One of my favorite London places is under terrible threat. Borough Market, London’s historical and contemporary market for great food seems slated to be gutted by the Thameslink rail development.
The Borough Market
Borough Market is one of London's oldest wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, established by Act of Parliament in 1756. It covers an area of 4.5 acres.
The market opens in the early hours of the morning and keeps running through the day. Known in its heyday as London's Larder, the capital relied on Borough Market for its essential supplies.
Today it is both a major tourist destination and the best place to buy British and imported delicacies. Regardless of the time of year, a Saturday morning brunch here is a great experience.
If you wish to save the market, join the many thousands of others who have already signed the online petition to save Borough Market.
The Thameslink threat
Planning approval for the Thameslink rebuild project was granted in mid-October 2006.
Locally the scheme would deliver brand new stations at London Bridge and Blackfriars, and open up new travel links to destinations north and south.
Blackfriars would become the first London station to span the river Thames while London Bridge would be completely rebuilt and modernised with capacity for an extra 60,000 people during the peak travel time.
A key element of the scheme - formerly known as Thameslink 2000 - is the expansion of capacity on the western approach to London Bridge station, a notorious rail bottleneck. Residents and businesses in Borough Market have long campaigned against the Thameslink scheme because of the impact it would have on the historic character of the area.
The detail of the Thameslink project around Borough Market and Blackfriars - where the scheme proposes to extend the station right across the river with an entrance on Bankside - was the subject of a public inquiry in 2005, where campaigners proposed that the line should be re-routed via Elephant & Castle.
The problem is essentially that the current plans will mean demolishing a number of historic buildings in the market area. Together with a new rail bridge over the market, the “wholesale market may now be at risk. The Dickensian character of the Borough may now be lost. And all the time another and better route could have been chosen” says Simon Hughes MP.
Routing via Elephant and Castle would eliminate this while preserving the scheme’s transport benefits.
The future of the £3.5 billion project now rests on a funding decision. Network Rail says that it will work with the Department for Transport to put together a financial package.
"Since no funding for the scheme is yet in place, we will be working with Network Rail to try to mitigate the worst effects of the plan as it stands," says Southwark council leader Nick Stanton.
As it stands, the following parts of the Borough Market are lined up for destruction:
- Twenty-listed building including 16-26 Borough High Street
- Green Dragon Court
- Part of the market roof structures
Background to the campaign
After the 1987 British Rail proposal to rebuild the Thameslink were presented, a campaign was started by local residents to build awareness of the project’s impact. This campaign has been up against the £100m invested in promoting this scheme from Network Rail. More on the difficulties on the Save the Borough Market Area Campaign website.
Sign the online petition to save Borough Market!
- Save the Borough Market Area Campaign
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