Friday, 13 December 2013

Eric Reynolds, the market man in last ditch bid to save Smithfield

An ambitious plan to save historic Smithfield Market from partial demolition by turning it into a modern-day market has been lodged by campaign groups and the man who created Camden Market.

Eric Reynolds, of Urban Space Management, which also created Shoreditch Market, said: “We have worked with the Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage to produce a planning application that enables the re-launch of the buildings as a market-based destination for independent food, creative business and cultural enterprise.”

Earlier this year the City of London gave permission to Henderson Global Investors for their £160 million plans to knock down part of the General Market building in Farringdon Street and build a seven-storey office block and shopping complex on the site.

That decision has now been called in by communities secretary Eric Pickles and will be the subject of a public inquiry in February.

Heritage groups – with the notable exception of English Heritage – have condemned the plans. They argue that its unique interior will be destroyed.

Now those heritage groups and Mr Reynolds have submitted their own plans, going “head to head” with Henderson.

Mr Reynolds added: “We will build upon the site’s position at the heart of London, its unrivalled transport connections and Farringdon’s global reputation as a destination for creative business and British food.

“The opportunity cannot be recreated in the atrium of a modern office building. The grand, top- lit Victorian market halls of the General Market building present a unique opportunity to London. Once lost they will be gone for ever.”

The Victorian Society has described the building as “perhaps the most impressive, large-scale and complete complex of market buildings in England”.

A market has operated there for 800 years. The General Market was built in 1881 but has been empty since 1999.

A host of celebrities, including writer Alan Bennett, have also spoken out against the plans and more than 2,600 people have signed a petition against it.

Islington Council has also formally objected to the plans, which are just across its border, on the grounds that the proposals “would substantially harm the General Market and the Smithfield Conservation Area” as well as  the Charterhouse Square Conservation Area and the setting of Charterhouse Street in Islington.

SAVE president Marcus Binney added: “Smithfield doesn’t need yet more offices. Hendersons are already building a huge new office development on the next-door site.”

Victorian Society director Chris Costelloe said: “Smithfield Market has a character like no other part of central London. Preserving this is a matter of national importance.

“Our viable scheme for the site would boost the local economy and give these important buildings a long-term future.”

At July’s planning hearing Geoff Harris, Henderson’s director of property management, argued that it was a “regeneration project”.

He said: “We have been developing this scheme, through consultation with the City and English Heritage, for three years.  “There will be significant restoration of the parts of the building that people see.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Campaigners submit planning application for rival Smithfield scheme

Architect Burrell Foley Fischer goes head to head with McAslan & Partners

Illustration of Smithfield General Market reopened as a market hub

The Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage have submitted a full planning application for Smithfield Market in an unprecedented bid to pre-empt a planning inquiry.

Architect Burrell Foley Fischer has drawn up detailed plans for the covered market near Farringdon which was designed by Sir Horace Jones in the 19th century.

These have been submitted to the City of London Corporation by the two conservation bodies as part of a change of use application which would pave the way for a “rescue plan” designed by Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management (USM).

The application is the latest move in a campaign by the Victorian Society and Save against a scheme by John McAslan & Partners to insert six storeys of office and retail behind the Victorian facades.

This won planning in July but was called in by communities secretary Eric Pickles just two months later. The subsequent planning inquiry is due to open on February 11.

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: “This is exceptional. I’m not aware of the Victorian Society ever having made a planning application, and it’s quite unusual for a party that doesn’t own a site to put in a planning application.”

Burrell Foley Fischer’s Smithfield plans

The public inquiry would hinge on the viability of alternative plans that don’t involve demolition, he said, so it was necessary to demonstrate the viability of the USM scheme.

“This is one of the most important market complexes in the country and is an important part of the City of London yet the current plans would involve substantial demolition,” he added.

He described the application, which could be heard in parallel with the public inquiry, as “extremely realistic”.

“All we need is for the City of London to come to its senses and decide that rather than another office block something much more exciting could be done here. When Crossrail meets Thameslink, Farringdon is going to be the centre of London and it will need a heart. There will be massive demand for retail there.”

Clem Cecil, director of Save, said: “We are saying loud and clear that this heritage is important for London and the nation and can be protected and bring economic benefit.”

John McAslan, whose scheme was drawn up for developer Henderson Global Investors, declined to comment.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Victorian Society & SAVE submit planning application for Smithfield General Market and Annex

The alternative scheme put forward in the planning application submitted by the Victorian Society and SAVE Britain's Heritage for the historic Smithfield General Market involves no demolition.  It is based on a viable and fundable business plan from Urban Space Management, who have successfully brought Camden Market, Greenwich Market, Spitalfields Market and many other markets throughout the country back into vibrant use.

In February 2014 (11th-28th) there will be a  public  inquiry into the future of Smithfield General Market and its stunning Annex building. This will determine whether Henderson Global Investors will be able to demolish most of the site and build two large office blocks.

The Public Inquiry is being fought by the Victorian Society and SAVE Britain's Heritage against the GLA, the City of London and Henderson Global Investors. The Secretary of State called it in for Public Inquiry in September this year.

English Heritage, in a volte face, is supporting the Henderson scheme saying that it does not cause 'substantial harm' to the Smithfield conservation area, although EH opposed the demolition of the General Market in a previous public inquiry.

The Victorian Society/SAVE scheme, drawn up by John Burrell of Burrell, Foley, Fischer, will save the General Market and its unique interiors and handsome top-lit market halls for the nation and create a new bustling hub in the heart of London.

Smithfield General Market was built in the late 19th Century by City Surveyor Sir Horace Jones, architect of Billingsgate and Leadenhall markets and Tower Bridge.  Together with the Smithfield meat and poultry markets, the General Market makes up the grandest procession of market buildings in Europe. It is a public asset, owned by the City of London Corporation, which has let it lie empty for many years.

The Victorian Society’s Director Chris Costelloe said: “Smithfield Market has a character like no other part of central London.  Preserving this is a matter of national importance.  Our viable scheme for the site would boost the local economy and give these important buildings a long term future.  By contrast the Henderson scheme would cause substantial harm to the conservation area.  We are pleased to be standing side by side with SAVE Britain's Heritage in this campaign.”

SAVE Director Clem Cecil said  "We are delighted to be working with the Victorian Society on this planning application that is a crucial aspect of our case for the public inquiry. We are saying loud and clear that this heritage is important for London and the nation and can be protected and bring economic benefit."