How a central-London church turned into a vibrant food market
- Project: Leonard Street Market
- Date Commenced: December 2019
- Client: Aitch Group
- Location: St Michaels Church Yard, Shoreditch, London, United Kingdom
In the bustling heart of Shoreditch, St Michael’s Church is located between the bars and the start-ups offices. Because of the church’s historical and monumental value we decided that the best way to secure it would be via an electronic security system. We also used the ‘yard’ in a creative way to generate additional revenue for the owners, creating a food market with various food trucks now housed in the outdoor area offer an enticing lunch location with their colorful kitchens and delicious scents.
We were approached by Aitch Group, the owner of this Grade II listed church, to offer a solution to reduce their security risk and create extra revenue to help pay towards the site’s upkeep. Before Aitch Group bought the property the church site was used as a reclamation yard and show site for the buying and selling of interesting antiques, statues, old fire places etc.
Before we could start installing a temporary security solution we first needed to clear the site and make sure it was safe. The Aitch Group hopes to develop the church, but the monumental value and building restrictions make this a challenging task. That’s why The Aitch Group approached us to not only secure the site, but to also come up with a creative solution for driving revenue whilst adding value to the surrounding neighborhood.
The church site is in the middle of the East End of London and is considered to be ‘high risk, which usually requires a high-cost, 24/7 man guard on site – which is an expensive solution. Due to the area’s high risk status, and the historical and monumental value of the property, we were unable to protect the church with our live-in guardian services. We therefore successfully secured the church using an electronic security system and then contacted Hackney Council Market Trading Team to setup an outdoor food market in the yard.
The council was so excited about our plans, recognising the benefits and regeneration value that we would be bringing to local area, that they fully supported our startup initiative and even offered our traders a 50% discount on their daily trading licence.
Our biggest challenge was in finding market vendors, as this was both our first UK-based market project and the timing wasn’t great; we started looking for vendors just before Christmas, when most vendors had already signed contracts with other markets. However, when the word started spreading across the local area there was a real surge in interest and within a couple of weeks the whole yard was filled with food trucks and enthusiastic locals – we even had to create a waiting list for new vendors applications.