These sprawling plans from Foster and Partners, and Neil Tomlinson Architects are the third such proposals for the Covent Garden Market Authority who have been looking at redeveloping a site in the south east of London that is set along the Nine Elms Corridor.
The central idea behind the scheme is to try and combine the food and flower markets of Covent Garden on one site, plus create a new retail centre around it with the likes of cafes and restaurants. Also included in the plans are educational facilities, and the possibility of a public market.
The site, which is currently occupied by 1970s era buildings, lacks the ability to cope with many of the logistical demands that the market places on it today meaning that new buildings are the way forward with wholesale and catering distributors whilst the flower market will be moved from its existing northern location near Vauxhall Bridge to here so it can be more tightly integrated in the overall operations.
This also opens up the area at Vauxhall Bridge and Wandsworth Road for redevelopment meaning that 1750 new homes can be built here including a number of tall buildings. Providing public amenity will be an outdoor park of between 40 and 60 metres in width that can be lined by six buildings of between 8 and 15 storeys. The tallest three towers will sit on the eastern edge of the site go from 25 to 46 storeys tying in with what is already proposed for the area.
Furthermore, the main entrance to the market can be redeveloped with another 450 homes including a 19-storey tower, and the area on the far west of the main market site around Thessaly Road can have approximately 200 apartments set in mansion blocks of 4 to 6 storeys.
The scale of the plans are perhaps best described as massive. For this part of London the project is unprecedented, and the sheer size of it will prove hugely controversial for those who live in the area, with many bound to have a hostile opinion.
That said, the proposals are still at an outline stage and it is merely a case of the developer and the involved architects trying to draw up a manageable masterplan - what does get built could end up radically different.