth investment’ in London.

Wealth investment refers to investments in residential property that yield profits for investors without ever providing a home for any primary or permanent residents.

Wealth investment in London follows the wider pattern of financialisation of Britain’s housing markets – homes are now treated primarily as investments as opposed to a place for people to live in.

One of the London boroughs most impacted by wealth investment is the London borough of Lambeth.

In 2019 nearly 1000 homes in Lambeth were listed as long-term empty homes, with an additional 3,500 listed on short-term letting sites like Airbnb. That’s nearly 5,000 homes in the borough without long-term occupants because occupying the homes would the reduce investment returns for their owners.

While the adverse effects of wealth investment have primarily been felt in Lambeth’s residential housing market, it’s effects on commercial property have received increasing attention in recent months with the public outcry against the eviction of Nour Cashand Carry.

Nour, located in Brixton Market, has served the community of Brixton with low-cost, high-end groceries for over 20 years and has been particularly important to Brixton’s varied ethnic and migrant populations.

In spite of this, following the purchase of Brixton markets by millionaire DJ Taylor McWilliams, Nour Cash and Carry was served with a section 25 eviction notice to leave the premises on 22nd July 2020.

The public outcry in response has been immense. The Save Nour campaign can be found on twitter (@SaveNour), Instagram (@save_nour) and on their petition (linktr.ee/SAVENOUR) which has so far gathered more than 50,000 signatures.

After weeks of campaigning by the community, Nour signed an agreement with McWilliams’ development company for a long-term lease in Brixton market at an affordable rent. Nour was saved!

Organisers of the Save Nour campaign say they plan to use the networks and resources built during the campaign to continue fighting for the Brixton community against detrimental wealth investment.

They can take confidence from the successful protection of Nour Cash and Carry in their continued struggle against the disruptive effects of wealth investment in Lambeth!