By Charlotte Lillywhite, Local Democracy Reporter
Traders at one of the oldest indoor markets in London fear they will struggle to survive if the venue’s back entrance is forced to shut early.
Tooting Market is appealing against a planning condition which requires it to shut its Totterdown Street entrance at 8pm instead of 10.30pm.
Wandsworth council allowed the market to extend in 2017 under the condition it would close at 8pm because people live close by.
The restriction was not enforced and the entrance has continued to stay open until 10.30pm, according to market management.
The market applied in 2021 to remove the condition so the entrance could remain open until 10.30pm and operate under “controlled secure access” until midnight so traders would have time to lock up at night.
But this was refused. The market has now launched an appeal to the planning inspector Baron Deschauer, manager of the market, who said disruption from large crowds gathering on the Totterdown forecourt after the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the Euros last summer was the “trigger” for the potential enforcement of the restriction.
The Totterdown entrance is “critical” for traders, he said, because food delivery riders use it to pick up orders.
The entrance also generates walk-in evening trade. “Unless we are able to stay open, we will lose the vast majority of our food traders because they rely on the evening trade to be able to stay open even during the day,” Mr Deschauer said.
“They make their money during the evenings – especially Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and so if they don’t make the money then they can’t provide the services at noon because we really say you have to be open from noon or 11am onwards.
“Ultimately the businesses will fail and the community will suffer by losing all these independent businesses.”
Will Hide, from We Brought Beer, is concerned about the potential impact of early closure on his bar.
“The evening trade on Saturday is what makes the difference between profit and loss,” he said. “With current trading conditions, I think we’d be in trouble.”
The market has around 70 traders. It is home to longstanding food traders, bars, a tailor, fabric shops, a nail salon and hairdressers.
It is also a space for community.
A Change.org petition to “save” the market’s evening trade has been signed by 1,748 people.
A Wandsworth council spokesman said: “The market recently sought permission to vary the 2017 planning consent and extend the hours of operation to midnight seven-days-a-week, which was refused due to its close proximity to residential properties and the concern this would have an unacceptable impact on neighbours through noise and disturbance.
“We understand the market is now in the process of making an appeal against that decision to the Planning Inspectorate.”
Pictured top: People walk past Tooting market on May 19 (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)