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'Public supports McAslan's Smithfield plans', claim backers

The developers behind John McAslan’s controversial Smithfield Market plans claim an opinion poll shows the public want the redevelopment to go ahead

Released just 24 hours before the start of the public inquiry into the proposed overhaul of the Victorian market, the YouGov poll results revealed that 54 per cent of Londoners wanted the contentious scheme ‘to go ahead as soon as possible’ (17% against).

The online survey of 1,103 adults living in the capital, carried out for developers Henderson Global Investors, also found that 56 per cent believed the scheme would ‘improve the area’, while 9 per cent said it would change the area for the worse.

The £160million proposal, which would see the General Market and Annex converted into 5,700m² of shops and 21,220m² of office space, was ‘called-in’ last September and are being vociferously opposed by SAVE and the Victorian Society.

The campaign groups believe the scheme is ‘needlessly destructive’.

Speaking about the poll, Geoff Harris, director of Property Development at Henderson, said: ‘These results show that Londoners support our scheme, which will save and bring back to life Victorian market buildings that have lain empty for decades.

‘The Victorians were good at change, yet it is striking that there is a tendency for some to represent change as threatening and unacceptable. By a clear margin most Londoners do not share this view and want to see us improve and regenerate the area as quickly as possible.

He concluded: ‘There is no realistic alternative to Smithfield Quarter and if our scheme does not get approved then these disused historic buildings will continue to decay, leaving the site blighted by further uncertainty.’

The much-anticipated, three-week inquiry opens tomorrow (11 February) at the City of London Guildhall, with John McAslan expected to be the first to give evidence.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Geoff Harris may like quoting the YouGov Survey but unless we are told the questions asked and specifically to whom they were asked the pol is meaningless. On two occasions I asked Frank Harris to answer these questions. On both occasions he refused. Instead he told me to get the answers from YouGov. I approached YouGov twice but never received a reply. I think it is irresponsible for a Director of Hendersons to announce the results a poll without apparently knowing the basis of it.

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