Marylebone Farmers Market is set to stay trading on Aybrook Street, after councillors debated the suitability of the street for stalls.
Five out of six councillors on the planning sub-committee supported the weekly Sunday market’s continued presence, with additional measures including traffic marshalling to take effect once the Marylebone Square development is complete.
Its operator, London Farmers Markets (LFM) expressed a preference for keeping stalls outside, rather than making use of the space set aside in the new building, dubbed Marylebone Hall, arguing that a covered environment would destroy the attraction’s atmosphere.
Speaking on behalf of LFM, Mark Handley said: “The Marylebone Farmers Market was established almost 20 years ago and was designed to act as a catalyst to increase footfall on Sundays and foster a greater sense of community.
“It has delivered on both, as demonstrated by the buoyant high street on Sundays and the huge level of support for this application”
“Trade has been high since the pandemic as many people began to appreciate the atmosphere of the market and the quality it is offering.
“Since this time the market has realised the benefits of being outdoors on the street and now believes indoor trading would jeopardise the market’s future.”
He added that indoor markets are not proven to be destination markets, and that trading under cover would render the market similar to a food shop.
London Farmers Markets was set up by American food writer Nina Planck in 1999. It has since expanded to 18 markets across the capital. The Marylebone market originally traded on the Moxon Street car park but was forced to move temporarily onto adjacent Aybrook Street when the land was earmarked for development.
The market’s temporary permission to operate on the street is due to expire in September 2024, with its application for an extension supported by over 50 residents as well as petition with an additional 97 signatures.
But committee chair Councillor Ruth Bush objected to the proposals, saying that she didn’t find arguments for not using the market hall credible and that LFM had not satisfactorily addressed issues of disability access and disturbance to local residents.
She said: “There are a good number of successful covered markets in London and elsewhere in the country and elsewhere n the world I do not really understand why there is hostility to a ‘combination market’ with some of it inside and some of it outside.”
There were also concerns raised over the possible mixing of traffic and pedestrians, with the entrance to the private Marylebone Square car park located in the centre of the market on Aybrook Street.
Bush continued: “If you have any kind of vehicle movement with stalls around as well it is virtually excluding people who have visual impairments in particular and other kinds of physical disabilities.
“I think the idea of this market is wonderful. I’m really glad it’s a success, but I’m not sure this is the right place for it.
All five of the other committee members voted in favour of approving the application for the market to stay fully outside, however there was disagreement on the whether and how to apply conditions designed to reduce the impact on local residents.
Some members felt the local community would benefit from the market opening an hour later. Councillor Paul Fisher expressed his desire for the market to open at 11am instead of 10am or for a shorter setup period than the 2 hours currently allowed.
Photo; Flickr/Magnus D.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Moxon Street Car Park was a World War II bomb site. It was in fact created from a slum cleared by the council in 1966 originally designated for education use.