Ridley Road Shopping Village: Market owners working to STOP closure

Ridley Road Shopping Village in Dalston. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Ridley Road Shopping Village in Dalston. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel - Credit: Archant

The owners of Ridley Road Shopping Village are working to stop its closure, the Gazette can reveal.

Chris Notley outside his jewellers Raffles. Picture: Sam Gelder

Chris Notley outside his jewellers Raffles. Picture: Sam Gelder - Credit: Archant

Rainbow Properties, which bought the site two years ago and plans to redevelop it, has remained silent since more than 20 traders were given just two weeks’ notice to leave.

But on Thursday, 24 hours before the planned closure, director Guy Ziser told this newspaper the firm was looking to keep the market open “as a priority” – if it could.

Market manager George Albert also spoke to traders about the eviction for the first time, and said the lease could be taken over by Rainbow to allow it to stay open.

The Gazette understands Friday is the deadline for the installation of security measures police demanded in a Community Protection Notice (CPN) designed to stop anti-social behaviour. The market managers say they cannot afford the measures, so will hand over to Rainbow, which can – but that could take a few days.

Mohamed Barry at his stall in Ridley Road Shopping Village. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel

Mohamed Barry at his stall in Ridley Road Shopping Village. Picture: Ramzy Alwakeel - Credit: Archant

Mr Ziser said: “It’s a great market and we are sad the operator took the decision to close it now.

“Since that decision we’ve been contacted by the mayor of Hackney, Phil Glanville, and by traders themselves.

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“Up until now, we haven’t had any contact with the traders, but in the two years or more that we’ve owned this site, we’ve been keen for this market to operate and for the traders to prosper.

“We would have been happy to see the market stay open until sometime next year, and certainly until Christmas, but it was the market operators decision to close.

“This is a priority for us, and we’re going to talk to the mayor and the police and see whether anything can be done to reopen the market. “We can’t guarantee anything at this stage as there are factors outside our control which means the decision not does necessary rest wholly with us.

“We know it is a gem of a market, and we understand the hardship of local traders forced to close early.”

Mr Ziser also said he was speaking to the council about how to bring in small independent traders to “continue the spirit of the market” should redevelopment be approved.

A planning application currently being considered includes 10 luxury flats with retail space underneath. Traders – and the 60 plus artists in the studios upstairs – had already been told to leave on December 29 because of the redevelopment plans.

Managers sent out a letter on October 11 claiming they it had “no choice” but to close on Friday because police had slapped bosses with a “notice” after a drugs raid.

It stunned traders, who had stocked up for the vital Christmas trade.

It has since been confirmed cops had simply asked them to brush up on their security to tackle ongoing anti-social behaviour order. The CPN did not require closure, or threaten it.

Christine Notley, of Raffles Discount Jewellers, said Mr Albert told traders the market should be open next week as normal, on a four-week rolling lease.

“It sounds like good news,” she said. “Some people have already left and others have dismantled their stalls and would have liked to have known sooner rather than later, but it is good.”

Other traders on Thursday afternoon travelled to Rainbow’s West Hampstead office to hand in a petition against the closure – one of two being circulated, with the online campaign receiving more than 5,000 signatures.

Since the Gazette broke the story last week Mr Glanville has told the managers to stop the closure, referencing the lack of planning permission for the development.

Diane Abbott has also spoken out. The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington told the Gazette: “This is deeply worrying for the livelihoods of those traders and the community which use the shopping centre. Hopefully this can be resolved quickly.”

Mr Glanville hailed the reprieve as a “significant result” but said the details were still vague.

He said: “I will be meeting with the owners early next week to seek assurances that traders will be able to remain in the shopping village until at least the end of the year, as they were originally told.

“The run up to Christmas is a crucial time for traders, and I will do all I can to make sure they can benefit from this busy period.

“These local businesses are part of the beating heart of Dalston, and I back them and local campaigners fully. I will also be seeking assurances from the owners that there will be suitable space for similar businesses in their new development, which has yet to receive planning permission.”

The plans do appear to differ from the town hall’s own vision for the area, as detailed in a draft local plan published this week.

It states: “Development which would result in the permanent loss of markets or pitches will be refused unless appropriate comparable replacement provision is made.”

The closure would also affect traders on the outdoor market, who use the ground floor and basement of the building for storage.

Ridley Road Market traders’ association chair Larry Julian claims there’s “only a couple” of his members who use the building, but others estimate there are dozens in total.