Outcry over office plan for Smithfield market

Heritage campaigners have called for a public inquiry after plans to build a seven-storey office block next door to one of London's most famous landmarks were given the go-ahead.

The "general market", which was built in 1883 and designed by Sir Horace Jones, sits on the west wing of Smithfield meat market.

Campaigning groups had tried to gain listed status for the building, arguing that it forms part of Britain's most impressive group of market buildings. But following their failure to achieve this, the City of London Corporation, who own the market's lease, has agreed to grant planning consent to the developers, Thornfield Properties plc. If the plans are ratified by the Government, demolition of the historic site could begin after three weeks.

The project will see the building knocked down and replaced by 350,000 sq ft of office space, with a retail outlet on the ground floor.

English Heritage said it "strongly objected" to proposals to grant planning permission, and said it agreed with the sentiments of a letter written by Tessa Jowell last year to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, suggesting a public enquiry into the future of the Smithfield market building.

A statement from English Heritage said: "We have called on the Secretary of State [Ruth Kelly] to call in the case, and await her response. Like Oxo Tower, Tate Modern or Borough market, this building is one of many well-loved and useful buildings which are not listed, but which are still a very important part of London's architectural and historic character.

"English Heritage often supports new development schemes and is disappointed that the proposed new building is so poorly suited to the area. This design is not top quality and instead of encouraging small business and diversity, it destroys the bustle and creativity of the area with an enormous single-use office block."

Save Britain's Heritage said it would be grave if a building of such historical significance was destroyed. Adam Wilkinson, the campaign group's secretary, said he was urging the public to write to the government to ask for a public enquiry.

"It is the most fantastic complex of historic market buildings in the country," he said. "The development would completely destroy it and rebuild seven storeys rather than two storeys. It would not give life to the area and it would just join the great, big, dull wall of office buildings on Farringdon Road. It is completely at odds with the other market buildings in terms of its size."

Matthew Saunders, from the Ancient Monument's Society, said the although the present set of buildings in Smithfield were part of a 19th-century rebuilding project, the site itself was "one of the oldest markets in the country, going for centuries from the beginning of the Middle Ages".

At present, there are rail tunnels beneath the buildings which are in need of repair. But Mr Saunders said there were other ways in which they could be accessed without demolishing the entire building.

"When a Tube tunnel needs repair, we do not have to demolish a whole building," he said. "This is a terribly crude way of mending the Tube and we would end up demolishing half of London. I am sure there is scope for a partial redevelopment, in which part of the building such as the front is left intact, but more radically redeveloped inside."

But Michael Capocci, the managing director of Thornfield Properties, said he hoped to move forward with the development at the earliest opportunity.

He said: "It has taken us over five years to get to this point and we have been painstaking in ensuring that all the planning and design requirements have been met. We have also consulted widely on our proposals.

"The resulting design enhances the Smithfield Conservation Area and makes a lasting contribution to the regeneration of the area."

A spokesman added that the modern office block would be designed to blend with Smithfield and that it would create easier access to the meat market.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition