7th May 2009: FoQM write to Mayor of London and the GLA
Below is the letter FoQM sent to London Mayor Boris Johnson asking for him to reject the application.
believe that the proposed development would be detrimental to the people of
Newham and a threat to Queen’s Market itself.
It will have
significant negative impacts and falls very short in providing for local needs.
These include: the provision of affordable healthy food; local employment and
enterprise; affordable social housing and active play space for children; an
attractive, healthy environment for Upton Park; the reduction in traffic and
CO2 emissions; the prevention of anti-social behaviour.
Council’s report confirms a list of negative impacts (housing mix, open space,
loss of light, health, education, wind, noise, air quality, transport, parking)
but chooses to brush them aside.
Your Stage 1
report stated that the development is not compliant with the London Plan. Even
if minor changes have been made since then, we believe that the scheme overall
does not comply with the spirit of the London Plan which aims to improve the
quality of life for everyone and give extra help to disadvantaged Londoners.
From our own
and independent research we have found that a viable alternative proposal to
improve and renovate the current market is wanted and welcomed by the majority
of people in the area. However, the current proposal will prevent the creation
of any alternative scheme.
Council, in its unwavering support of the development under Mayor Robin Wales,
has been unwilling to listen to the concerns of thousands of local people - and
we hope that you will do so.
of Queen’s Market
Queen’s Market has worked together to represent the views of hundreds of people
over a six year period since St. Modwen Properties showed an interest in the
site of the 110-year-old street market. During this time 12,000 signed a
petition against the developer’s involvement on the site: the petition was
handed to the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.
200 people marched down Green Street to protest against the Council /
developers plans for the market and 2,600 letters of objection have been sent
in the past year. Newham has never seen this scale of objections to a planning
proposal, showing the strength of feeling it has caused.
that there have been minor changes to the development and some revised plans,
but we do not think that these cancel out the overall unsuitability of the
Queen’s Market was runner-up in the BBCRadio Four Food & Farming Award
for best food market in the UK. The judges looked for ‘excellent produce’ and
‘making a difference to the local community’ and described the market as the
‘throbbing bustling hub of a truly multi-ethnic area’.
As you saw
on your visit, Queen’s Market is very successful and provides a specific vital
service selling affordable healthy food, as well as other goods, to a poor
community. Both Newham Council’s Equalities Impact Assessment and the New
Economics Foundation study (‘The World on a Plate’ 2006) acknowledge that
affordable prices for the shopper are predicated on the current sustainable rent levels for stallholders.
Market also provides a recognised and important social space open to all, where
diverse communities come together. Community cohesion is the heart of
traditional street markets and in a borough with the kind of demographics of
Newham this is vital and fragile resource. The importance of this should not be
Modwen has no statutory duty to continue operating the market in this way and
we do not see how their plans show due concern for retaining the special
character of the current market, or due regard for the site itself.
respect the development would be contrary to PPS6 which requires local
authorities to retain and enhance existing markets - surely not just in name,
but by supporting and enabling the traders who make up these markets.
rent is key to the current market’s success. We question St Modwen’s promise to
freeze stallholders’ rent for five years at the time the market closes: without
a specific figure the freeze guarantee is meaningless. Rents could rise from
now on, as they have been doing. Shop owners have in fact received letters from
St. Modwen asking for a 100%+ increase in rents.
five year period, rents could, and from evidence of other countrywide markets
will, rise to unmanageable levels for the current traders.
We note that
service charges will be imposed and not frozen. These charges will be to RICS
standards and ‘transparent’ but that guarantee again gives no reassurance of
sustainable charges that enable the current traders to keep going.
costs will fall on the heads of local families, feeding large families on some
of the lowest wages in London.
arrangements for the market
We are very
concerned that the temporary arrangements are not viable and will result in a
serious loss of traders, immediately damaging the market before it re-opens.
The temporary period would last three
years (Council report 7.6).
reduce from 150 to 116, and nearly all shop spaces will not be temporarily
relocated. Only 44 traders’ car parking spaces will be provided. So we are concerned
that overall there are not enough temporary places for stallholders and
traders, their cars and vans and the safe storage of goods.
Half of the
temporary stalls would be put out along the main high street, Green Street, a
less practical space by far and not conducive to social gathering. Note that
this is also the football crowd’s route from Upton Park tube to West Ham
supplement the scant information about the temporary arrangements with our
notes from a conversation at the GLA on September 8th between Jenny
Jones, Nick Kay of St Modwen, Saif Osmani and Pauline Rowe of FoQM and others:
St Modwen states that some
stallholders wish to take a “sabbatical”, however this seems unlikely and
unwise in the current climate. We are concerned that the reduction is beginning
already with vacant pitches not being filled.
We were told that shop owners
will trade as stallholders in the temporary market. This would increase the
pressure on stallholders’ places and is not viable for many of the shops, eg
hairdressers and beauty parlours, causing their demise.
