City of London Corporation Wholesale Markets

Closes 6 Aug 2019

Why Co-locate the Markets?

The City Corporation are committed to running the wholesale markets and are proud of the role the markets play in providing food for London and serving  communities across London and the South East.

While the three wholesale markets have served London for hundreds of years, we now need to make changes, so the markets can continue to meet customer expectations and remain competitive within a diverse London food supply chain. 

Today, the City Corporation has an opportunity to bring all three markets together onto a single site to serve customers with the most extensive and diverse range of food wholesale produce available in the UK. The use of a single site and new facilities will also enable us to respond to climate change through the introduction of improved and sustainable logistics and to provide buildings that minimise carbon emissions. We will also look to work with the market tenants to respond to the challenges of climate change inherent in the food supply chain and to deliver progressively sustainable food to our communities.

Images of diverse food found at the markets


The three wholesale markets have served London well, but the market buildings are not best placed to serve London into the future.

The buildings at all three markets comply with food regulations and hygiene standards, but our ability to retrofit the buildings with the latest technology and innovations to safeguard the quality of food and reduce carbon emissions is limited.

In order to create a modern wholesale market that continues to operate to the highest standards and makes effective use of new technologies, it makes sense to  bring all three markets together and develop a new ‘fit for the future’ market.

The new site will be designed with the tenants to reflect their needs today and to provide an improved operational environment. However the design will need to be flexible enough to respond to the requirements of tomorrow and we will work with industry experts to ensure that we make the most of the latest developments in sustainable technologies in design and logistics.

Congestion and air quality

Traffic congestion and air quality are a major problem in London. Led by the Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority wants to reduce the amount of traffic coming into London and encourage a switch to cleaner, greener vehicles.

To tackle the problem of congestion and air quality, the City of London Corporation and the Greater London Authority are working together to reduce the number of vehicles coming into London, which is expected to have significant benefits for London’s air quality.

In April 2019, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was introduced by the Mayor of London and, in 2021, this will expand to encompass all parts of London that lie within the North and South Circular Roads. The ULEZ imposes charges on the most polluting vehicles entering the zone and is intended to encourage drivers to switch to less polluting vehicles. 

The markets are busy trading environments and during market hours thousands of vehicles come and go from the three sites. In 2021 the ULEZ will encompass all three existing markets and the most polluting vehicles could be charged up to £100 per day. 

A new market site in Dagenham would be outside of the expanded ULEZ. However, we will still encourage market tenants, their customers and other market visitors to use greener more sustainable forms of transport and will hope to contribute our own consolidated freight solutions to minimise traffic further

The City Corporation wants to be an innovator, when it comes to making the markets as sustainable as possible. To do this, we will be looking closely at using the river and rail network for transporting produce to and from the market. This should help reduce traffic congestion and play a role in improving London’s air quality.

Room for growth

New Spitalfields Market, boxes stacked up high

Our markets are thriving but opportunities for growth on the current sites are limited.

Providing the space for tenants to expand is a key driver for developing a new market site.

A larger trading environment will provide the opportunity for tenants to increase their selling space, expand their offering, and store produce on-site. This is something which cannot easily be achieved at the existing markets.

The current market sites offer little opportunity to physically expand the buildings as they are constrained by the surrounding developments.

Wider development

Smithfield Market 

Ariel view of Smithfield Market buildings

The 150+ year-old, Grade II* East and West buildings and the Grade II Poultry Market are the home of Smithfield Market and located in the heart of London. While the market has always been here, the surrounding area has developed significantly over the last few years due to the development of the Elizabeth line. Currently there are significant pressures created around the site due to a mix of vehicles and pedestrians and some of our neighbours are becoming increasingly anxious about these issues.

In the mid 2020s the Museum of London will relocate to West Smithfield, including the derelict General Market, from their current location in the London Wall.  Along with the forthcoming arrival of the Elizabeth line it is expected that this area of London will become significantly busier. 

Smithfield Market is located in central London and the smooth running of the market can be impacted by traffic congestion. The recently established Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) increases the costs of doing business in Smithfield Market.

Museum of London - West Smithfield

This summer the Museum of London will launch a public consultation on their relocation to the General Market, Annex and elements of the Poultry Market in West Smithfield.

Please visit the Museum of Londons website for further information 

Billingsgate Market

A view of Billingsgate Market sign with Canary Wharf in the background

Billingsgate Market moved to Canary Wharf in the 1980s after relocating from Lower Thames Street. Since then Canary Wharf has grown and developed into a large business and commercial centre, yet the market has remained unchanged. 

The fish market is keen to expand, but the existing site is not large enough to accommodate this growth and expanding onto new land is difficult as the site borders the busy Aspen Way and the already developed Canary Wharf.

In addition, the Greater London Authority and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets believe the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar have significant demand for new housing and commercial developments.

New Spitalfields Market 

New Spitalfields Market building

New Spitalfields moved to Leyton in the 1990s and is the newest site. While the tenants at New Spitalfields want to grow their business, the site is too small for all three markets and expansion is constrained by the Olympic Park, rail infrastructure and by Hackney Marshes, which is leisure space and protected from development.

To provide the room to grow, a new market site is the best option, designed with the tenants to reflect the needs of each market while allowing room for future growth.

Existing Sites - Supplementary Information

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Better together

Locating all three markets together would have a number of benefits for customers, suppliers and tenants and for London as a whole.


  • In one visit, customers could purchase meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers
  • Making one trip instead of several would reduce business costs and travel time
  • Customers will benefit from a consolidated delivery service


  • Providing an opportunity to consolidate deliveries, avoid ULEZ and to use alternative methods of transport
  • Offering a better ‘fit for purpose’ managed access and parking to cut down on delays and congestion

Market tenants:

  • A consolidated market would offer the widest, most diverse range of products and be a ‘one stop shop’ for food products
  • The new market would offer a flexible trading environment and showcase the best in sustainability and efficiency, helping keep operating costs down
  • A new market would be built on a larger scale, so tenants would have more trading and storage space
  • Other businesses, such as food manufacturers and distributors, would be encouraged to locate near the new site, improving the attractiveness of the market to customers

For London:

  • All three markets located together would reduce the amount of vehicle movements, reducing congestion in London and improving air quality
  • At Barking Reach in Dagenham, there is potential to make use of the River Thames and /or rail for transporting produce, reducing the reliance on the congested road network
  • The Wholesale Market would continue to support London’s thriving street food and retail markets and communities providing diversity in food supply to support resilience and choice