Wards Corner Community Coalition
Wards Corner Community Coalition was formed in 2007 in opposition to a plan to demolish a Latin American indoor market and adjacent buildings and create chain shops and private housing (we have already posted a brief summary of their project and campaigning here). WCCC, local residents and planners and the West Green Road and Seven Sisters Development Trust came together to create a Community Development Plan on the site of the existing (mainly Latin American) Wards Corner Market. In an amazing victory for bottom-up planning, planning permission for this Community Plan was granted in 2014, but so was planning permission for an alternative private development, which does not guarantee the future size, shape and rents of the market. This is despite Wards Corner Market being formally registered as a community asset. There is also a proposal for a new private housing development opposite the market, which is opposed by many local people. Therefore the campaign has the twin challenge of launching and fundraising in order that the community plan be realised and also contesting other nearby/competing developments. WCCC and other local groups are part of a new large network, Our Tottenham, established in 2013 as a group of groups which stands and campaigns for ‘planning and regeneration by the community, for the community’. They also have a petition to Haringey Council to support the community plan for Wards Corner
Friends of Queen’s Market/ BoleynDev100
Friends of Queen’s Market began in 2006 when a planning application by private developer StModwen threatened the future of Queen’s Market, a large daily food, clothing and goods market in Newham, East London. The campaign is separate from traders but has a good relationship with them, attending meetings for solidarity and support. The campaign has used a combination of lobbying, research, public events and demonstrations and working with other local groups who campaign on similar issues. They also successfully challenged the way the impact of the development had been assessed. In 2009, planning was turned down and the market was saved from that particular development. However, the campaign was not over, as the local authority continues to explore ways of regenerating the market. Adjacent to Queen’s Market is the current West Ham football ground, Boleyn Ground. The club is going to move to another stadium, making way for a new development on the site, which has been sold to Galliard Homes for a private housing development for 838 homes, some facilities but no social or affordable housing. FOQM decided to make the demand for 100% social housing on the site, in order to reflect the huge local need for genuinely affordable housing in Newham. This campaign, Boleyn Development 100, is now a separate campaign, still in alliance with FOQM.
Tower Hamlets Renters
Formed in 2013, TH Renters are a housing action group based in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets. They focus on improving conditions and legislation, mainly for private renting, through meetings, demos, information and skills sharing and lobbying. They are part of the wider Radical Housing Network in London, which despite its name also has groups who campaign around urban issues beyond housing. While their focus is still private renting, TH Renters have also addressed social rented housing and recently also branched out into challenging whole regeneration schemes, namely the Chrisp Street area in Poplar. This is an area of dense social housing, shops and a small street market. The main social landlord, Poplar HARCA, is undertaking a (delayed) major regeneration of housing and shops around Chrisp Street, including 750 new homes and new shops and amenities such as a cinema, restaurants cultural space. TH Renters, local residents and traders are concerned that the regeneration will permanently displace social housing tenants and leaseholders due to rising rents and a recomposition of proportions of the types of housing. There are similar issues with Poplar HARCA properties nearby, where demolition and refurbishment has significantly reduced the quantity of social and ‘affordable’ housing. As with many other struggles over the affordability and access of public/urban places, there has been a sustained underinvestment in the infrastructure of buildings, despite reliable profits from tenants. At Chrisp Street Market (actually in a shopping precinct square, the first ever built in the UK) , around 10-15 traders sell food, clothing and household items daily. Traders have told activists that they are frustrated by 5 years of delays to the regeneration and have been given little information about their place in the new development. One key issue is the lack of parking provision in the new scheme, which will almost certainly reduce trade. TH Renters are focusing on gathering information, raising awareness and forcing local councillors to scrutinise the development and make sure tenants and traders are genuinely included and supported in new developments. Their strategy is to continue to engage with the redevelopment in terms of all those affected, including traders, partly in order to find more people who want to actively participate in campaigning around housing and local development. As well as having stalls, they have also started their own consultation on the future of Chrisp Street, before planning permission is submitted.
It is clear from these and other campaigns around markets that the issue of traditional/street markets in London is often indivisible from the wider ‘right to the city’, around housing, public space/ amenities, community representation and the democratic process itself. All three groups mentioned are networked in wider formal networks such as Our Tottenham and the Radical Housing Network as well as more informal networks, alliances and personal relationships. In the case of Queens Market, one successful and specific local campaign has incubated and given birth to another. It might seem obvious but what this shows is that markets, like housing, bring passionate and diverse people together who use their different skills and energies to fight for and sometimes build a more democratic, egalitarian version of the city.