Public Markets Challenge

Looking for solutions that will help unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of London’s market traders and increase the resilience and diversity of London’s markets

What is the Challenge?

Create a scalable and transferrable digital service that creates a single gateway for trader licensing applications and that allows traders to access trading opportunities across London’s public markets by making it easier to register across multiple sites and boroughs.


The London Boroughs of Hackney, Camden, Tower Hamlets and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The solution would need to be easily scalable and portable to be operated across all London boroughs.

Who are the end users? 

Local authority street trading/market teams, existing licensed traders and potential new temporary traders and entrepreneurs who would like to trial a business idea on a market or street trading isolated site operating under the London Local Authorities Act 1990 or the Food Act 1984.

What impact are we seeking?

  • London’s market traders easily register and move between markets in the pilot boroughs and thereby flexibly respond to trading opportunities and changes in demand.
  • Provides access to thousands of trading pitches and locations across London and the ability to upscale and grow trader’s enterprise across multiple local authorities with ease. 
  • Harnesses the broader value that markets bring to the High Street in terms of footfall, cultural and social activities and contribution to the local economy.
  • Reduces a key barrier to new traders by making it easier to access low cost, low threshold and flexible opportunities into employment and entrepreneurialism.
  • Scaling the solution across all of London’s boroughs to increase jobs and improve local economies


  • Number of London boroughs involved in pilot
  • Increase in new trader applications
  • Increase in new types of traders (products/services etc)
  • Increase in occupied pitches on LA operated Markets 
  • Increase in new and existing traders moving between two or more local authorities
  • Reduction in application processing time (measured as a percentage)
  • Increase in local authority revenue
  • Improved trader satisfaction
  • Reduction in applications rejected owing to incorrect/insufficient info

What will the Resilience Partners provide?

  • Capacity – convening a consortium of pilot boroughs who can provide expertise and access to existing systems, drawing operational expertise of The National Association of British Markets. (NABMA) and National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) and the strategic oversight and support of the London Markets Board.
  • Staff time and expertise from LB Hackney, LB Tower Hamlets, LB Camden, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Brixton Market Traders Federation.
  • Access to market traders to conduct research, iterate and test the solution.

What does good look like?


  • A digital service that creates a single gateway for trader licensing application to public markets in London.
  • A streamlined and easy to use registration and application criteria which if met, achieves trading license registration across all participating boroughs.
  • Built-in supply and demand mechanism that allows traders to respond to trading opportunities across multiple markets and boroughs with ease, and enables local authority market teams to advertise market vacancies.
  • A flexible solution that enables specific variations to the core criteria which can be pointed to specific market operators (including GDPR and license fee requirements)


  • Capacity to evolve to include other areas that local authority market teams are responsible for including tables and chairs, forecourt trading and busking licenses.

Background information

  • Prior to the pandemic local authority markets accounted for more trading hours than all other markets put together. They also accounted for 38% of vacancies by pitch-hour, in part due to a shortfall in recruiting and supporting professional traders able to make a viable living.  The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated this shortfall and other challenges faced by markets and the wider high street.
  • Each London borough has a different process for accepting trader applications which can be paper based and take several months to process – this can put many applicants off applying to public markets. 
  • No licensing facility enables traders to easily move between boroughs, and each trader must register in every borough that they wish to trade in – restricting how and when traders trade.
  • There is low visibility of trading opportunities/vacant pitches across London and traders are unable to flexibly respond to supply and demand.
  • Several local authorities have highlighted the opportunity that markets provide in supporting low barrier forms of local employment as part of their high street renewal and post COVID-19 recovery planning work.  Many have seen a number of new traders pop up as a result of the pandemic. However, within the current licensing processes and systems it will become increasingly difficult for local authorities to act quickly and respond to meet the demand for new traders. 

About the Resilience Partner

The London Borough of Hackney is the lead partner for this challenge. Other partners include a consortium of local authority market teams, including London Borough of Tower Hamlets, London Borough of Camden and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Brixton Community Market. Local authorities are responsible for the registration and licensing process for public market traders and have extensive experience in managing their local authority markets and in-depth knowledge of the communities they operate in.