Camden Lock Market traders facing uncertain future
- Credit: Archant
Traders at the famous Camden Lock fear being priced out of the market after the owners won planning permission for a £20 million redevelopment of the site.
Camden Council unanimously backed the plans from owners Market Tech Holdings, who purchased the market in 2014 for around £2.3 billion and whose chief shareholder is Israeli entrepreneur Teddy Sagi.
One trader, Rosemary, said: “Me and my fellow traders are very worried about the effect the proposals will have on our business. I am now totally resigned to the fact that we cannot do anything to prevent the redevelopment of the market, but I still want to ensure that the impact on the business is as minimal as possible.”
Planning permission covers an area of 130,000 square feet in and around the existing site in Chalk Farm Road, and will see a complete revamp of the market area to make space for new restaurants, galleries and an auditorium for live entertainment.
Plans will also see the opening up of so-called “Dead Dog Basin”, an area currently closed off to the public, and the creation of a new pathway by the canal.
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Whilst some traders said they welcome the development, others addressed the council’s planning committee to express their concerns that the cost of rent could escalate and the character of the market could be destroyed.
The developer said they will aim to relocate all traders, but could only commit to two thirds. There are plans in place to relocate traders to Hawley Wharf Market, which is currently under construction, and others can be accommodated in the Stables Market, but some traders are concerned the Hawley Wharf Market won’t be completed in time..
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Rosemary said: “If both these markets are closed at the same time, it will be a devastating situation for traders.”
Another trader, Anna, said that Camden High Street had changed beyond recognition over the years so that most shops there now sell mass produced goods, which she said is “the polar opposite of what you would expect to find in an alternative or artist driven destination, which is what Camden has become famous for.”
She said this was due to an increase in real rental costs, well above the rate of inflation, and that she fears rents in the market will inevitably shoot up.
She said: “Developers don’t spend millions on redevelopment to make the same rental income as they are making from small independent traders.
“Any redevelopment could not recreate the alternative charm the market currently possesses. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
But the applicant said the proposals have the support of Historic England, and that the new layout will help bring in additional trade to the market, whilst opening up the Middle Yard and Dead Dog Basin will ease the flow of congestion.
Cllr Pat Callaghan, ward councillor for Camden Town, said the redevelopment is “genuinely welcomed” and that there has been an active push from the developer to retain the character of the area.
Permission was granted subject to a relocation strategy for traders being agreed and that a minimum of one floor of the new Middle Yard should be used for manufacturing.