BY TOBY PORTER
A market fighting to stay open has scooped its fourth award in the space of two years – and revealed it is turning away up to five businesses a week who want to open up there.
The 80-year-old Tooting Market, which is threatened with demolition for a huge rail project, won the Independent Retailer of the Year in Wandsworth.
The market’s front entrance was featured all over the world in August when the Lonely Planet travel guides listed it as the 10th coolest place to visit in the world.
Manager Roi Mengelgrein, who ran Camden Market for 10 years, said: “Everyone wants to open a food unit here. People can see what is happening and want to be part of it. “I get four or five inquiries a week about food outlets.
“But if we saturated the market with restaurants, we would kill off the butchers, fishmongers, pet stores and other shops which have been here for up to 40 years.
“We keep rents down but also insist everyone opens early, otherwise it is not fair on the people who have been here for decades.
“It is amazing to have got this award. The honours, the prestige and changes happening here only happen to a handful of people in the world.”
Transport for London (TFL) told market managers in September last year that the current proposal for the Cross Rail 2 ventilation shaft at Tooting Broadway would require the compulsory purchase of 65 per cent of the market building.
Managers say the current design would force the closure of Tooting Market as the remaining stalls would not be feasible to operate as a market. A petition to save it has attracted 3,000 signatures.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “No final decisions have been made on whether Crossrail 2 comes to Balham or Tooting Broadway. While the decision is yet to be made, a station at Tooting Broadway has long been a part of plans for Crossrail 2.
“The required area amounts to less than half of the overall market space.
“At this stage, all alternative station alignments have been shown to have significantly greater impact on local people’s homes.”