Thursday, 8 November 2007

A media complex in Smithfield Market

This is the secret English Heritage plan for a media complex in Smithfield Market. It was drawn up by the architect that they commisioned to look at the area, Terry Farrell.

On the day that the public inquiry into proposals to regenerate the western edge of Smithfield (the disused and unlisted General Market Building) the Smithfield butchers have held a demonstration against English Heritage, the public body opposing the development. The butchers say that they have seen secret plans drawn up by the leading architect, Terry Farrell, to replace a functioning and thriving meat market with a media complex. Terry Farrell was commissioned by English Heritage to look at the meat market and the surrounding area.

Greg Lawrence, Chairman, Smithfield Market Tenants Association, said:

"It is completely perplexing that English Heritage is opposing what is an excellent development that will uplift the area and protect the meat market when they have failed to list the General Market Building on five occasions. The General Market Building, not part of today's thriving meat market, is a derelict eyesore in our opinion and Thornfield's proposals will make a real contribution to Smithfield.

"It is also perplexing that having opposed the regeneration of a run down area, English Heritage then get their architect to have a look at a future for the market that doesn't have the meat traders at its heart. They didn't even have the courtesy to consult us at any point. Let me be clear, we are opposed to any proposal that moves the meat market away from its historical home, Smithfield. That is why we support Thornfield Properties regeneration of the area and strongly oppose English Heritage's plans to see a media complex replace the meat market."

Michael Capocci, Chief Executive, Thornfield Properties plc, said:

"It is the easiest thing in the world to argue that these disused buildings should be given a lick of paint and reopened but it is just not possible. What you can't see on the surface is that the Thameslink rail tunnels form part of the building and these tunnels are in need of repair. It is the liability of the building owner to undertake these mulit-million pound repairs and it can't realistically be done technically or financially without demolishing the building."

"So any argument that just ignores the tunnels and pretends that they don't exist is just not credible. Moreover, any suggestion that a patch-up job can be undertaken is not credible either. This building actually forms a key part of London's transport infrastructure, Thameslink, and that is why Network Rail and Crossrail support our proposal. Our proposals make an exceptional contribution to Smithfield architecturally and it terms of regeneration and we have seen no credible alternatives."

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