Tomorrow Henderson Global Investors will unveil their new plans for Smithfield General Market, part of what SAVE President Marcus Binney describes as ‘the finest parade of market buildings in Europe’.
The latest plans for the redevelopment of the Smithfield General Market built by Horace Jones in 1879-1883, architect of Billingsgate Market and Tower Bridge yet again propose large-scale demolition, with just a nod towards conservation.
SAVE has repeatedly shown with campaigns that have successfully championed Covent Garden and Billingsgate Market, that London’s great market buildings are vital to the city.
The rendered image of the remodelled interior by McAslan is beguiling but plays fast and loose with the building’s historic glass roofed market halls, which, if restored and re-glazed, would be as handsome as those in the main meat market or old Billingsgate Market, or the acclaimed former vegetable markets in Covent Garden. Instead they are to be removed in their entirety leaving only a skin of perimeter buildings one room deep.
On the attached flier, Henderson Investors claim their project “is still at a very early stage”.
Clem Cecil, Director of SAVE says, “our concern is that these proposals will be the basis of a planning application in the very near future. The scheme being exhibited is not acceptable and we call on all those who love and have fought for Smithfield Market to visit this briefest of public exhibitions and if they share our concerns to express them strongly."
"We hope that English Heritage, a key witness in the Public Inquiry of 2008, will push for maximum conservation and the retention of the roofs, so important to the entire market ensemble and the Smithfield Conservation Area.”
SAVE is working on an alternative, truly conservation-led scheme for the site for presentation in November.
SAVE will be going to the Public Exhibition at 17.00 – Please join us there to indicate the strength of objection to the Henderson/McAslan scheme.
SAVE will register the following objections at the Public Exhibition:
1) The loss incurred in the new scheme of the original roofs is not acceptable: it is to the detriment of the building, the Smithfield Market ensemble, and the Smithfield Conservation Area. It is the loss of the most characteristic feature of the market building.
2) The modern inserts, rising up to over 20m detract from the beauty of the General Market and Smithfield Market as a whole.
3) The images illustrating the new scheme play fast and loose with the architectural elements in the buildings- this is a lazy, cynical nod towards conservation that does not respect the historic buildings.
4) The new scheme does not respect the wishes laid out in the Inspector’s Report following the Public Inquiry 2007-2008 that came down in favour of maximum conservation, including the roofs.
5) Henderson has not made the case sufficiently for the financial need for new-build on the site.
6) We challenge the need for new offices: Hendersons are building a nine-storey office block opposite the General Market. Farringdon Road is already awash with concrete and glass office buildings - we need to preserve the area’s remaining historic buildings.
Background to the case:
SAVE Britain's Heritage initiated a Public Inquiry against the previous owners, Thornfield, who planned to demolish the building in 2007. The application for demolition was for conservation area consent, but the rejection covered both the redbrick buildings surrounding each block, and the iron and glass and wooden roofs.
The General Market was damaged by a bomb during the war, losing a corner and its tent-like dome. For this reason it was not listed, rendering the ensemble vulnerable.
The opportunity to create a fantastic public space at Smithfield has been overlooked by the City Corporation that appears happy to see the market sold off piecemeal.
English Heritage created this rendering of how the General Market could look as part of the 2008 Public Inquiry:
Please join us tomorrow, 19 October, at the Goldsmiths Centre, at Hendersons Public Exhibition Friday Oct 19th 3pm-8.30pm
Goldsmiths Centre, 42 Britton Street, EC1M 5AD
Please click the PDF press release to see a map showing the Goldsmiths Centre.