London Christmas lights

The Assembly Line annual round up

2019 has been a busy year at the Assembly Line. We have worked on a number of interesting and diverse projects and we are now planning ahead for 2020.

We have capacity for new projects from March onwards. If you would like to collaborate on a high street project involving business engagement, retail, local economies, street markets or place marketing, please feel free to get in touch.

Here’s a recap of what we have been working on in 2019.

Developing a market strategy via public consultation

Westminster Council Street Markets StrategyThis year we worked with Westminster City Council to manage a public consultation on their six street markets. Over 18 months we were part of the wider team ensuring communications, licensing, legal and cabinet members were briefed on developments and gaining approval to proceed at each stage.

Results included: 800+ survey responses received during the public consultation, the creation of two temporary full-time positions, revitalisation of a market under pressure from building works and the resulting strategy and plans were approved by the licensing committee. It’s great to see the recommendations now becoming live projects with the UK’s first reusable lunchbox scheme launched at Tachbook Street, in a bid to help support traders reducing waste. You can read more about the project here


Town centre review

We’ve been working with Redbridge Council in east London for several years now on projects focused on routes to employment, markets, and Ilford town centre.

Ilford is the recipient of £1.8m in funding from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund and there are lots of good things happening with The Spark development. The town centre is also undergoing public realm works in 2020. In preparation for this, we led a town centre and market review to recommend how it could be used during and after public realm improvements and regeneration projects.

The project concluded with recommendations for how the town centre could be used in the future and a proposal to change the legislation under which the street market was operated. We drafted the cabinet briefing papers and new policies to support the change.

Walworth Road Economic Vision

This year, we were tasked with developing a medium-term economic vision for a London high street for the period during and after the redevelopment of the town centre which involves extensive, long-term regeneration projects.

We spent a great deal of time on the street, talking to businesses via formal engagement, laying the groundwork for a business forum and undertaking a health check of the local economy alongside a BID feasibility study.

We’re at the reporting stage and are excited to continue this work and measure the overall results in the new year.

Understanding the evening economy

Following the Major of London funding, we’ve been working with businesses in London’s first Night Time Enterprise Zone in Walthamstow.

We led the business engagement strand of a project that includes community engagement, a town centre arts event and is linked to architects working on the market and public realm.

The engagement is to build an understanding of the night-time economy and the support businesses might need to make more of it or the interventions that the council can deliver to improve it.

As this work continues we’re looking forward to seeing what this pilot can deliver both at a local level and learnings for other parts of London.

Institute of Place Management

This year, our Director, Diane Cunningham started an MSc course in Place Management and Leadership with the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University.

As a result of being in Manchester regularly, Diane has been developing relationships across the northwest. It’s been great to hear more about the interesting projects being developed outside the southeast, particularly around Liverpool and Manchester and we’re looking forward to bringing some projects to life there next year.

Future of Barking Town Centre Group

Barking town centre is only 15 minutes from central London by train and with a vast amount of space and the lowest property and land value prices in the capital, there is a real opportunity to try new things here.

The group was convened by Be First, Barking and Dagenham’s urban regeneration company and chaired by Arup, to develop a clear vision of the role and function of Barking Town Centre over the next 10 years.

We’re looking forward to seeing the final report.

London Markets Board

We were appointed to the London Markets Board two years ago. It’s the capital’s first first-ever Markets Board, designed to ensure that markets continue to flourish, support growth in high streets and town centres, and remain vibrant attractions for all Londoners and visitors to the capital.

A highlight of this year was our involvement with the International Markets Conference held in London in June 2019. It was great to hear about markets from all over the world and meet the people involved with them.

The conference report is on the PPS website and there is a great video capturing the diversity of London’s markets.

The London Society

In the summer we became a trustee of the London Society having discovered them through a High Street Talks series.

It’s a really interesting Society looking at both the past and future of London from planning and building an environmental standpoint.

We’re looking forward to being more involved. Find out more about the society and their events programme on their website.

The changing high street presentation

In November, Hawkins Brown, an international practice of architects, interior designers, urban designers, and researchers invited The Assembly Line in, to talk about ‘The changing high street and markets’ role in them’.

The presentation and Q&A, provided a whistle-stop tour of changes impacting the high street as the retail sector undergoes huge change, the history of markets looking at them in all their guises and how the combination of high streets and markets can work together to create stronger places, that stand out, build more resilient places and offer something of interest to attract customers.