Will council plans win favour at Queens Market?

Newham Council have finalised their development strategy for the borough which highlights plans for Queens Market on Green Street.

A market has stood on the site for 111 years and has deteriorated in the last decade with two failed attempts at renovation.

Firstly, Asda’s big plans failed in 2006. Then property developer St. Modwen had their follow-up designs rejected in 2009 due to it’s inappropriate 31-storey tower block.

The council lost patience with St. Modwen and assumed control and running of the market. A new roof costing £140,000 has done little to stop water leaking through and stall-holders tell me customers are still on the decline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Newham Council have declared Green Street one of their strategic sites for development and want to add larger retail units but keep providing for small independents.

“Green Street town centre will maintain its specialist ethnic retail identity with a local to international draw, popular market place and independent shops and quality evening offer that continues to evolve……Queen’s Market will be an important meeting place for the local community as at present, reinforced through co-location of other community uses”.

Despite use of vague council language it does suggest that they are looking to retain the market but build both housing and more retail space on this site and the surrounding are.

This is where we reach the important stumbling block. It seems that the council insists that the current market can’t be maintained or updated and needs to be rebuilt if it is to stay. Stallholders and shoppers meanwhile are worried about a temporary location during building work as well as increased rents when a new market is completed.

Locals are in agreement that the Olympics are great for Stratford and some are looking forward to increased footfall in Green Street this summer. Currently the best days for the market are when West Ham United play at home. This is where the second problem for the market lies.

The council are still keen for the football team to be moved to the Olympic stadium. The Boleyn Ground would then give an “opportunity to create an exemplar urban village development, incorporating high quality housing, community uses, and community green space.”

Stall-holders I spoke to are worried this loss of custom could be more damaging than any supermarket’s ideas.

Initial signs show that these new plans for the market aren’t welcome. The council need to win favour with the community. West Ham’s potential move makes this process even harder.