Yesterday was some of the most welcome news for market traders in a long while.

Five years ago Greenwich Hospital Estates – a semi-charity overseen by the MOD, which owns most of the land in the centre of Greenwich – announced plans to redevelop the market. The plan consisted of replacing the original floor, adding a modern plastic roof, rebuilding most of the postwar buildings and replacing some of them with a boutique hotel, and bulldozing period buildings, including Edwardian stables and a banana warehouse on Durnford Street.

Council officers recommended the plans, which were supported by Greenwich MP Nick Raynsford – a spokesman for the building industry who banks tens of thousands in consultancy fees from the industry each year. A council committee threw out the plans, then against wide public opposition GHE took the a modified version of the scheme to appeal, this time retaining the cobbled floor and Edwardian market roof.

Ultimately the government inspector, Phil Asquith, upheld GHE’s appeal. It was this modified scheme, based around a boutique hotel which would, according to its proposed operators, use the cobbled floor as an al fresco dining area.

On Thursday night, GHE announced to Greenwich traders that they were dropping the scheme, and planned only to refurbish the floor and roof, together with some smaller-scale building plans. This is a huge reprieve for traders, who would otherwise have been moved to a temporary site for two years; it’s also important for preserving the eclectic architectural ambience of Greenwich, for the Edwardian market buildings, including the stables and banana warehouse, date from when traders brought their goods in by boat and horsedrawn transport.

It’s likely that the main factor in dropping the scheme is a new surfeit of hotels in Greenwich, with huge new hotels from Mercure and Premier Inn opened recently, plus the extension of the Hotel Ibis. Economics triumphed where the planning system failed. This is great news for all market traders, and anyone who loves Greenwich Market. More news on this when we hear it.

 

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