Communities secretary accuses City Corporation of ‘deliberate neglect’ over buildings’ condition
The Communities Secretary has rejected John McAslan & Partners’ £160 million proposal to fill Smithfield Market in London with shops and offices and accused the buildings’ owners of not looking after them properly.
Eric Pickles made the shock announcement today following a public inquiry into the scheme by developer Henderson Global Investors.
In a strongly worded statement, he singled out the City of London Corporation, who own the buildings, for criticism.
“The deteriorated state of the buildings is, at least in part, the result of the history of deliberate neglect and that, in assessing the planning balance, less weight should therefore be given to the current condition of the buildings and the consequent benefit of their repair,” he said.
The decision was hailed as a major victory by Save and the Victorian Society who fought the proposal, arguing that it would do too much damage to the historic fabric of Horace Jones’ market buildings in Farringdon.
Together with Cathedral Group and market entrepreneur Eric Reynolds they argued there was a viable alternative which could bring the crumbling buildings back into use as a market ready to take advantage of the arrival of Crossrail.
It is one of the highest-profile schemes rejected by Pickles who waved through Squire & Partners’ Shell Centre plans and David Chipperfield’s Elizabeth House, drawing criticism from conservationists.
Pickles said the buildings involved in the Smithfield scheme, while not listed, were “heritage assets which contributed strongly to the distinctive character of the Smithfield Conservation Area”.
This story originally appeared on Building Design here.