Historic London wholesale markets face relocation

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

The new market site could include an apprenticeship school for butchers and fishmongers
The new market site could include an apprenticeship school for butchers and fishmongers
London's three main food wholesale markets are set for major changes, including relocation and consolidation.

Billingsgate Fish Market, Smithfield Meat and Poultry Market and New Spitalfields Fruit, Vegetable and Flowers Market, currently in separate locations, could all be relocated to a new, yet-to-be determined site, following a strategic review by the City of London Corporation.

The review was conducted to "secure their continued operational success"​ and a proposal was agreed that the three markets would be consolidated and relocated to a single site.

According to the City of London Corporation, the next step would be to acquire a "suitable"​ site of 100 acres, or a small number of sites in close proximity that add to 100 acres. The search is being undertaken by commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton.

Other proposals for the new site include related uses, such as an apprenticeship school for fishmongers and butchers.

External consultation will start shortly, with programme proposals being explored with traders, their customers and other tenants; Greater London Authority and the London boroughs where the existing sites are located; and MPs and relevant interested parties such a Historic England, the Victorian Society, and the Billingsgate Consultative Committee.

Once a site has been nominated by Lambert Smith Hampton, a business case, along with consultation outcomes, will be considered across a number of City Corporation committees for final approval.

Parliamentary legislation would also be required to agree any relocation with a Private Bill due to be submitted to Parliament. 

Roger Kelsey, chief executive of the National Craft Butchers, gave a cautious welcome to the proposals.

"It’s significant that this should be announced on the 150th Anniversary of Smithfield Market. When Smithfield was relocated to the Caledonia Road in Islington back in the 1850s, it was a disaster, resulting in a rethink and the present market being built.

"Moving Covent Garden to Nine Elms, Billingsgate to Poplar and Spitalfields to Stratford have not been the successes expected - hence a rethink now. Obviously times change and change has to be accommodated. Every journey begins with a single step and this is a first step at the beginning of a very long journey. The City Corporation has a monumental task finding and developing a 100-acre site. Let’s hope it has the budget and the support to match."

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