We were told that there will be
no safe storage space and that goods will have to be transported daily, with
safe storage in traders’ vehicles. Only 44 parking spaces have been allocated
to all traders and this potentially further reduces the number of stalls and
The temporary market will trade
on two sites, one of which is invisible from the road. We understand that
traders classified as ‘wholesale’ will be on the off-road site and that
‘wholesale’ refers to all the greengrocery stalls. (The term ‘wholesale’ is
incorrect: Queen’s Market is not a wholesale market but a retail market where
shoppers often buy in bulk, often for community celebrations and because it
We believe that if the majority
of greengrocery stalls are located together on this site and their number
reduced it will deal a blow to the core of the market, reducing choice and the
vast variety on offer and will endanger the supply of healthy, affordable food.
The threat to shops
markets, the shops and the stalls in Queen’s Market are linked and provide a
combined service. With shop rents already rising and the lack of provision for
them in the temporary market, the plans directly threaten the existing network
of 49 shops and 18 shop kiosks.
this threat to local small and medium enterprises is inexcusable and against
all policy directives for economic development.
acknowledged that the quota of affordable and socially rented housing (16%)
falls far short of requirements in spite of Newham’s high level of overcrowding
and housing need. We would also like to point out the proposed demolition of 6
social rented houses on Tolpuddle Avenue, resulting in the provision of 27 not
33 new social rented homes in a total of 350 units.
development continues the familiar over-provision of small 1-bed and 2-bed
units – 89% of the total! This will not foster a long-term, balanced community
and such developments already lie empty across East London.
of the development
31-storey tower and two 15-storey tower blocks are higher than anything nearby
and the tower is taller so far than anything in Newham. Yet Upton Park is a
low-rise residential area of family housing in Victorian and Georgian streets.
With its overbearing scale the design returns to 1960’s-style models of housing
and we do not consider it will improve prospects for the area, as claimed.
Rather, it will bring familiar problems with it.
We feel the
overall architectural language is contrary to the creation of high-quality
permeable space. Unlike 1960’s blocks these towers do not have open spaces at
their core, at ground level, but are hard up against a local high street and
dense residential streets. The featureless buildings will change, dominate and
overshadow the townscape and neighbourhood. We agree with CABE’s criticisms of
the ‘bulky and overbearing’ appearance.
architecture in no way celebrates the character, tradition and ethnicity of the
market and does not create a feeling of community and ownership around the
site. The historic market is buried inside the development, changing its status
as the area’s key destination. The block has no identification as a traditional
London street market or ‘market hall’ as described. We strongly disagree that
the 31-storey tower is an appropriate ‘landmark for the market’.
NB We agree
that the design and appearance of the current market should certainly be
improved in this regard.
space and active play space
does not have nearly enough adequate play space for children or a consideration
of their needs in the area. ‘Active’ play space is needed for the projected
number of children of all ages, rather than open areas to loiter in.
landscaped areas have been put on the roof of the market at third floor level,
surrounded by the very large-scale towers, with very small pockets of
designated play space. The play area falls within walkways of the users and
playing equipment is not indicated.
Council’s report confirms wind funelling effects and the potential difficulty
of rooting large trees (protection from wind) on the third floor roof.
space created at ground level around the market is meagre and leaves room for
dead areas or ‘negative spaces’ that could encourage anti-social behaviour when
the market is closed.
currently four trees, a bike parking area and outdoor communal seating area
outside the elderly people’s housing block Hamara Ghar. This small yet much
used ‘civic’ space and trees will disappear, redesignated for temporary stalls.
Its accessibility is important for the residents of the old people’s home:
walking up large ramps to greenery at third floor level is inappropriate and
inconsiderate to the existing users.
We see that
nearby Priory Park is meant to provide the green space for the development. The
small park is already well used locally and is no substitute for direct access
to green space and civic space for the 1000+ new residents of the high density development.
emissions and traffic
As the GLA
report states, the scheme does not go far enough with responsible ‘green’
design. It also unaccountably doubles car parking space, from 150 to 308 cars,
which will add to Green Street’s congestion and pollution. This will not make
the area a more pleasant place to live. The development does not alleviate
Green Street of the traffic problems which continue to make shoppers stay away
during peak shopping times of the week.
106 and benefits to Newham
benefits’ have driven the Council to approve the scheme, but regeneration means
different things to different people. We fear that the local community is at
risk of being priced out of this urban regeneration project.
Council has accepted St Modwen’s claim that it cannot afford to pay the
required S106 contributions or provide sufficient affordable housing (its total
contributions towards health care and education would be £100,000). However, we
do not believe that the developer’s financial interests should come before
those of the already disadvantaged local community, especially when the scheme
itself would have so many negative impacts on health, economy and wellbeing.
If the developers cannot build a beneficial
scheme which also incorporates sufficient financial contributions then it must
be unsustainable and should be completely re-thought.
we ask that you use your powers to refuse this planning permission, in support
of the local community in Upton Park and all those who use and benefit from the
unique Queen’s Market. We believe there is ample evidence that this scheme is
not the right solution to improving the fortunes of the area for everyone.
create the opportunity for a widely-supported, viable and beneficial
improvement scheme and remove the present uncertainty about the future of the
market, allowing traders get on with their job. We believe this would be in the
public interest as well as the right thing to do in this financial climate.
You would help
to retain the historic Queen’s Market, a key destination in the East End and a
necessary part of London and its people’s identity as a whole.