Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields sites would be redeveloped
The City of London Corporation has today submitted plans designed by Chetwoods for the UK’s largest wholesale food market in Dagenham.
The project would combine the current operations of historic Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields markets on one site on the very eastern edge of the capital.
The 42-acre brownfield site, chosen for its rail and river links, is the former home of Barking Reach Power Station, now known as Dagenham Dock.
The relocation of three historic markets will free up huge tracts of valuable land for mixed-used developments, the City of London Corporation has said.
Smithfield is London’s oldest market, with trading at the site stretching back for 1,000 years, and is the last wholesale market in central London. Billingsgate, the UK’s largest inland fish market, moved from the City to the Isle of Dogs in 1982. New Spitalfields, which specialises in fruit and vegetables, moved from Spitalfields to Leyton in 1991.
New Spitalfields’ 13ha site in Leyton and, in particular, Billingsate’s 5ha site next to Canary Wharf, would be ripe for redevelopment if the low-rise market buildings were swept away.
A City spokesperson told Building Design when the plans were announced in January: “The New Spitalfields and Billingsgate sites could become mixed-use developments providing new homes, work and office space; while relocating the meat market would release the Smithfield site so it can sit at the heart of a cultural district.”
The City’s “Culture Mile” project includes Stanton Williams’ new home for the Museum of London in West Smithfield. It said today its plan for the meat market building would involve a cultural use supported by commercial space.
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James Tumbridge, chairman of the City Corporation’s markets committee, said: “As we look beyond the current pandemic, it is so important to invest in the future and help recovery. These plans aim to provide an exciting new home for our markets at Dagenham Dock that will safeguard their long-term future, securing jobs.
“Importantly, a new food school will help to train tomorrow’s market traders by providing the skills required to develop the next generation of butchers, fishmongers, and fruiterers.”
Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking & Dagenham council, said the proposals were a ”ray of sunshine in the otherwise gloomy covid-19 climate” and a vote of confidence in the borough.
“Dagenham is now a hive of activity with the construction of the UK’s largest data centre and University College London’s Pearl research facility now underway, and London’s largest film studios on track to be built here too,” he said.
Pat Hayes, managing director of the council’s development company Be First, said: “The plans to move the markets supports our aspiration to make Dagenham Dock a state-of-the-art business park and build on the area’s impressive rail and port infrastructure to create a major growth hub for the Thames Estuary.”
Barking & Dagenham will assess the application later this year. If consent is granted, the City Corporation will be required to submit a series of detailed planning applications, with the target of opening the new markets by 2025/2026.