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Opinion sharply divided on application for monthly event

Richard Johnson pitching his street food concept to the Dragons. Picture: BBC


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August 16, 2023

A report to be presented to the borough Licensing Panel has shown that there is a sharp division across Chiswick about a renewed bid to set up a monthly Street Food market.

Nearly 100 comments have been received on the application which is believed to be one of the largest ever responses to a licensing application in the borough.

Bedford Park based food writer and entrepreneur Richard Johnson is making another attempt to get a licence to hold the market on the fourth Sunday of every month in car park area in front of the former police station. Over 50 stalls would be set up selling cuisine from across the world.

The previous bid failed due to issues with documentation, but Mr Johnson has expressed confidence that the licence will be granted at the meeting which is due to take place on 22 August.

The majority of people commenting on the application supported his bid with many saying that the market would enhance the area boosting footfall which would benefit all local shops including hospitality businesses.

However, opponents of the application say the relative number of responses is not key as many of the respondents in favour have just expressed support without detailing reasons and the more substantive comments have come from people who don’t want the licence to be granted. Generally, people against the proposal have said it would be unfair on existing local restaurants, given the low cost of the licence, would cause a significant litter problem and that Mr Johnson doesn’t have the necessary experience to manage such an event.

One objector said, “in my opinion (having traded from my premises for the last 29 years) it will draw customers away from all the restaurants and food shops who are paying huge amounts of rent and rates to trade here. On top of discouraging customers from eating/buying food from the local shops the pitches are erected IN FRONT of all these premises thus obscuring their shop fronts and making them hugely less visible to visitors to Chiswick.”

The local residents’ association, the Mid Chiswick Society, which represents people living in Elliott Road, Windmill Road, Chardin Road, Chiswick Common Road, Fishers Lane and Bond Street is also opposed. It says “The Market is very close to us. People who purchase items in the market will park in our streets or they will come to and from the Common or Turnham Green Tube with their purchases. “

The society says that it has conducted a survey of local residents about the Street food market and 50% of those who responded were against the Market and only 28% were in favour.

The Dukes Meadows Trust, which runs a weekly Sunday food market to support its efforts, is objecting on the grounds of the impact the Street Food market would have on its fundraising. It says “The proposed market which appears to be the same type of market as ours, farmers, and producers with street food, would directly compete and, we believe, very negatively affect the Trust’s market. Our market is a social enterprise and strongly supports other council aims and objectives. Its loss would remove a source of fresh food from an area that has poor access to that; the area is a fresh food desert. It would also set back the regeneration of a deprived area.”

However, supporters of the application include a number of local businesses including a café owner and another local trader. Those in favour point to the success of the three existing markets in helping rejuvenate the town centre after the pandemic and say that it would attract a younger demographic to the area.

Many of those giving their backing say they live in the immediate vicinity of the market and that it would be of significant value to them and an enhancement of the area.

The Licensing Panel is made up of local councillors who will be obliged to make their decision based on the relevant legislation and borough licensing policy.


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