GLA throws weight behind markets push

Friday 19 May 2017

The GLA is putting its weight behind London’s markets in a series of initiatives that recognise their important place in the capital.

Senior projects officer at the GLA Tina Jadav, speaking at this morning’s NLA breakfast talk: Taking Stock: London’s evolving marketssaid City Hall is launching new research into markets’ wider benefits, is creating a new London Markets Board and has been shortlisted to stage an international public markets conference. The Mayor Sadiq Khan is also set to announce a funding programme for improvements to some of London’s 280 markets – up from 162 in 2010 – and will be making recommendations that feed into the London Plan.

‘London’s markets are manifestations of our openness to the world’, said Jadav. ‘They’re an essential part of Londoners’ everyday experience of the capital.’

The research will look at how markets are adapting and fitting into regeneration areas, and there may even be a move to look at the licensing act. ‘We really think markets need to be recognised as open workspace’, Jadav added. ‘There is a lot of support and momentum from City Hall and we will push for an agenda which for a long time has not been recognised.’

Market Tech group property director Mark Alper said markets were engrained into who we are as a society and a symbol of how we interact with each other. The future of e-commerce, he said, is absolutely bricks and mortar, and markets such as Camden – with its 40 million visitors per year and 6,000 on its waiting list for pitches – are ‘about communities’ with new elements such as housing and workspace for creatives. Camden is also set to unveil new underground structures, reinvigorated for the first time in 150 years, Alper revealed.

At Walthamstow Market, meanwhile, changes are also underfoot. Jonathan Martin, director of investment and delivery at LB Waltham Forest, said that the market had grown organically from its initiation in 1885 to become ‘a huge asset in the centre of the borough’. The longest market in Europe, Walthamstow has issues for its traders such as the need for improved lighting, parking, and toilets, and for customer issues like rubbish clearance and need for reduced crowding. Gort Scott have been engaged to improve the design of the market and contribute to what Martin calls its strategy to ‘keep, seed and grow’ the asset. But another key point was about demographics and changing work patterns. The market opens at 9am and closes before commuters return, so the authority is looking at other uses and working with traders on their hours of operation. ‘We want to build on the culture that’s there and build on the asset of the market’, he said.

The conference also heard from Stiff+Trevllion director Lance Routh, who outlined the work his practice is doing with the Westway Trust on revitalising Portobello Market and environs. ‘It’s a very vibrant market but only operates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday’, he said. ‘For the rest of the time it is pretty dead and needs an injection of energy to bring the whole thing to life.’ 

David Taylor

Editor, New London Quarterly 

Part of the NLA Retail Programme  

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