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Westminster's street markets adapt to survive

Council chiefs have been talking with traders and residents in Westminster about how street markets can continue to thrive in the future.

More than 900 people have been giving their feedback on what they want to see happen over the coming months and years to reverse the long-term decline of their local markets. Among suggestions were a growing of diversity of stallholders and stalls, introduction of cashless payments and special events to take place. Councillor David Harvey remarked 'we can't afford to stand still, people's shopping habits have changed and the markets need to adapt'.

Among the challenges facing markets are a decline of traditional markets for everyday shopping, competition from privately operated markets, continuing rise in street food over traditional stalls and increase in online shopping with decline in high street footfall. Following on from the consultation, Westminster City Council now plans to start improvements at five of its street markets: Berwick Street, Church Street, Maida Hill, Strutton Ground and Tachbrook Street.

In an unrelated move this March, the London Borough of Redbridge has unveiled plans for a 162-acre site in Fairlop, as the potential new home for three of London's most iconic markets: Billingsgate, Smithfield and New Spitalfields. The City of London Corporation is seeking to relocate three of their wholesale food markets onto a single site to guarantee their long-term operations. It is currently in the process of shortlisting potential sites ahead of a period of public consultation due to take place this summer.

The site in Redbridge is the only proposed scheme that is large enough for a new modern facility whilst remaining located within the M25. The relocation is expected to create up to 3,500 jobs alongside 200 new SME's and businesses, with a planned on-site training academy. With a predicted combined turnover of around £800 million, the markets would bring wider economic benefits to the area.

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