Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Campaigners submit planning application for rival Smithfield scheme

Architect Burrell Foley Fischer goes head to head with McAslan & Partners

Illustration of Smithfield General Market reopened as a market hub

The Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage have submitted a full planning application for Smithfield Market in an unprecedented bid to pre-empt a planning inquiry.

Architect Burrell Foley Fischer has drawn up detailed plans for the covered market near Farringdon which was designed by Sir Horace Jones in the 19th century.

These have been submitted to the City of London Corporation by the two conservation bodies as part of a change of use application which would pave the way for a “rescue plan” designed by Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management (USM).

The application is the latest move in a campaign by the Victorian Society and Save against a scheme by John McAslan & Partners to insert six storeys of office and retail behind the Victorian facades.

This won planning in July but was called in by communities secretary Eric Pickles just two months later. The subsequent planning inquiry is due to open on February 11.

Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: “This is exceptional. I’m not aware of the Victorian Society ever having made a planning application, and it’s quite unusual for a party that doesn’t own a site to put in a planning application.”

Burrell Foley Fischer’s Smithfield plans

The public inquiry would hinge on the viability of alternative plans that don’t involve demolition, he said, so it was necessary to demonstrate the viability of the USM scheme.

“This is one of the most important market complexes in the country and is an important part of the City of London yet the current plans would involve substantial demolition,” he added.

He described the application, which could be heard in parallel with the public inquiry, as “extremely realistic”.

“All we need is for the City of London to come to its senses and decide that rather than another office block something much more exciting could be done here. When Crossrail meets Thameslink, Farringdon is going to be the centre of London and it will need a heart. There will be massive demand for retail there.”

Clem Cecil, director of Save, said: “We are saying loud and clear that this heritage is important for London and the nation and can be protected and bring economic benefit.”

John McAslan, whose scheme was drawn up for developer Henderson Global Investors, declined to comment.

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