Friday, 8 August 2008

Historic market space saved from demolition in 'regeneration' plan

Sir Terry Farrell opposed it, so did Eric Reynolds, the Smithfields regeneration will now have to undertake a dramatic re-think as it turns out, the Government opposes it too. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has rejected plans for the regeneration of Smithfields Market in London submitted by Thornfield Properties and the City of London.

The revised Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed plans for the disused and run-down market were approved in April 2007 and included the demolition of the historic General Market building and the replacement with a seven-storey office and retail complex.

But English Heritage together with SAVE Britain's Heritage opposed the plans following approval and a public inquiry was launched in November last year. English Heritage said that there was clear evidence that the unlisted General Market building could be sympathetically renovated and that, "the proposed replacement - a seven-storey block - would be intrusive, undermining the diversity and human scale of the Smithfield Conservation Area and introducing an intensive office use".

Blears rejection statement fot the plans reflects this sentiment. She said the plans would, "significantly detract from the market complex as a whole".

Terry Farrell has designed a masterplan for the area which focuses on the re-use of the existing buildings and "reinstating them as the centre of activity within the local community". He issued a statement saying:

"London’s marketplaces are wonderful places and Smithfield Market, in particular, has the potential to be one of the most extraordinary and well-connected areas in the capital...

"Today’s decision is good news for markets and for London. It is also a victory for urban design and masterplanning over piecemeal development."

Thursday, 7 August 2008

English Heritage Celebrate As London's Smithfield Market Is Saved

The future of the historic Smithfield Market in London looks to have been secured after the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, Hazel Blears, announced that she agrees with her Inspector’s recommendation that the conservation area should not be demolished.

Detail of General Market Building that was threatened with demolition. © English Heritage

The news, announced today on August 7 2008, means that the Smithfield General Market Building will remain intact and planning permissions will be refused for a proposed replacement scheme. In effect, the Secretary of State has accepted the evidence of English Heritage that the General Market Building could and should be re-used.

“This is a fantastic day for London’s heritage and for all those who care about what makes this great city special,” said Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage.

“This decision proves that the historic environment is about much more than just individual listed buildings – this is an acknowledgement of the many unlisted - but not unloved - buildings which collectively create a powerful sense of place and positively contribute to the fabric of the city.”

The General Market Building as it stands today on Farringdon Road. © English Heritage

“We are sure that local authorities across the country will take note of this important decision, which is a timely reminder of their duty to safeguard the special character of conservation areas in their care as well as historic buildings, listed or not, for the contribution they make,” added Mr Thurley.

An Inquiry opened in November 2007 into the future of the historic western market buildings at Smithfield in London, which included proposals for the wholesale demolition of the Victorian General Market Building, an integral part of the historic market complex and the Smithfield Conservation Area.

Proposals by the City of London Corporation to demolish and replace the building were strongly opposed by English Heritage. They accused the City Corporation of flouting Government planning policy by neglecting the buildings which it owns and failing to offer them on the open market for reuse before agreeing to their demolition and alteration.

English Heritage visualisation of how the General Market Building could look repaired and reused. © English Heritage

A raft of experts, including the architect Sir Terry Farrell, were enlisted to help put English Heritage’s case for a viable re-use of the building rather than replacement by a seven-storey block.

“We now expect the Corporation to take the opportunity to bring forward a creative scheme for the repair and re-use of the General Market Building, Annex and Red House Cold Store, to enable them to fully contribute to the important conservation area in which they sit,” added Mr Thurley.

Smithfield market plans refused

A part of the historic Smithfield market earmarked for demolition has been saved after planning permission to redevelop the site was refused.

The western part of the meat market in Farringdon, central London, was due to be converted into shops and offices.

The bid involved demolishing the disused 19th Century building, the General Market and other structures.

But Communities Secretary Hazel Blears refused permission saying the proposal would harm the area's character.
Ms Blears said the existing buildings on the site made "a significant contribution" to the character and appearance of Farringdon, including the Smithfield Conservation Area.

Public inquiry

The development was put forward by Thornfield Properties and the City of London.

The plans, which were the subject of a public inquiry, have proved controversial.

Supporters claimed the development would revive Smithfield but opponents suggest it would damage the conservation area and be intrusive.

English Heritage has not listed the General Market Building, but opposed the proposals to demolish it and redevelop the site.

Renovating and reusing

It said it was delighted with the decision.

Chief executive Simon Thurley said: "This decision proves that the historic environment is about much more than just individual listed buildings - this is an acknowledgement of the many unlisted - but not unloved - buildings which collectively create a powerful sense of place and positively contribute to the fabric of the city."

He also said it was inappropriate to demolish the General Market in an era when there was increasing concern about sustainability and said he hoped the City of London would now bring forward plans for renovating and reusing the building.

Smithfield has been home to a meat market for centuries, as well as the site of medieval jousting tournaments and St Bartholomew's fair.

Many of the market's Victorian buildings are listed.

Thornfield Properties said it was "disappointed" by Thursday's decision, adding: "We have been working on this project for more than five years and are committed to carrying it through to planning permission and full development of the site."