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Ilford to get Italian-inspired makeover as Redbridge Council greenlights food market plans

PUBLISHED: 15:01 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:01 27 February 2019

Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

Archant

Are we in Ilford or Italy?

Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano
Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

That may be soon by the question on all town centre shoppers’ lips after food market chain Mercato Metropolitano (MM) was granted planning permission at a meeting yesterday (February 26) to set up shop in Redbridge Town Hall’s car park, in Oakfield Road, for five years.

Redbridge Council is partnering with the chain, which is known for its Elephant and Castle covered market “with an Italian soul”, as part of the “Spark Ilford” scheme to regenerate Ilford town centre.

“This is fantastic news and is another step towards transforming our town centre into a vibrant cultural quarter,” said council leader Cllr Jas Athwal.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Mercato on this venture which will not only offer diverse, fresh produce for visitors but bring communities together through food and social events.

Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano
Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

“This is a very exciting time for Ilford town centre.”

The market – dubbed “Mercato Ilford” – is due to open officially this year.

As reported last year, it is set to feature a “hydroponic farm”, a method of growing plants without soil, upon its roof.

Herbs and vegetables grown in this farm can be used by market vendors for cooking.

Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano
Elephant and Castle MM. Picture: Mercato Metropolitano

It is also slated to boast a brewery and filtration system that will make briny sea water drinkable.

Events such as cookery classes, community lunches, activities and school holiday clubs will also be provided.

It is hoped the community market will help start-up companies make their business ideas a reality by teaming them up with entrepreneurs the borough.

Spark Ilford also includes creative and enterprise projects with artist studios SPACE Ilford and community interest company Things Made Public.

SPACE recently received planning permission to run a public art gallery and creative studio spaces within Redbridge Town Hall.

Things Made Public are working on designs for the Janice Mews building, which will complement the Spark offer.

A consultation on plans to close the Town Hall car park will be launched in March.

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