The City of London has received the green light to relocate its three historic food markets to a purpose-built site at Dagenham Dock in east London.
Smithfield, Billingsgate and New Spitalfields markets will merge to form one of the UK and Europe’s biggest wholesale food market destinations under the plans, which will be submitted to Parliament later this year.
The new site in London’s Zone 5 region, earmarked to open in 2027, could generate as much as £2.9bn across the UK economy each year and support around 11,800 jobs.
The markets themselves are expected to create an estimated £1.4bn each year, with the rest generated across a UK-wide supply chain.
Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, said: “At a time when the wholesale food sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic, this outline planning approval will provide a welcome boost for the capital and the wider UK supply chain.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create one of Europe’s biggest wholesale market destinations, delivering thousands of new jobs and worth billions of pounds to the UK economy.”
The three London sites “have been at the heart of the UK food industry for centuries but they now face a series of pressing challenges, not least because the current facilities and trading environments are outdated and unsustainable,” the Corporation said in a statement.
The plans for Dagenham Dock will contain new facilities “that will help them adapt to modern standards in a location that offers room for them to efficiently accommodate and manage their businesses and continue to grow”.
The Corporation said it is also exploring the use of the River Thames for transporting produce to and from the Dagenham site.
Billingsgate market in Canary Wharf, formally established in 1699, is Britain’s largest inland fish market. When vacated, the market’s current site is expected to host a potential 1,500 new homes in the City.
Meanwhile, New Spitalfields wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Leyton will have the potential for around 1,200 homes.
Smithfield, the UK’s largest meat market, whose site in Farringdon dates back to the 10th century, is being considered as a cultural centre alongside the new Museum of London to be built at the adjacent site.