In London gentrification news, Dalston’s Ridley Road Market Shopping Village is due for eviction tomorrow. Shopping Village is an indoor part of the historic, funded in 1880s, market. The market consists of 180 stalls, and while some are currently empty, the space provides a vital low-cost shopping to the locals. Many stalls cater to Hackney’s BME population. Some families have been trading at Ridley Road for 120 years. The recent eviction news come after, at the end of 2015, Hackney Council announced its plans to increase the stallholders’ fees.
The site of the Shopping Village, together with the rest of the market, is a planned redevelopment area, namely it is due to be converted into upmarket shopping spots and some, likely unaffordable, flats for a good measure. Whilst the project is yet to be granted a planning permission from the Hackney Council, the traders from the Shopping Village were informed they will have to leave by the end of this year. This news, however devastating, also meant that the traders will not miss out on Christmas shopping period, which, for some, amounts to about 50% of yearly revenue.
However, in mid-October, the police raided the market and found drugs, cash and knives at one unit. The raid and its findings prompted the cops to issue community protection order (CPO) and force all 20 traders from all units to move within couple of weeks: that is, by tomorrow. Some of the forcibly moved traders have been using the Shopping Village for decades.
It wasn’t the first time when the Met was harassing Ridley Road traders. In September, the police raided a number of open air stalls in search of drugs. They targeted stalls “suspected of being involved in the supply of drugs”. Though they found nothing, still, the police claimed that the drug supply in the area “will have been disrupted”.
The cops’ claim that the market has been a hot spot for drug dealing and antisocial behaviour is denied by the traders.
As for tomorrow’s eviction, while some traders left already, the others decided to start a campaign to protect their work places. At their petition page, they write: “Ridley Road is the beating heart of Hackney, and yet the loss of the Shopping Village will be the beginning of the end. The traders of the Shopping Village have given decades of their lives to help keep the market running. And now they are being thrown out into the street. (…) This is a turning point for Ridley Road and for Hackney as a whole. The decision to close the Shopping Village is a choice. The landlord can choose not to evict. The council can choose not to grant planning permission for re-development. The police can choose not to enforce the Protection Notice. If the evictions do go ahead, then all of the above are directly responsible.”
According to London Renters Union, on Thursday evening the traders had been given an assurance that the planned eviction will not be carried on. The statement from LRT reads:
Today [Thusday] traders from Ridley Road Shopping Village in Dalston visited the office of Rainbow Properties, the management company representing the landlord of the building.
With support from the London Renters Union, the traders handed in a letter demanding that their planned eviction from the market be stopped immediately. The letter made clear that the responsibility for the planned evictions of over 20 traders from the market lies with the building management and the landlord.
Following the traders’ visit to their offices, the management company have made assurances that they no longer plan to carry out the planned evictions of traders, many of which have been at Ridley Road for years.
The traders took action after the council and police stated in writing that they have no intention of closing the Shopping Village or evicting traders and that the landlord’s decision to evict tenants at short notice was not a requirement of the Community Protection Notice served by Dalston Police, as they had been claiming.
Planning permission has yet to be granted for the conversion of the market building into luxury flats. If the council chooses to allow the redevelopment of the site, it won’t be long before the rest of the market is disrupted. The Council should be working hard to ensure the legacy of such an important part of the Hackney community.
There is a demonstration in solidarity with the traders planned for Saturday 27th October at 1pm.
You can find the Shopping Village traders’ petition here.
Photo: a shop at Ridley Road