Kingston Council reaches out to public for Ancient Marketplace revitalisation

Kingston council has called for residents, local businesses, and visitors to give their opinion on the changes they would like to see for the Ancient Marketplace.  

The Council recently announced plans to revitalise the marketplace and make long-term use of the Grade II-listed Market House, the historic building that has been mostly vacant for a decade.  

“It is much loved and hugely popular, and conversations with a range of people and communities who use the market place have highlighted there is appetite for making even more of this treasured space,” said Councillor Alison Holt, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Leisure.  

Plans include holding more events in the marketplace, increasing the number of stalls, and using the area in the evenings.  

“The marketplace could help us with our nighttime economy. There could be more diversity, there could be more events and in our strategy, we have even more ideas of how we could use this lovely space,” said councillor Andreas Kirsch, leader of the council.  

Kirsch said there is potential for the marketplace to come under “long-term management” rather than annually renewing the lease for Kingston First to maintain market and house.  

“Bringing together the street market, Market House and surrounding public realm under one strategy to be delivered by one operator will bring huge benefits for residents, local businesses and visitors,” said Holt.  

The Ancient Marketplace is one of London’s oldest street markets and was first recorded in 1242. 

Nowadays, there are 28 permanent stalls in the marketplace that range from fishmongers, to street-food vendors, to artisan bakeries.  

“We all recognised that the Ancient Marketplace is the beating heart of Kingston Town Centre,” said Councillor Noel Hadjimichael, co-Chair of Kingston’s Corporate and Resources Committee. 

However, the improvement of the town centre is not just a matter of better utilising the area but upgrading outdated equipment.  

Councillor Rowena Bass said the infrastructure of the marketplace also needs updating as well as the running of the area, as the wooden stalls vendors use are “starting to show their age”. 

Bass is not the only one to express concerns about the dated wooden structures.  

Tim Meads’ family business, Webster’s Fishmongers, has operated in Kingston since 1856, and Meads has traded at the market place for 41 years. 

“None of the doors are treated or made for outdoor weather so they’re always leaking and then the rent is a fortune,” said Meads.  

Meads and other vendors said that the market place needs drastic improvement in the way it is currently run.  

Phoebe from Oliver’s Bakery has worked in the marketplace for a decade and said the stalls were “not fit for purpose”. 

“The stuff that we’ve done inside ours has been financed by the company, the council doesn’t maintain them at all. They’re just in terrible condition and too small and dirty,” said Phoebe. 

With £1.2 million budgeted for the revitalisation of the marketplace, Kirsch said that the council will not ignore that the stalls are “dated”.  

Kirsch said there may be potential “investment” down the line but refurbishment would ultimately be up to the future operator of the marketplace and house.  

Both Meads and Phoebe said that not enough is done to attract people to the market through community events.  

“They do a lot of events but they don’t advertise anything. I’m surprised when I found stuff that’s going on tomorrow in Kingston marketplace, which is shocking when I live here as well,” said Phoebe.  

Yesterday, the council announced that representatives of the council will be in the market place on the 11 and 30 April to discuss with the public the changes they would like to see.  

You can also email them with your ideas at  

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Reporter and former editor for the Kingston Courier.

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