In an exclusive, the Fresh Produce Journal reports that tenants at London’s New Covent Garden Market have instructed planning firm BNP Paribas to oppose the market authority’s plans for the redevelopment of the site, drawn up by Foster & Partners and Neil Tomlinson Architects.

The government decision on the bids is imminent.

Members of the Covent Garden Tenants’ Association (CGTA) complain that they have been increasingly left out of the planning process. They argue that the plans will jeopardise supply of produce for 40% of London’s meals.

The consultation process – a political ploy?

CGTA chairman Gary Marshall says that the Covent Garden Market Authority’s (CGMA) plan has ignored a raft of suggestions and objections from tenants. He said: “We were promised that the market’s tenants would be involved in the development of the design. But the evidence clearly suggests that this has merely been a political ploy to make it appear to the outside world that our views have been taken into account. We understand… that there would have to be consideration of residential developments and retail opportunities… we wanted to work with the CGMA and we don’t want to oppose their plans… but not when financial gain is being pursued to the detriment of the tenants of this market.”

Problems include: 

  • the design of the market
  • the way the tenants are housed within it
  • the lack of an agreeable decamp plan that allows business to trade through the six-year redevelopment process
  • poor transport access and parking  provision that tenants believe will drive customers away from the market and hamper distribution.

The Covent Garden Market Authority (CGMA) is a statutory corporation established by Act of Parliament in 196, responsible to Defra for the running of New Covent Garden Market.

The current chair is Baroness Brenda Dean, who was successfully wrong-footed by Rupert Murdoch during the Wapping dispute in the 80s when she represented the printing industry’s clerical and ancillary workers. CGMA provides warehouse and office premises, market halls, roads and parking &  supplies services including cleaning and waste disposal, energy supplies, site security, traffic control and the maintenance of buildings, plant and equipment.

It is advised on Market issues by five statutory committees whose members represent traders and Market workers, Market users such as growers, importers, retailers, local authorities and other trade organisations such as the National Farmers Union.

We hope that London and Birmingham traders will eventually agree with management on improvements to be made.