LB Hounslow to decide on Sunday street food market for Chiswick High Rd

Image above: British Street Foods

Street food market proposed by Chiswick entrepreneur and food journalist Richard Johnson

LB Hounslow is set to decide this week whether Chiswick will have a new monthly street food market.

The man behind the idea, Chiswick-based entrepreneur and food writer Richard Johnson, has built a business promoting street foods:

“The best meals I’ve ever eaten weren’t in a Michelin-starred establishment. They were on the streets. The streets of Bethlehem, with its hole-in-the-wall falafel shacks serving up fat pittas, stuffed with hummus, pickle and broad beans. The streets of New York. And the streets of Mandalay, where I first had fishy noodles – for breakfast – still salty from the sea. Street food is exciting. But you wouldn’t say that of street food in Europe. Until now.”

Image above: British Street Foods

Local businesses “interested” in food market idea

The decision will be made by the borough’s Licensing Panel, made up of councillors rather than council officers, who meet on Tuesday 7 March.  Richard will be asked to make his case for the market and any objections will also be heard.

If the licence is granted it will mean a market in Old Market Place outside George IV pub on almost every Sunday of the year (excluding months when there are five Sundays). The Chiswick Flower Market has become established on the first Sunday of the month, the Antiques and Vintage market on the second Sunday, and the Chiswick Cheese market on the third Sunday.

Richard has applied for permission for 64 stalls stretching from the Hogarth statue to the old police station. The licence, if granted, would run for a period of six months and could be renewed automatically by officers unless there are complaints about the operation of the event.

About 14 local businesses have registered their interest in the market so far, though Richard says many are waiting first to see whether or not the licensing panel gives the scheme the green light.

Image above: Richard Johnson on Dragons’ Den; photograph British Street Foods

Local businesses to be involved “at every level”

Richard told The Chiswick Calendar though the basis of the market would be local providers, he would bring in other businesses from outside Chiswick:

“I want to involve [local] food businesses at every level in what we’re doing. The first thing I did was got some leaflets produced at Snappy Snapps and I walked down Chiswick High Road and Turnham Green Terrace and handed out leaflets to every business in Chiswick, lots of them are interested.

“The idea is we can have a demo stage, coffee shops can come to talk about why they use a particular roasted bean. A food writer can come and talk about their new book, or Borough Kitchen can talk about a special new type of knife – stuff like that. So that we’re working with existing restaurants, existing delis, existing stores in the area.

“I’ve been talking to Chiswick House kitchen garden about them providing seasonal fruit and vegetables, which they’re going to help us with, which means some of the demos we’ll be able to use fruit and vegetables that are in season. Which is a good chance for us to talk about rhubarb for instance which is coming in now. We’ve been talking to Cultivate London who are going to be growing herbs in Acton that we’ll be using.

“So really, we’re just leveraging all the opportunities to talk about local, about Chiswick. That’s the idea. It will be street food traders, it will be growers, producers and anybody in the food network of Chiswick and beyond. My business is British Street Food Awards, so I’m aware of lots of exciting street food traders beyond Chiswick. So if they’re passing through and we can get the do demo with us for a Sunday then we’ll do that.”

Richard recently appeared on BBC Dragons’ Den, when he unsuccessfully pitched an idea of street food based events. “I got a proper grilling”, he said, “and my nerves definitely got the better of me.”

Councillor Joanna Biddolph opposes the market

Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor Joanna Biddolph

Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor Joanna Biddolph has submitted a representation against the licence application, claiming another market would have ‘unfair’ competition over established businesses in Chiswick.

She says Mr Johnson has not provided enough detail in his proposals, and cites two local businesses who are similarly skeptical of the proposals due to their supposed lack of detail.

One restaurant owner submitted an objection to the market’s licensing application,  saying:

“I do fear the Street food market will help to put a nail in the coffin with some of us, particularly as Hounslow is not offering support , larger pavement licence or any business rates rebate – the situation really is quite dire for many.”

Mid Chiswick Society/Friends of Chiswick Common say their members are largely against the idea. They say in a recent survey half of their members were against the food market taking place, with 28% in favour.

‘Attitudes to the Markets are mixed – which many residents pointing to the difficult issues with parking. People who live in Elliott Road and Windmill Road in particular find that both traders and visitors take over the free parking spaces on a Sunday and people are expecting Sunday visitors who pop out to church or their allotments cannot then return to their homes.

‘Many are elderly. 65% of respondents say it has been more difficult for them. People feel that if the market were to be approved they would have to have parking restrictions on Sunday and that in turn would create other issues.”

Image above: Market stalls during Chiswick Flower Market; photograph Anna Kunst

Chiswick Flower Market director refutes Joanna Biddolph’s comments about their market

Chiswick Flower Market director Karen Liebreich put out a statement disassociating the flower market with Cllr Biddolph’s submission to the Licensing Panel over Richard Johnson’s application.

The Flower Market is neutral with regard to the food market, not taking a position either way on whether it should go ahead, but she says:

“Reading through Cllr Biddolph’s submission of 13 February 2023 regarding the Food Street licence, we note several inaccuracies”.

Cllr Biddolph makes various statements, which are publicly available to read on the Council website, which they say are not true, among them that the markets cause litter and have not brought trade to the existing bricks and mortar businesses in Chiswick.

Read Karen Liebreich’s statement here:

Chiswick Flower Market director  refutes Cllr Biddolph’s comments about the market

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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