The City of London has approved plans to move both the Billingsgate and Smithfield markets to a site it owns in Dagenham.
The City has been looking for a new home for its three major markets for some years, and in 2018 bought a huge plot of land next to Dagenham Dock currently occupied by a power station, in a preemptive strike to stop other bidders getting their hands on the land.
New Spitalfields (fruit, veg & flowers) moved to Leyton in 1991, while Billingsgate (fish) moved to the Canary Wharf area in 1982 — only Smithfield (meat and poultry) remains in its 800 year old home.
In 2019, the City approved plans to consolidate and relocate three historic wholesale food markets, Smithfield Market, Billingsgate Market and New Spitalfields Market — at the new site in Dagenham. However, the plans have changed, and now just Billingsgate and Smithfield wholesale markets will move to Dagenham, while New Spitalfields market will remain in Leyton, although the City still aims to move it to Dagenham eventually.
London’s wholesale markets, and many others across the country, are governed by legislation which means they can only be moved to a new location with consent from Parliament. The City will deposit a Private Bill with Parliament on 29th November that will then seek Parliament’s permission to move the market.
The new market at Dagenham Dock is expected to open between 2027-2028.
There had also been a lot of local opposition to the move from the Smithfield meat traders, but they’ve now accepted the deal to move to Dagenham.
The City of London says that it will invest nearly one billion pounds directly into Barking and Dagenham to regenerate 42 acres of industrial land into a wholesale food market, bringing around 2,700 new jobs to Barking and Dagenham and supporting 7,850 jobs across the UK – an expected increase of 17% on the jobs supported by Billingsgate and Smithfield currently.
Apart from being right next to the A13 for wholesalers, it’s also a short walk from Dagenham Dock station for people wanting to visit the site.
Once the markets have moved, Smithfield Market has been earmarked to be converted into a cultural hub to sit next to the relocated London Museum. The land at Canary Wharf that will be unlocked by relocating Billingsgate could provide around 2,000 new homes and other social infrastructure.