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Market forces

ASTRAGAL

Look out for a Covent Gardenstyle controversy over Spitalfields Market in London's East End, despite the reintroduction of Norman Foster in place of EPR as architect of a new office complex which will sweep away half the market. So far, this story has attracted mostly local publicity, but this is set to change as councillors from the Greater London Authority take in the significance of the proposals. EPR's planning permission for an office building on the site was quashed in the courts last year, though an earlier permission (for Foster's futures exchange headquarters) had been given.The futures people ended up going to Frankfurt.

Massive local opposition to the spec scheme from developer Hammerson is partly because demolishing half the market (no masterpiece) lays the way open to further demolition, with no proper consideration of the nature of the new city quarter which will be created. Opponents think the City of London would never allow the scheme in its own area, but as it owns the market it is happy to try to impose it on neighbouring Tower Hamlets. That borough appears to have been cowed into submission. There is at least one radical proposal to be considered:

why not ask Hammerson and the City (they are joint development partners) to prepare a mixed-use proposal for the whole market area? Meanwhile, GLA insiders are beginning to think that if push comes to shove, mayor Livingstone may feel that the local community deserves more than being told it is lucky to be the recipient of all these offices, even if they are designed by Norman.

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