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Following the completion of a land-transfer deal between the council and the Igloo Regeneration Partnership, over 200 dealers are now bracing themselves for disruptions lasting at least a year and half.

The council say the antiques market will remain “fully operational” on the site during the 20-month construction phase. “This will be achieved by cordoning off the construction work and moving the stalls around the square as the development takes shape,” said a spokesman. They acknowledge that there will be disruption but vow to ensure the market is clearly signposted and advertised so customers can find it easily.

Urban Catalyst, Igloo’s site agents, have now officially taken over the site. Their new scheme will see the construction of a new market square, a three-star hotel, an open air cinema, apartments, retail units, a restaurant and a wine bar. There will also be a new permanent storage area for the stalls.

Traders and representatives of the local community submitted a 600-signature petition to the council leader in 2001, objecting to what they considered the overdevelopment of Bermondsey Square.

But with building soon to start, the developers have renewed their commitment to preserving and enhancing the antiques market. Ken Dytor, chief executive of Urban Catalyst, said: “Bermondsey market has an international reputation in the antiques world, and we have set out from the start to ensure the market can take its place and thrive in the new Bermondsey Square.”