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Pickles throws out Smithfield Market plans

The Victorian Society welcomes Secretary of State’s decision

Photo: The Victorian Society

The Secretary of State today rejected Henderson Global Investors' plans to demolish large parts of historic Victorian buildings at Smithfield Market in the City of London and replace them with a large office and retail development.

After reviewing the plans and evidence given by The Victorian Society, SAVE Britain's Heritage and other experts over a two week public inquiry in February 2014, the Secretary of State concluded that:  

"The Western Market buildings are an integral part of the group of market buildings that is a key characteristic of the Smithfield Conservation Area and that it is important that they are repaired and put into a beneficial use that is consistent with their conservation as heritage assets. Like the Inspector, he finds that the proposal to demolish important parts of significant market buildings, to the great detriment to the surrounding area, to be wholly unacceptable."

The Secretary of State added: "The extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives."

Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society, said:   "We are delighted that the Secretary of State has recognised the importance of Smithfield General Market. These buildings are vital to the character of Smithfield and to the commercial, industrial and architectural history of the City of London."

"Buildings like Smithfield General Market are what make the City such a special place. We hope that this decision will cause developers and the City of London to reappraise the importance of the City's heritage and ensure that future schemes put buildings this like these at the centre of their plans. It is now time for the City of London and Hendersons to work together to bring forward a conservation-led scheme that will repair and reopen this magnificent complex of buildings. After two public inquiries it should now be clear that the current approach is flawed."

"We are looking forward to seeing proposals which will ensure that Smithfield General Market is brought back into public use for Londoners and visitors to enjoy."

A key argument raised at the inquiry was whether the poor condition of the buildings should be taken into account when deciding their fate. The City of London and developers argued that their poor condition meant that the plans to redevelop the site should be welcomed. The Victorian Society is pleased to see that the decision of the Secretary of State to reject Henderson's plans confirms the principle that owners and developers should not be rewarded for neglecting historic buildings.

Tuesday 8 July, 2014

More recent item: Remembering William Butterfield – 7 September
Earlier item: Bristol’s heritage at risk as Ebenezer Chapel and Avonvale School face demolition

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