Wednesday, 12 February 2014

London Preservationists Assail Henderson’s Smithfield Plan

Opponents of Henderson Global Investors Ltd. (HGL)’s proposed 160 million-pound ($265 million) renovation of part of Smithfield Market in the City of London say that the plan damages a historic treasure.

The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage are presenting arguments for the preservation of the Victorian structure at a public inquiry, the groups said in a statement. The Victorian Society also said it has submitted an application to English Heritage asking for the structures be listed for historic preservation.

Henderson won local-government approval in July to redevelop part of the market into 16,260 square meters (175,000 square feet) of offices and 5,570 square meters of shops. The U.K. government has the power to demand further review of large developments, even after they receive planning approval from local government. It decided to reconsider Henderson’s plans in September and a decision on the project will be made following a public hearing.

“This is an innovative and ingenious structure, based on the modular structural system,” Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society said in a statement. “Its interior is also a magnificent space that very few Londoners have been able to see for many years.”

Henderson is seeking to benefit from the construction of the Crossrail high-speed subway line connecting London’s east and west. Farringdon, where the market is based, will become one of Britain’s busiest train stations when the rail line opens, according to Crossrail.

Livestock History

Smithfield’s market is more than 140 years old and it’s been the site of livestock transactions for more than 800 years, according to its web site. Henderson’s project will sit beside the meat and poultry markets.

Cathedral Group Plc, a London-based developer, said on Feb. 10 it would submit evidence to the inquiry supporting protection of the market.

The Victorian society decided to apply to list the building as a historically protected site after concluding that previous listing applications were flawed, according to the statement.

The listing application “can only be described as yet another desperate and last-minute publicity stunt ahead of the public inquiry,” Geoff Harris, development director at Henderson, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Applications to protect the buildings “were made and rejected in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005,” and the groups have provided “no significant new evidence to warrant consideration or listing” Harris said.

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