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Smithfield listing bid rejected

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English Heritage has rejected a last ditch bid by the Victorian Society’s to list Smithfield Market

In a letter dated just six days after the application was made, the heritage organisation said the Society had not come up with any ‘substantive new information’ to justify why the central London building should be given statutory protection.

The Society made the eleventh-hour attempt just hours before the public inquiry began into John McAslan + Partner’s contentious redevelopment plans for the site earlier this month (see below).

The conservation group, which claimed that four previous listing assessments ‘had serious flaws’ is campaigning alongside SAVE Britain’s Heritage against McAslans’ ‘destructive’ £160 million proposals for the General Market and Fish Market.

However English Heritage was quick to dismiss the latest application, stating that nothing new had emerged since the last listing attempt nine years ago.

A spokesperson for English Heritage said: ‘[We have] has received various requests to list the [General Market], in 1990, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. They each were given very careful consideration, however the criteria for listing were not met and the Secretary of State agreed with our recommendations not to list.

‘In the case of the General Market, for example, the building was badly damaged by a V-2 rocket during the Second World War and the entire north-west corner and dome had to be rebuilt, significantly compromising its eligibility for listing.  

‘The latest applications, which have come from the Victorian Society, include no substantive new information and therefore we will not be re-assessing these buildings.’

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, responded: ‘The Victorian Society has made serious criticisms of English Heritage’s previous listing assessments of the buildings. In particular we think that English Heritage has greatly underestimated the engineering significance of the hall of the General Market. Our views have been endorsed by a number of well-respected engineers and engineering historians. It is disappointing that English Heritage has decided not to engage with these criticisms.  If confidence in the listing system is to be maintained it is vital that decisions are taken based on the listing criteria and not on other factors.’

Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Clem Cecil commented: ‘Assessments from English Heritage of this site over the years would indicate that it is of a high enough quality to be listed therefore we are disappointed by this response. The interior consists of a fine set of market halls and is home to one of the best groups of highly decorated Phoenix columns in the country, possibly the world.’

The inquiry continues.

The Letter from English Heritage:

Mr Christopher Costelloe
The Victorian Society
1 Priory Gardens
W4 1TT

17 February 2014

Dear Mr Costelloe,

Smithfield General Market building, Farringdon Road, Charterhouse Street, West Poultry Avenue and, West Smithfield, London EC1

Thank you for your application requesting that the above building should be added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. As you know this building has been considered for listing before, in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005. On each occasion, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport decided not to add the building to the List. We have carefully considered the points made in The Victorian Society’s recent application. As the Society acknowledges, the application does not contain any substantive new information. We have decided that there is nothing to advise the Secretary of State on and, therefore, we will not take the application any further.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, quoting our reference 1419154. Further information can also be found on our website at www.english-heritage.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Seely

Designation Co-ordinator - South
Designation Team
English Heritage
1 Waterhouse Square
138-142 Holborn
London EC1N 2ST

Previous story (AJ 11.02.14)

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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