Fresh Look for Fruit and Veg Market to Rival Borough; LONDON'S LARDER CHANGES FOR NEW COVENT GARDEN ... AND BATTERSEA

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Byline: Ross Lydall

NEW Covent Garden market will return to its historic role as "London's larder" under plans to redevelop the site in Battersea.

The wholesale fruit, vegetables and flower market will be opened to the public in a bid to rival Borough market.

It would be rebranded as The Garden -- the name by which it is known by tradesmen -- with the redevelopment funded by building hundreds of flats, designed by Lord Foster's architecture practice, alongside new market units.

An area known as The Garden Heart would be the hub of the redevelopment.

This could feature a retail market, a cookery school, cafes and restaurants.

Baroness Dean, chairman of Covent Garden Market Authority, said: "We believe that The Garden will become to food what Westfield is to fashion. It is a way of forming the focal point for the food industry in London."

The scheme would add to the wider transformation of the Nine Elms area of Battersea, as it would sit alongside the proposed new American embassy and near Battersea Power Station, which is also being redeveloped.

The embassy proposals were last night given outline permission by Wandsworth's planning applications committee and will now be considered by London Mayor Boris Johnson. However, the government-backed market authority has objected to the US embassy moving to the area from Mayfair because it fears road closures caused by security alerts would cause chaos for delivery drivers.

The fruit and vegetable and flower markets moved to Battersea in 1974, allowing Covent Garden to be redeveloped as a specialist shopping and tourist piazza.

It is the country's largest fresh-produce market, with an annual turnover of [pounds sterling]606 million as it supplies hotels and restaurants in London and across the UK.

But the market authority believes the 57-acre site, near the south bank of the Thames, is overdue for redevelopment. …