Five year strategy for London’s oldest markets

London Borough of Tower Hamlets Markets Improvement Plan 2022 – 2027

The council commissioned their first Markets Strategy to determine the long-term vision for their 10 markets including Brick Lane, Columbia Road Flower Market and Petticoat Lane.


The borough operates some of the oldest and internationally renowned street markets in London across 10 locations, 1,300 pitches and more than 20 streets. It has more market days than any other London Borough, managing 48 markets across seven days.

  • Review national, regional and council policy on high streets, markets and Covid-19 recovery in the context of developing the strategy
  • Analyse the borough-wide business model used to manage markets (including the legal framework) with recommendations for improving income generation
  • Devise and manage a public consultation to include surveys, drop-ins and interviews with key stakeholders. Create a communications programme to ensure a wide reach
  • Benchmark the borough’s markets against others in London
  • Recommend what performance monitoring data should be collected
  • Create a vision with recommendations to form a business case for improvements to Whitechapel Market that align with the Whitechapel Road Improvement Programme
  • Produce an overarching strategy for the borough’s markets and individual actions plans for each market taking into account their social, economic and cultural value
  • Engage and brief key stakeholders within the council throughout the duration of the project


The strategy addresses changing shopping habits, work patterns and the impact of the pandemic on market traders and small businesses in how the markets need to adapt over the next five years. It considers public realm changes and large scale developments that will impact high streets and markets, especially Whitechapel, in the short to medium term while acknowledging the funding secured to deliver change.


  • A public consultation generated more than 1000 responses on individual markets from visitors, market traders and businesses Tower Hamlets Markets Improvement Plan
  • 10 themes were identified which impacted all markets and shaped the strategy
  • An enhanced action plan was created for Whitechapel Market in support of a regeneration framework, secured funding and a focus on the high street becoming the borough’s town centre with the relocation of the town hall
  • Seven action plans were created to support the strategy at a local, market level
  • Recommendations made for operational and management changes including resourcing
  • Stakeholders briefed throughout via one-to-one meetings, presentations to Whitechapel Project Team, directorate-level meetings and cabinet member briefings.

The strategy and accompanying action plans were approved by cabinet in March 2022 and can be accessed on the council’s website here.

I worked with The Assembly Line to develop the borough’s first stand-alone strategy for its 10 street markets. The strategy proposed a vision for our markets and priorities for the next five years to ensure they can adapt, where needed, and remain strong into the future. I really enjoyed working with Diane and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her.

Adam Richards, Senior Manager, High Streets Team, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

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Engagement, High streets, Markets, Retail