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Victorian Society slams English Heritage's Smithfield stance

The Victorian Society has slammed English Heritage’s decision to back McAslan’s Smithfield Market development plans as ‘disappointing’ and ‘worrying’

The outburst follows last week’s criticism from SAVE Britain’s Heritage who accused English Heritage of having ‘failed in its duty’ by backing the plan which would see parts of the historic market pulled down and replaced with a mixed use office and retail building.

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: ‘Replacing the market halls with an office block would rip the heart out of the area. It is time the Corporation [of London] stopped trying to give one of its most colourful assets the William Wallace treatment’, a reference to the Scottish freedom fighter who was hanged, drawn and quartered at the site in 1305.

The Victorian Society points to the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which states that deliberate neglect or damage to a heritage building should not be taken into account in decisions on the building’s redevelopment (paragraph 130).

Costelloe said: ‘We are disappointed the English Heritage has given their backing to these proposals. The main reason they gave for supporting the application was the poor condition of the buildings, but they ignore the fact that the buildings have been in the control of the Corporation of London since their construction.’

English Heritage hit back and said in a statement: ‘In some circumstances the disrepair of a heritage building should be ignored, but those are limited to situations where it is plain that the neglect or damage was a deliberate act done in the hope of obtaining [planning] permission. Simply because someone has not maintained a building does not mean, of course, that they have done so in order to get a particular permission.’

‘We do not consider that the situation at Smithfield falls into the circumstances described in paragraph 130 of the NPPF.’

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