A group of residents and traders in Lower Clapton E5 have begun a campaign to bring back a market which disappeared in the early 1990s.
Chatsworth Road Traders’ & Residents’ Association (TRA), a not-for-profit community organisation aimed at promoting the high street and immediate surrounding area, now has a working group dedicated to the market campaign and will start a widespread consultation with local people.
Ashley Parsons, a member of the TRA, explains the motivation: “We see Chatsworth Road as a vital community hub for a large diverse community – not only a lifeline in terms of the jobs and services it offers, but a place where people come to meet and talk. We believe a weekly market will help regenerate the high street at time when it is under threat from global recession and expanding supermarkets.”
Chatsworth Road has a 120 year history as an independent commercial centre, and there was a busy market which ran the length of the street selling everything from clothes to fruit. It finally fell foul of the 1990 recession and changes in shopping patterns.
Omar Nissar, whose family has run Carnival Cards on the street for more than 25 years, remembers the market: “There were more people, more shops and more specialist shops. A market would really brighten up Chatsworth Road and if people come and see the market going on, they’ll explore the whole street.”
The campaign aims to resist the uniformity of most high streets across the country, and provide a shopping experience quite at odds with a typical supermarket. The market would come at a time when demand for local quality produce at reasonable prices is increasing. The TRA sees the opportunity to support entrepreneurship by providing an outlet for products of Hackney’s burgeoning ‘cottage industries’, whilst avoiding high commercial rents for shops units.
Ashley Parsons sees it as a natural development to the street which continues to attract new independent businesses: “The street is actually a really well designed public space and the market barrow bays are still there to be used, set into the wide pavements. It’s very easy to wander down Chatsworth Road and imagine the market taking place here again.”
Many of the traders on the street are supportive of the proposal. Remy Zentar, of L’Epicerie said: “It is not going to be a problem for existing shops, just the opposite. The more the merrier. The more business in the street, the more we all benefit. Going to the supermarket with the kids isn’t fun – you’ve got to fight traffic and queues. But kids really don’t mind going to a street market. It’s like a family outing.”
Chatsworth Road TRA will be rolling out a widespread consultation process to enable local residents to have their say. If all goes well and it gets the backing of local people, it will aim for a summer 2009 launch.
Recognizing that the market will only be a success with local community support and involvement, Ashley Parsons said: “We want to be open-minded, and get community views on what kind of market they want and concerns they may have. People may even tell us they don’t want a market at all. We have to ask the right questions and listen carefully.
The campaigners envisage building upon the success of Chatsworth Road Market Festival which has successfully run 60 stalls for one day a year for the last five years, with a great deal of support from local schools, community groups and residents.
To find out more about plans for a new weekly market on Chatsworth Road, and for details of how to express your views and get involved, visit: www.chatsworthroade5.co.uk