Mercato Ilford 'delayed again' as council pushes for Christmas opening

Concepts for Mercato Ilford, which started construction after a delayed start. Picture: Mercato Metr

Concepts for Mercato Ilford, which will not be opening next month as planned - Credit: Archant

The opening of Mercato Ilford has been delayed again, this newspaper understands.

The long-awaited third Mercato Metropolitano (MM) site had been scheduled to open next month, having broken ground in late 2019. 

But Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal told the Recorder this week that project would not meet that target. 

“It has slightly been delayed, but you can rest assured I am literally pinning people up against the wall,” he said. 

Ground was broken for the project in November 2019, with a view to opening in the summer of 2020. 

Sadiq Khan visits Ilford's Mercato Metropolitano

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Sadiq Khan, Cllr Athwal and Judith Garfield visiting the Mercato Metropolitano site in Ilford. - Credit: Jas Athwal

Construction on the scheme has been set back repeatedly, but Cllr Athwal pointed out the council could not control delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He added: “Wherever we have had a funding shortfall, the council has dipped in and worked hard to make sure we deliver on time."

The council leader said he was pushing those involved to complete the project by Christmas. 

Concepts for Mercato Ilford. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

Concepts for Mercato Ilford. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council hopes that the Oakfield Road project will generate more than 100 new jobs and help transform the town centre into a vibrant cultural quarter. 

Along with SPACE Ilford, MM is part of the Good Growth Fund regeneration project known as ‘The Spark’, which was developed with the Greater London Authority (GLA). 

SPACE Ilford - an artists' hub - has been in residence at the town hall since 2019

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Mercato Ilford is being funded by a £1.8million grant drawn from a £70m public fund dedicated to urban regeneration projects. 

It is set to have communal seating for 600 people and space for 30 stalls, including a low-packaging grocery store and a German craft brewery. 

The market aims to be the UK’s first circular-economy community food market, with an urban farm on the rooftop producing herbs and vegetables for the restaurants and retailers downstairs. 

There will also be a digester to convert organic waste into energy and compost. 

MM currently operates two other markets across London - the original in Elephant and Castle, and one in a Grade I-listed former church in Mayfair. 

It said it would be issuing an update on the status of the project in the coming weeks.