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The traders’ chief concerns – and those of nearby residents – are centred on what they say is a serious lack of car parking provision in the plans and the height of the proposed buildings, which they say will dwarf their surroundings.

They made their protests clear at a meeting last week chaired by local MP Simon Hughes to assess the revised plans as part of the statutory consultation process for the development.

The scheme relies on the formation of two distinct public spaces, the new Oval Market (both covered and open) and the historic Bermondsey Square. Stallholders at the antiques market should benefit from improved lighting for the early mornings as well as far more convenient loading and unloading facilities. The council are also hoping to bring new life to the area by the addition of offices, flats, shops, two restaurants, a wine bar and even an hotel to the 1.5-acre site.

One dealer, who helped draw up a petition against the development, says the lack of parking could mean local streets being jammed on market days as well as causing ongoing problems for guests using the proposed hotel.

Another concern is that, although the council want the market to continue while the development takes place, the reality is that Health and Safety officers could close it down if they were not happy with measures taken to safeguard traders and the public. If that happened, the fear is that the market could be eroded, with dealers quitting their stalls permanently rather than put up with any ongoing inconvenience.

The consultation process, which will continue for several months, will culminate in a report by planning and development officers from the council, giving their recommendations on the scheme for approval or not. If the plans are turned down, the developers have the option of going to appeal, but as so much time has been spent working with the council to ensure that all conditions for the development to go ahead are met, it is expected that permission will be granted some time next year.