Bazaar idea wins big support in Hampstead

HAMPSTEAD shoppers look set to get a two-for-one offer with the clamour to bring back markets to Whitestone Pond

Marc Mullen

HAMPSTEAD shoppers look set to get a two-for-one offer with the clamour to bring back markets to Whitestone Pond.

During the 1960s, there was a thriving collection of stalls selling artwork on the pavement next to the landmark, at the corner of Heath Street and East Heath Road.

The market disappeared in the late 1980s but now two groups want to bring back the idea.

Essex Farmers' Markets (EFM), whose inaugural food market was thwarted by the Easter weekend snow, is in talks with Camden Council over proposals to have up to 40 food stalls on the site.

Ian Chisholm, EFM managing director, said: "It was very unfortunate about the weather over Easter weekend, but in the longer term we are very keen to establish a farmers' market with the full spectrum of food - free range pork, beef, lamb, nuts and olives.

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"The area is definitely crying out for a farmers' market. The site is a fantastic spot and the local people would really appreciate such a market."

EFM runs markets in Southend, Romford and Brentwood and is in also talking to Camden Council about rejuvenating the Queen's Crescent market.

It hopes to hold its first farmers' market in May on Heath Street. But it is not the only operator vying for the spot. A group of traders led by NW3Hampstead want an art market on the site.

Linda Chung, chairwoman of the business group, said: "We think we need something to attract people to the area and we think the best thing would be up-market art, which would be like it was before.

"We think it would work better in the summer. It may be possible to have our market one week and the farmers' market the other."

The NW3Hampstead group is carrying out a feasibility study and is in discussions with the council's licensing department.

NW3Hampstead committee member Jonathan Bergman said: "Our proposal is mostly for art, but we would want a healthy mix so that there is something for kids. We want to reinstate some of that traditional feel that Hampstead had 20 years ago."

The group hopes that any money brought into the council from the market will go towards rejuvenating the area around Whitestone Pond.

The developer of Heath House, which overlooks the pond, is helping to spruce up the area.

And the council has applied for 2012 Olympics' funding, as the cycle race passes by the pond.

Hampstead councillor Mike Greene said: "I think it is a site that would be suitable for a gourmet market. I wanted us to run it once to see if there was any mileage in proceeding with that."