Oxford Street food market given green light in war on American candy stores

A huge new Oxford Street food market has been given the green light as part of the war on American-style candy shops in central London.

Nearly 20 restaurants will set up in the site next to Marble Arch after Westminster council granted planning permission this week.

The building was previously Evans’ flagship London store. But when the plus-size clothing brand went online-only at the end of 2020 it became a "London gifts" and "Prime Candy" shop.

 (Westminster Council)
(Westminster Council)

The sharp rise of garish stores all selling similar products has been seen as symbolic of the decline of the world-famous shopping road.

Westminster council began a crackdown on the vendors in 2022. Since then the town hall has seized more than £1million in unsafe, counterfeit or illegal products.

There has also been a concerted effort to attract more restaurants and tourist sites to the area, rather than just retailers.

Artist impression of the new Oxford Street food market (Westminster Council)
Artist impression of the new Oxford Street food market (Westminster Council)

Town planners said if the food court application had been submitted “many years ago” they would not have recommended its approval.

However, in the aftermath of the Covid lockdowns, and following the departure of major brands including Debenhams, House of Fraser and Topshop, more than two dozen brightly-coloured sweet and souvenir outlets took over Oxford Street.

Councillor Nafsika Butler-Thalassis told Tuesday night’s planning meeting: “I want to stress how important it is that instead of very poor quality retail that we have at the moment in that location, how much more it will improve the area by having this food court and I think that will be of huge benefit to Oxford Street and residents.”

Medra Group, which submitted the food court plans, said the business would open from 7am to 11pm daily for takeaways and sit-in dinners.

The nearby five-star Marriott hotel objected to the proposals, arguing that the takeaway facility "would adversely impact on the character of the area and that low level ventilation into a shared lightwell with the hotel could potentially result in nuisance from cooking odours".

But planning officers said a “recirculation system handling odours” would prevent any smells.