Woolwich Covered Market in March 2017
Woolwich Covered Market, pictured in March 2017, quietly closed its doors a few months ago after more than 70 years of trading

Greenwich Council is looking for an operator to transform Woolwich Covered Market, which closed down earlier this year after decades of decline.

The site is slated for long-term redevelopment as part of the council’s Spray Street Masterplan, with 600 new homes, shops, restaurants and a cinema.

But the council is now offering the market on a “meanwhile” lease of at least two years, which it says could provide an “ideal opportunity for specialist markets, food markets and cafes/bars, cultural events [or a] temporary start-up space”.

Royal Arsenal and Covered Market
The market (right) sits opposite Berkeley Homes’ Royal Arsenal development and forthcoming Crossrail station

Bringing the huge space back to life has huge potential for Woolwich, and done correctly, could also help bridge the big social divide between “new” Woolwich in the Royal Arsenal opposite and “old” Woolwich south of the A206.

Opened in 1936, the Covered Market was once a thriving space but closed earlier this year after many years of decline, with just a handful of occupants remaining. It still retains air raid shelters beneath the market space.

Woolwich Covered Market ad

Many locals will argue that this move is long overdue, following the huge success of Lewisham’s Model Market, another site earmarked for long-term redevelopment, which has been occupied by weekend bars and restaurants for the past three summers and seen round-the-block queues to get in.

Model Market
Lewisham’s Model Market has helped change the area’s reputation

Tooting Market, which is a very similar space to Woolwich, has also been transformed into a haven of food and drink businesses while retaining some of the original retail outlets. The operator of Tooting Market has campaigned on social media to be allowed to take on the Woolwich space.

Tooting Market
Tooting Market is a mixture of established retailers and start-ups such as Pilango Cider and beer shop Craft Tooting

Whatever happens with the covered market, it will already face some competition from another temporary venue on land behind the Iceland store on Powis Street. The operator of the Pop Brixton food and drink market, which is made out of shipping containers, has been given planning permission to create a sister venue, Wool Yard, which will sit opposite Woolwich’s Lidl store for up to five years.

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