* UPDATE Friday 26 October 2018: the Ridley Road Shopping Village traders have won what one campaigner called “a small win” but which could also be termed great progress after the sudden eviction notice they unexpectedly received a fortnight ago. Site owner Rainbow Property UK sent two people, among them Yael Toledano-Epstein, to meet the traders in Dalston, and agreed to let the market open for at least six more months from tomorrow Saturday. Footnote: Toledano-Epstein appears on the Companies House register of many of the myriad businesses associated with Rainbow owner Guy Ziser
* UPDATE Thursday 251018 afternoon: Ridley Road Shopping Village has won a last-minute reprieve. The management company is to relinquish the lease and the indoor market will be allowed to resume then continue through Christmas, the shopping village’s big trading period. Details are still being discussed between the owner’s representatives, police and Hackney council, so have not been formalised, but the improved situation, the result of a wide-ranging publicity campaign, looks promising. This dramatic turn in the story came after Loving Dalston emphasised to the owner that a small problem had spiralled out of control unnecessarily. Below is the story as events unfolded earlier today
RIDLEY ROAD SHOPPING VILLAGE is likely to be closed tomorrow by the firm that leases the premises. All the shops in the covered market on the north side of the street will cease to trade on Friday 26 October 2018… unless the leaseholder has a change of heart.
The loss will affect not just the traders, who were given two weeks’ notice and have been frantically scrambling for new premises, it will harm the future of the street market.
Kerry Maisey, who runs Ridley Road Market Bar/Wu’s, said 100 small traders from the street market and small shops used underground spaces for storage. She said: “It is the biggest storage amenity for the entire market.”
With a multi-bus service and in walking distance of four railway stations, the site is prime real estate and the prime candidate to get hold of it is the uber-hip Second Home.
Maisey commented: “If the building at 51-63 Ridley Road gets redeveloped, we lose half the traders from the (street/outdoors) market.
“It’s a six-day-a-week market and you cannot trade if you do not have storage, so no storage means no market.”
Ridley Road traders’ leader Larry Julian said the loss of so many storage spaces could wreck the street market. The Birkbeck Mews storage facility was already under threat from Hackney council’s commercial-property ambitions.
The council took up the shopping village traders’ cause but its offer — places in the street market and at a reduced rent — suggest that the town hall is not going even to try to prevent the closure of the market, which has been operating in Ridley Road for 38 years.
In a radio interview and subsequent press release, Philip Glanville, Hackney’s Mayor, was unsure about the parties involved, referring to “the market owners” and their ”misleading” letter to traders (the notice to quit). The market owners had chosen to use a police crackdown on criminals hanging around the indoor market as an excuse to close the venue.
An associate of the site owner (not the operator), Guy Ziser, said the press statement was “full of inaccuracies”. One of Ziser’s companies, many of them registered in the British Virgin Islands, lets the indoor market to a separate firm, Ridley Road Shopping Village Ltd.
The young investor contacted Loving Dalston to say: “We are sad that the market operator Ridley Road Shopping Village took the decision to close it now”.
“We don’t have any contact with the traders themselves, but in the two years or more that we’ve owned this site, we’ve been keen for this market to operate and for the traders to prosper.
“We’d have been happy to see the market stay open for another ten months or so, and certainly until Christmas, but it was the market operator’s decision to close.”
He revealed, however, that “As part of the long-term improvements for this site, we’re talking with Hackney council about how we can bring in small independent traders and make sure we continue the spirit of this gem of a market.”
Perhaps someone should tell that to the traders, who have been busy moving out of their small premises. Christopher Notley and his wife Chris seemed stoical as they contemplated leaving, having opened their jewellery shop in the indoor market in 1987. Christopher said he would retire; his wife that she would continue her job with a Home Counties council.
Dean Johnson was removing his clothing-printing materials and had no specific plan on how he would resume business.
Mohamed Barry, who sells clothes, has gone into the media to try to save the market but his campaigning has not — not yet — won him security of tenure. His rent for a tiny space is sizeable: £160 a week.
Second Home’s interest in the site, which if levelled would allow for the kind of collaborative office-and-other-spaces kind of scheme it has already set up, is leading to accusations of gentrification.
But Second Home, founded by innovators Rohan Silva and Dalston Roof Park co-founder Sam Aldenton, is finding being an enlightened developer more difficult than they might have expected. One indoor-market shopkeeper complained on social media about a takeover by “beardies”.
In any case, Second Home’s Lisbon, Portugal; London Fields, Hackney; and Los Angeles projects have been behind schedule: a Ridley Road scheme could take a long time to complete.
Second Home would not even talk to Loving Dalston about whether it had its eye on the site. But some of the 60 or artists who have been renting rooms in the top two floors for 12 years say they have had letters requesting access for people linked to Second Home.
Some of the artists are worried that the Second Home people are being falsely represented by one Hackney councillor as if to give the impression that there would be social continuity if artists were replaced by “creatives”.
Extraordinarily, the indoor-market artists say they cannot talk to Loving Dalston because they had signed confidentiality agreements.
If one young entrepreneur has his way, it might not all be over. At the 11th hour he approached traders to say he was contacting the shopping village owner with a view to running a revamped indoor market while the planning process and other preparations rumbled on. Given Second Home’s record of delayed developments, that opportunity could indeed exist.
As for the men who congregate in small groups around market trolleys outside the indoor market, they seemed unbothered today by the evictions as they smoked and joked with one another.
It is a tribute to the tolerance of all the players in this market drama that neither they, nor anybody else, specifically blames the criminals who, the site renter says, persuaded Hackney police to press for the impending closure after a raid turned up knives and drugs. It would, nevertheless, be sad if the behaviour of a few wrecked the livelihoods of many.
David Altheer 250918
* a protest will be held at the market this Saturday 27 October 2018 at 1pm.
* Ridley Road Shopping Village traders have started an online petition to save the indoor market: press this link
* Guy Ziser’s planning application, no 2017/2897, to demolish the building at 51-63 Ridley Road and build shops, offices and ten flats
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.