Hemingway’s Leather Lane

Call for market layout to change

A report from Camden Council and Hemingway Design has recommended a rethink of Leather Lane market. Published this year to address the issues facing all the markets in the borough of Camden – including the famous Camden Market, where Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Design began his career in fashion and design – Camden Markets Vision & Recommendations 2019 cites particular flashpoints facing Leather Lane, which has become a destination for lunch time food stalls and buffets.

As the report notes, Leather Lane is a financial success. Across Camden market trading generates around £964,000 per year [a figure from 2016–17] with 38 per cent of that income from Leather Lane alone.

But it also found a degree of conflict between shop owners and newer food and drink outlets that populate the famous market in EC1. As well as complaints about waste disposal, noise, and the residues of food and oil on the road, Leather Lane now only has a small A number of non-food applications and may have become overdependent on the lunchtime trade during the hours of 11am–2pm.

Even other caterers on the street find it difficult, added the report. One restaurateur said: “…the buffet food has got so far out of control that my restaurant has been completely blocked off so customers can no longer get through the stalls into my restaurant”.

The recommendations from Hemingway Design are for the market’s layout to change, so that stalls don’t block out the shopfronts. It also suggested that a wider “traders’ community” should emerge, where the stalls and shops become more considerate of each other, enjoy more trade throughout the day and attract a more diverse clientele – most notably serving local people doing high street shopping on Leather Lane rather than just catering for office workers on lunch hour.

Practical suggestions for the market included the provision of different sized stalls from small carts to large, semipermanent lockups; better storage, so that dismantled stalls and vans don’t clutter the streets, and different zones for different types of merchandise. It also proposed that as Leather Lane is only busy on weekdays, it could be bought back to life as a flea market or community market at weekends. Local traders could be encouraged, in order to provide greater neighbourhood benefit from the market.

“There is a fundamental need for the layout plan to consider the needs of the entire street and all who reside and trade there,” suggested Wayne Hemingway

To download the report: Visit camden.gov.uk/documents