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Smithfield Inquiry: last-ditch bid to list market submitted

The Victorian Society has made an eleventh-hour attempt to list Smithfield Market, just hours before a public inquiry begins into John McAslan + Partner’s contentious redevelopment plans for the site

In its submission to English Heritage, the organisation claims that four previous listing assessments of the General Market and Fish Market in central London ‘had serious flaws’.

The Society and fellow conservation campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage are vigorously objecting to McAslans’ ‘destructive’ £160million proposals for the market and have also lodged the listing application with the planning inspector. The inquiry, which starts today (11 February), is expected to last three weeks.

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: ‘The engineering importance of the market hall of the General Market, due to be demolished under current plans, has not been adequately addressed.  This is an innovative and ingenious structure, based on the modular structural system pioneered by the Crystal Palace.  

‘We hope that English Heritage will now take this opportunity to give the General Market and Fish Market the protection that they deserve.’

However the move has been blasted by Henderson Global Investors, the developers behind McAslan’s proposed office-led overhaul of the buildings.

Henderson director Geoff Harris said: ‘This can only be described as yet another desperate and last minute publicity stunt ahead of the public inquiry.  Applications to list the buildings were made and rejected in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. 

This is yet another desperate and last minute publicity stunt

‘As stated by SAVE themselves in their listing applications dated February 2014, “no notable new information has since emerged about the buildings”.  There is therefore no significant new evidence to warrant consideration or listing.’

Among the witnesses who will speak out against McAslan’s plans are Jenny Freeman, Alec Forshaw , Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management, Ian Lerner and architect John Burrell.

Yesterday developer Cathedral Group also announced it would be submitting evidence in support of the case for retention of the original buildings.

The conservation groups claim the Henderson proposals would ‘leave no more than three of the perimeter buildings wrapped around an entirely new interior largely filled with new office accommodation’, branding it the ‘worst mutilation of a Victorian building for 30 years’.

Yet the scheme to create 5,700m² of shops and 21,220m² of office space has been supported by the City of London, English Heritage, the GLA and CABE.


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